Coal mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, with tens of miners dying on the job each year. However, in recent years, this industry has been struggling due to low demand.
As a result, coal has been losing popularity as people shift to greener fuels such as natural gas and renewable energy sources like solar power. Still, there are some industries that still rely on coal mining and pay relatively well for it.
Since being a coal miner is one of the high-paying jobs nobody wants, what other jobs in the coal mining industry can you do apart from being a coal miner?
This list will highlight the best-paying jobs in the coal mining industry you should consider if you want a lucrative career.
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Best-paying jobs in coal mining
Below we take a keener look at the fifteen best-paying jobs in coal mining in the United States. Some of these jobs pay as high as $175K a year.
1. Mining Foreman
The mining foreman is the person in charge of the entire operation of a mine, including the layout of the mine and any safety issues that come along with it. They are also responsible for improving cost performance and maintaining safe working conditions.
In order to become a mining foreman, you will typically need to obtain training in mining engineering technology and mining operations management and have experience working in an underground coal mine.
As well as possessing technical skills, you must have strong interpersonal skills to be able to manage many people both on paper and on-site at all times.
This career is among the best-paying jobs in coal mining, with the average salary for mining foremen in the United States being $85,722 and the highest earners getting $99,948 per year.
2. Mine Manager
The mine manager is similar to the mine foreman but has slightly more responsibility. A mine manager is often a member of the senior management team in a coal mining company and they play a crucial role in making sure the entire operation runs smoothly.
If you are looking to become a mine manager, then you will need experience in an office setting and at least one to two years of experience working as an underground supervisor in a coal mine.
You must also have strong leadership skills, be able to deal with both friendly and hostile confrontations, be organized, be able to read and interpret documents accurately and write reports easily.
The average salary for mining managers in the US is $116,992 and the highest-paid earn as high as $206,000 per year.
3. Production Engineer
Typically, coal mines have several production engineers working in the office and on the plant floor. A production engineer is responsible for directing the entire operation of a mine and must be able to deal with difficult people and situations with tact.
They also need strong leadership skills, as well as in-depth knowledge of mining technology, mining equipment, and current regulation to be able to make practical decisions that affect the entire mine operation.
To become a production engineer you will need a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering or industrial engineering, two years of experience as a miner foreman or plant superintendent along with another two years of experience working as a mine manager.
The average salary for mining production engineers is $82,355. The highest-paid 10% earn more than $113,000 per year, which makes this career one of the highest-paying jobs in the coal mining industry.
4. Mine Electrician
Working underground in an area with low lighting requires an electrician or electrical maintenance mechanic to maintain electrical systems, control panels, and other machinery lights.
Electricians are responsible for providing all of the electrical needs at a coal mine. This includes installing new electrical systems, repairing and maintaining the existing electrical system,s and making sure everything is in compliance with state and federal guidelines.
To become an electrician you must have a post-secondary education with specific training to work as an electrician in an underground mine. You must also be able to read blueprints and schematics in order to lay out circuitry or troubleshoot electrical problems in a mine.
Mining electricians in the United States of America earn an average salary of $98514 with the best-paid getting $129,500 per year.
5. Mining Equipment Operator
Mining equipment operators are responsible for operating all of the machinery inside a coal mine such as longwall shearers, continuous miners, loading machines, and haul trucks.
Mine equipment operators generally have the same qualifications as surface miner foremen, with their experience and qualification requirements varying based on the type of equipment they are operating.
To work as a mining equipment operator you must be able to read and interpret blueprints and have at least two years of experience in underground coal mines.
The average salary for mining equipment/machine operators is $80,826 per year. The highest-paid earns $101,436 per year.
6. Underground Surveyor
Surveyors working on surface mine operations are responsible for preparing maps, conducting surveys, and collecting data at the site of a mine. The data collected will be used to determine the best course of action in order to extract coal in an environmentally friendly way.
To become a surveyor you will need at least one year of experience as a mining engineer working underground or on the surface of a mine as well as three years of experience in mining surveying or mapping.
Those working as underground surveyors are responsible for making sure that all regulatory requirements for mining operations are met based on their state and/or provincial regulations.
Mine surveyors in the US earn an average salary of $55,837 per year. Those in senior positions or with more experience earn $95,000 per year.
7. Mine Safety Inspector
Mine safety inspectors are responsible for making sure the safety regulations set out by their states are being followed. They also ensure the mine is in compliance with environmental laws and ensure all workers are aware of their rights.
