Graham, Mining Engineer
How did you become a mining engineer?
Before becoming a mining engineer, Graham had worked in the mining industry as a labourer and operator. Wanting to work his way up in the industry (and also escape further shift work), he studied engineering at university as a mature age student.
What does a mining engineer do?
While Graham believes that it was a definite advantage having worked in the industry before deciding to become a mining engineer, he still found that the job was not quite as he'd expected: "I suppose I had a pretty narrow view of what the job entailed. As an operator, I was focusing more on individual tasks than on whole processes, and I didn't realise quite how many different aspects of the mining operation there are," says Graham.
Graham has been working as a mining engineer for around four years now, and describes his job as varied and rewarding: "The work can involve anything from hands on supervision, to designing a mine layout, through to measuring and reporting information."
What are some of the pros and cons of the job?
"Because there's a lot of location work, you have the opportunity to work in all sorts of interesting places," adds Graham, who has mining engineering friends as far afield as Malaysia, New Zealand, and even Ireland.
Of course, you can also work in other parts of Australia, and this is quite common given that there are perhaps fewer opportunities in Victoria than in Western Australia, for example.
"The location work can be a double-edged sword," says Graham. "At times you might find yourself in the middle of nowhere, away from home for days or weeks at a time."
However Graham reassures that the living conditions are generally pretty good when you work away from home. Although you may be sharing a bathroom and a laundry, when they talk about the 'camp' situation, they're not referring to tents.
Also, there are a lot of mining engineers who never have to leave their home town or city, so to an extent, how much you travel is up to you.
What sort of skills and qualities do you need?
To become a mining engineer, Graham says that you will need to display attention to detail, good people skills (as you will be required to supervise and manage others), as well as dedication in order to get through the course.
"There are a lot of contact hours in the course - it can get quite stressful at times."
Once qualified, there are a number of pathways open to you: "You can specialise in one of a number of areas, for example, economic evaluation, drill and blast, ventilation, or design work. You could also specialise in a particular type of mining, such as underground or open pit mining, gold or coal mining the options are immeasurable really," says Graham.
"If you want a reasonably well paid career that provides you with lots of flexibility and the opportunity to travel, mining engineering can be great."
Finally, Graham recommends, "And if you are interested in mining engineering, don't sleep through geology classes like I did!"
Find out more about a career in mining engineering
Visit the MyFuture website to find more about duties and tasks, work conditions, earnings and required qualifications for a career in mining engineering.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).