Career Development in the Oil and Coal Drilling Industries

March 9, 2015 by Monica Coenen
Your Future in Drilling: Career Development Tracks in the Mining Industries

 

If you’re considering a career in the coal mining, oil, or gas industries, you might not have a clear picture of how your career will progress. Your education, goals, and salary desires can all affect what path you might take in your mining industries career. Let’s drill down into what arcs your career path might make.

Possible career paths for workers in the oil and coal drilling industries.

 

First of all, it’s important to note that all entry level positions in the mining industries are paid hourly, meaning that the estimated salaries in this infographic are conservative, given that many in the industry work more than a 40-hour week. Jesse Whittaker, a Sales Rep at Rig Source who grew up in West Virginia and has been working in coal mining since the age of 16, knows the reason behind this: unpredictability.

“There is no standard day on a drill rig,” says Jesse. “You could work 8 hours in a day and everything would be fine, or you could have an issue in the hole and be there for 18 hours.”

Most high school graduates will begin as a miner or laborer, earning from $37,000-45,000/year for operating heavy mining machinery, drill blasting holes, transporting coal, and laying out and building underground mines, according to Indeed. Most miners fall between the ages of 20-45, according to WiseGeek; with that in mind, working in the drilling industry may be ideal for a young person without a family at home, since the job requires so much time away from the family.

Miners or laborers can advance to an equipment operator miner, whose job duties include safely and efficiently operating mining equipment. The top rung of this career path is foreman, where one can earn $80,000-89,000/year for supervising miners, meeting quotas, and maintaining an efficient work environment.

College graduates searching for a job in coal mining can explore careers as geologists or mechanical engineers, depending on their interests. A geologist researches formation dissolution and content of rock layers, and he may also study variation in rock formation and densities. A mechanical engineer, meanwhile, earns $73,000-89,000/year for designing machines and mechanical installations, evaluating machinery, and setting up work control systems.

From there, an employee can advance to the role of mine manager, which comes with a significant salary increase and additional responsibilities of staffing management, performance evaluation, and promotion of a safe work environment. While a college degree isn’t necessary for a mine manager, only 17% have a high school diploma as their highest degree (for comparison’s sake, 43% hold a Bachelor’s Degree and 27% hold a Master’s Degree).

Finally, a college graduate’s career in coal mining might culminate as an executive operations manager or mine engineer, both high-level roles earning around $100,000/year. A mine engineer is responsible for planning and designing mines for maximum structural stability, while the executive operations manager leads and managers operation teams.

A crucial requisite to working in the oil and gas industries is being physically strong. In these career fields, you’re required to 100-150 pounds of equipment regularly. The physical nature of jobs on drilling rigs isn’t for everyone.

A high school graduate will begin in the oil and gas drilling industries as a hand on an oil drilling rig, conducting inspection on oil drilling equipment, assisting the driller during operations, and ensuring the accuracy of fuel inventories for around $40,000/year. From there, he will advance to a driller, ensuring compliance with all regulating bodies and supervising drilling activities such as core drilling or exploration drilling. Eventually, he may become a tool pusher, supervising daily drilling rig operations

A college graduate, on the other hand, may enter the oil and gas industries as a petroleum geologist, gaining valuable experience and knowledge in rock formations and mineral samples that could eventually pave the way towards becoming a CEO. The next rung on the ladder is drilling operations manager, managing daily operations and planning various drilling projects, such as exploration drilling, and revising them as necessary. Finally, a drilling operations manager may be promoted to a drilling/petroleum engineer, specializing in the production and placement of wells, earning around $104,000/year according to Salary.com.

No matter which career path a budding worker in the mining, oil, and gas industries may choose, there’s one thing necessary for career success: autonomy. Being able to work well on your own and being self-directed is key to advancing in your career in the drilling industry.

 



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