Career Definition for a Mining Machine Operator
Mining machine operators manipulate heavy specialized machinery in a process called continuous mining. They work underground where they drill through deposits of coal, ore or rock, then load it onto carts that deliver it to the surface. They work with a team of mining machine operators, mining technicians and other mining specialists.
|Education||Vocational training and associate degrees available|
|Job Skills||Knowledge of drilling techniques, team player, good judgment, good health|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$54,620 for continuous mining machine operators; $48,850 for all other mining machine operators|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||-4% for continuous mining machine operators; 0% for all other mining machine operators|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Mining machine operators require specialized training to operate and handle increasingly complex equipment which is used in the extraction process. Most employers prefer to hire mining machine operators who have completed at least two years of vocational training, though some may ask for an associate degree in mining technologies. State-enforced safety precautions and procedures require new employees to receive at least 40 hours of safety training on the job, and employers often require additional safety training for new hires.
Mining machine operators spend hours in the same position laying or sitting while operating heavy machinery using buttons and levers. They require specialized knowledge in mining machine operations and drilling techniques. Because they work together with a team of mining specialists operating heavy machinery hundreds of feet underground, they must be great team players, possess good judgment and general good health.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the occupational outlook for employment in the mining industry from 2016-2026 predicted a 4% drop in jobs for continuous mining machine operators and no change in employment for all other mining machine operators. The annual median salary for mining machine operators in 2017 was $48,850, and for continuous mining machine operators, the median was $54,620.
Alternate Career Options
You can also look into these other career options for heavy machine operation:
Material Moving Machine Operator
Normally having a high school education, some of these operators are also required to have related work experience, in addition to on-the-job training. These professionals transport objects with machinery around mines or building sites. A 6% growth in available positions was projected by the BLS from 2016-2026, and the annual median wage was $34,830 in 2017.
Construction Equipment Operator
Although experience may be learned on the job by high school graduates, many learn the necessary skills to drive and control heavy machines for constructing roads and buildings through apprenticeships or trade school programs. The BLS predicted faster than average employment growth of 12% from 2016-2026 and reported an annual median salary of $46,080 in 2017.