Below the earth’s surface are various minerals and other natural resources used to improve the value of life for people around the world. As technology continues to advance, demand for these natural resources continues to increase. Two career paths directly related to the extraction of natural resources include geology and petroleum engineering. If you are interested in either of these fields, understanding the job duties and qualifications needed can help you prepare to obtain employment.
A career as a mining engineer falls under the field of geology engineering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mining engineers specialize in extracting one particular type of metal or mineral, such as gold, silver, copper or coal. In some cases, mining engineers work with geologists to discover new ore deposits and develop new equipment to use in the mining process. Mining engineers typically work for architectural and engineering firms and mining companies.
The primary objective of a geological engineer is to design mines that are safe and lead to the efficient removal of minerals that are below the earth’s surface. Geological engineers use their understanding of geology to discover and evaluate sites thought to contain mineral deposits and water resources. After a site is evaluated, geological engineers determine how much of a water supply can be used sustainably and how to extract minerals and metals in a way that does not harm the environment.
Petroleum engineers design equipment and develop methods to extract oil that is deposited below the earth’s surface. In addition to establishing methods that lead to the safe extraction of oil and gas, petroleum engineers must also develop cost-effective methods that are profitable to oil and gas companies. According to the BLS, the duties of a petroleum engineer include using computers to control drilling, analyzing exploration data and observing how oil reservoirs behave during and after the extraction process. Petroleum engineers spend much of their time in the field, which means they often travel to drilling sites and remain there for long periods of time.
What it Takes and Pays
Working as a geological or mining engineer requires obtaining a bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering school and receiving state licensure. Licensing requirements vary per state but typically require that you pass two examinations. Entry-level petroleum engineering job positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Some companies prefer you major in petroleum engineering. The BLS reports that the 2012 average annual salary for mining and geological engineers was $91,250, and the 2012 average annual salary for petroleum engineers was $147,470.