Explosives Engineering Degree Program Information

Oct 11, 2019

Students who are interested in explosives engineering can enroll in a graduate certificate or a Master of Science (MS) in the field. Learn more about these programs to decide which best meets your needs.

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Essential Information

Explosives engineers set the explosives that break away large rock structures to provide access to construction sites and raw materials. Graduate certificate and master's degree programs teach students to design and utilize explosives systems. Students also gain knowledge of the safety precautions needed to handle explosives safely. Master's programs may call for a thesis.

These programs are primarily designed for students with an undergraduate background in engineering or a related field. Certificate programs consist of five or fewer courses, while master's programs often call for about 30 credit hours, which can take 1-2 years to complete.

Explosives Engineering Certificate

Graduate certificate programs in explosives engineering provide students with a practical and theoretical understanding of explosives and blasting technology. Students learn to design explosives and explosives systems that can break away both natural and man-made structures. They learn to plan, build and executive explosive systems for uses in demolition, construction and even research.

Graduate certificate programs in explosives engineering are open to students who already hold a bachelor's or master's degree, or even a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), in engineering or a related field. Some schools only admit students who also have some professional work experience in engineering, construction or demolition.

Courses included in a graduate certificate program in explosives engineering cover principles of the science, as well as practical and technical skills related to the profession. Some examples of courses include:

  • Principles of explosives engineering
  • Demolitions technology
  • Blasting design
  • Underground construction technology
  • Instrumentation for explosives testing
  • High explosives theory

Master of Science in Explosives Engineering

Master's degree programs in explosives engineering typically are offered within the mining, construction or engineering departments of 4-year universities. They allow students to gain a thorough understanding of the theoretical and practical components of explosives engineering. Students learn to safely handle explosives, design explosive systems to meet particular demolition parameters and operate instruments and materials used in the field. They may also be required to complete a thesis paper or project in explosives engineering before graduation.

Master's degree programs in explosives engineering include background courses related to advanced engineering and mathematics. Core courses often include the following:

  • High explosives theory
  • Controls for blasting
  • Principles of explosives engineering
  • Pyrotechnics operations
  • Blasting design
  • Buildings and structure demolition

Popular Career Options

Explosives engineers can use their specialized skills in a variety of industries. They might hold specific titles like:

  • Construction explosives engineer
  • Special effects and pyrotechnics engineer
  • Demolition explosives engineer
  • Research and exploration blaster

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), explosives workers, ordnance handling experts and blasters held roughly 5,900 positions in the country in 2018 (www.bls.gov). The change in employment for these workers was expected to be 6% in the decade spanning 2018-2028.

The median annual salary for explosives workers, ordnance handling experts and blasters was $49,860 in May 2018, based on BLS figures. Top employers in the field included the federal government, mining support companies, metal ore mining companies and specialty trade contractors. Texas and Oklahoma were the states employing the greatest number of workers in the trade.

Certification and Continuing Education Options

Explosives engineers are not required to gain certification to find employment in their field. They can find continuing education opportunities, training seminars and additional resources through industry organizations, such as the International Society of Explosives Engineers (ISEE). ISEE also has individual chapters across the country that provide training opportunities and conferences.

By earning a graduate certificate or master's degree in explosives engineering, students gain the scientific expertise needed to develop and implement explosive systems for industries like mining and construction.

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