Extracting mineral resources from the environment is the primary job of the mining industry. This industry has been around for many years, taking minerals from the ground for man to use to develop new products, technologies and tools. Mining jobs can be found all over the world, and these workers play a vital role in providing the raw materials society uses every day.
Job duties in the mining industry usually depend on the particular segment: oil and gas, metal ores, nonmetallic mineral mining (quarrying) and mining support. For example, coal miners can work in deep coal mines or on surface mining areas, where they are responsible for extracting coal, bringing it to the surface and transporting it to the buyers. Oil and petroleum workers may work on ocean oil rigs or land-based oil wells. They can be responsible for repairing and maintaining equipment, supervising drilling activities and maintaining or installing oil pipeline facilities. Miners who work in quarries or mineral mining facilities can use high explosives to expose ores or product, and then use heavy machinery to take the material to a refining facility. Mining support workers tend to focus on one particular area of the industry, such as those who specialize in extinguishing oil well fires.
Most job openings in the mining industry don't require formal education or training. Most of the skills a miner learns are acquired through on-the-job experience. Some mine workers may need vocational training, especially if they specialize in a trade skill. Most extraction workers (those who get the products out of the ground) must be 18 years or older and in good physical condition to get a job in the industry.
Work environments for miners can vary greatly depending on their position and industry. Miners in all fields often face difficult, strenuous work environments. Lifting heavy objects, maneuvering through uncomfortable spaces and situations and enduring extreme temperatures can be common. Mine operations often go all day, and workers typically work in shifts. Most workers in the industry work 40 hours or more a week, with few part-time employees.
Miners often rely on their physical attributes to perform their jobs, and being physically fit is necessary. Being able to work long shifts while on their feet, often performing labor that requires endurance and strength is required. Having work-related skills and experience can allow a miner better opportunities as a manager or supervisor, and the ability to lead and motivate others is needed for these positions.
Salary and Jobs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there were about 717,000 mining jobs in the United States in 2008, with most of these jobs heavily concentrated in specific areas of the country where resources are located. While the kinds of jobs required by the industry vary widely and, thus, so do salaries, the average income for a mining worker in 2008 was about $23 per hour. Jobs in this area are expected to decrease between 2008 and 2018, due primarily to increased production capacity brought about by new technology and extraction techniques.