Should I Become an Explosives Engineer?
Explosives engineers, also called blasters, are responsible for explosives needed in mining, construction and other operations. Explosives are used to loosen and remove earth or rock in preparation for building or road construction. They also can be deployed to gain access to minerals, fuels or metals in the ground.The following table outlines the career requirements for explosives engineers:
|Degree Level||High school diploma or its equivalent, though postsecondary education is typically helpful|
|Degree Fields||Explosives engineering or mining engineering|
|Licensure||Requirements vary by employer and region; federal and state licenses may be mandatory for explosives workers|
|Experience||2+ years of experience in blasting/explosives operations|
|Key Skills||Strong oral and written communication, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, knowledge of legal regulations and safety procedures,strong mathematical skills, certain level of physical fitness, including good eyesight and ability to stand or run, ability to handle and detonate explosives, familiar with the operation of protective equipment.|
|Salary (2015)||$55,305 per year (Median salary for blasters or explosive engineers)|
Sources: O*Net Online, Colorado School of Mines, Payscale.com, University of Nevada-Reno, Office of Surface Mining
Step 1: Complete an Educational Program
Most positions do not require a college degree, but students may choose to pursue certificate or degree programs in explosives engineering. Programs in a wider field such as mining engineering can also involve study of explosives. Courses may include principles of explosives engineering, drilling and blasting, rock fragmentation and commercial pyrotechnics operations. In lieu of a full college program, some organizations also offer training seminars and courses. Individual courses may last a few days and cover subjects such as surface blasting and explosives safety.
- Choose a career path. Requirements for explosives engineers vary by field and employer. The majority of blasters are employed in the mining industry and work with coal or metal ore mines. Other industries that employ explosives engineers include fabricated metal product manufacturing, specialty trade contracting and chemical product manufacturing.
Step 2: Earn a State License
Certification requirements vary by region and field. Work experience under a certified blaster may be a requirement for certification in order to become an explosives engineer. Applicants often need on-the-job training and up to 2 years of involvement in blasting operations before they are eligible for certification.
Explosives engineers in the mining industry need certification from the federal Office of Surface Mining. If the engineer is responsible for transporting explosives, a permit is required from the Department of Transportation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives requires workers or their employers to have permits or licenses for all handling of explosives. States, counties and cities may have their own regulations for explosives engineers. Maintaining certification may involve completing a certain number of continuing education programs and training seminars within each renewal period.
Step 3: Join a Professional Organization
Aspiring explosive engineers who seek to advance their careers may consider joining a professional organization, such as the International Society of Explosive Engineers (ISEE), which offers certifications with the intent of establishing a training standard for the industry. Also, ISEE provides its members with continuing education programs, conferences, networking opportunities and other resources for career growth and advancement.