To become a mine safety inspector you will need to have a post-secondary education, typically in environmental science or geology, and two years of experience working as an underground surveyor. You must also be able to work independently, possess good interpersonal skills, and have strong leadership skills.
The average income for a mine safety inspector is $85,626 per year. With the highest-paid professionals earning $105,966 per year, this is simply one of the best-paying jobs in coal mining.
8. Geologist/Surveyor (Surface Mine Operations)
Geologists and surveyors working in surface mines perform similar functions as those working in underground mines. The difference is that they are working on the surface and their duties vary depending on the type of mine being worked.
Geologists and surveyors are responsible for making sure that the entire operation is meeting environmental, safety, and production requirements.
To work in surface mining operations you must have post-secondary education in geology or mining engineering technology with at least one year of working as a mining engineer.
You can also check these high-paying geology jobs if this is an area of interest for you.
9. Surface Mine Engineer
A surface mine engineer is responsible for designing and developing the layout of a mine. They design the rock and coal mining equipment, as well as any new excavation methods that will be used in their mine.
In a nutshell, they are responsible for finding new and innovative ways to mine coal. To become a surface mine engineer you will need a post-secondary education with at least one year of experience as an engineer working underground or on the surface of a mine.
According to PayScale, surface mine engineers earn an average salary of $85,439 per year, which makes this one of the best-paying jobs in coal mining in the United States of America.
10. Equipment Maintenance Technician
Equipment maintenance technicians are responsible for making sure the equipment used in a coal mine work properly. This involves testing all instruments, performing routine and preventative maintenance, and ensuring that work areas are safe at all times.
To become an equipment maintenance technician you will need a post-secondary education with specific training in the maintenance of mining or construction equipment. You must also be able to troubleshoot problems, follow specifications, and have good communication skills.
Equipment maintenance technicians working in coal mines earn an average salary of $57,087. The highest-paid technicians earn $92,000 per year.
Metallurgists are responsible for determining the best one to use in order to produce a certain grade of coal. They should be able to read blueprints and engineering drawings to determine whether the ore can be used in the mine.
To become a metallurgist and work in the coal mines, one must have post-secondary education with an emphasis on mining engineering technology or geology and four years of experience working as a mining engineer.
The average salary of a metallurgist is $94,025 per year. It is among the best-paying jobs in coal mining and you can earn as high as $129,439 per year.
12. Geoscience Technician
Geoscience technicians are responsible for taking core samples from the mine site to determine the type of rock being mined and what grade of coal it will produce.
They also make sure that appropriate permits have been obtained before any mining takes place and make sure that all equipment used in the mine is up to code.
To become a geoscience technician you will first need to complete an apprenticeship program for two years, which includes a minimum of 1,860 hours of paid on-the-job training.
Geoscience technicians earn an average salary of $68,847 and you can earn as high as $108,000 per year.
13. Coal Quality Assurance Inspector
Coal quality assurance inspectors inspect coal for the presence or absence of specific purity standards. They also ensure equipment used in the preparation of coal is up to code and that workers are aware of their rights in case of an emergency.
To become a coal quality assurance inspector you will need a post-secondary education with an emphasis on mining engineering technology or geology and three years of experience as an underground surveyor.
The average salary for coal quality assurance inspectors is $65,252 with the highest-paid earning $117,000 per year.
FAQS on Best-Paying Jobs in Coal Mining
Let’s now have a look at a few frequently asked questions regarding the highest-paying coal mining jobs in the United States.
a). What are the best-paying jobs in coal mining in the US?
The three best-paying coal mining jobs in the United States are mine safety manager ($90,696 per year), mine manager ($79,914 per year), and mine geologist ($87,234 per year). Other high-paying jobs include metallurgist, underground surveyor, mine foreman, and mine electrician.
b). Is coal mining a good career path?
Coal mining is a stable career path that provides great benefits and security. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment opportunities in the mining industry will continue to grow by 12% over the next decade, which is higher than the national average of 7%.
Coal miners also enjoy one of the highest wages in the country, with on-the-job training programs available to individuals interested in careers as surveyors and mapping technicians.
Although coal mining might not seem as exciting as other careers, its earnings potential speaks for itself. Remember that an annual salary of $100,000 is not uncommon among professionals working in coal mining.
And as you can see from this article, some of the highest-paying jobs in the coal mining industry are highly specialized. This means in order to become a successful professional, you must first get the right education and acquire experience working in different areas.
Watch this video to get an overview of coal mining as a career path. Credit: Just The Job.