Earth resources development engineering grads find themselves in an unprecedented mining boom in both developed and developing nations. A new, modern gold rush is upon us, but instead of gold we’re extracting cobalt, lithium, aluminum and more from the planet. Earth resources engineers are driving the metaphorical drills in not just extraction technology, but waste cleanup and removal as well.
Let’s talk about your job prospects as a newly minted earth resources engineer, because there’s a lot of ground to cover. In this Graduate School Insights blog post, we’re going to tackle:
- What is Earth Resources Engineering?
- The State of the Mining Industry (As it Relates to Engineering)
- Job Prospects
- Job Satisfaction
- Earth Resources Engineering Job Titles and Salaries
What is Earth Resources Engineering?
Earth resources engineers work to optimize pretty much every aspect of mining—from the act of mining itself, to waste disposal, reducing environmental impact and improving safety protocols. They occupy a kind of hybrid role in the engineering discipline, working in tandem with geologists, scientists, drilling crews and, of course other engineers. Earth resources engineers even help develop new technologies to make their jobs easier. At Mines, graduate students in earth resources development engineering develop knowledge and skills in mining sustainability, reclamation, Earth observation, modeling and other emerging technical and social issues.
These hardy engineers typically work 40-hour work weeks, either in an office setting, on-location at drill sites, or a mix of both. The work can either be in heavily industrialized areas, or in remote regions of developing nations. Though it’s no guarantee, the future of the mining industry is in areas such as India and Africa, where resources are abundant.
The State of the Mining Industry (As it Relates to Engineering)
The mining sector is integral to the global economy—so much so that the top 40 mining companies alone were estimated to be worth $692 billion dollars in 2019. Global economic expansion in nations like China, India and Nigeria mean that the demand for common (or rare) earth minerals is set to explode by 2050. Earth resources engineers are pivotal in the global economy for their role in identifying new opportunities and refining technologies that power the world’s enormous demand for earth resources.
The United States is currently the world’s second-leading producer of some vital minerals and materials. We account for nearly 17% of the world’s coal supplies. We’re also the leading producers of beryllium, soda ash and sulphur, as well as the third-largest producer of copper and gold. Mines in the United States produced an estimated $82.2 billion in minerals in 2018, and that figure is expected to increase as we shift away from coal and more toward minerals that are conducive to storing and manufacturing electricity, such as lithium and cobalt.
Job Prospects and Job Satisfaction for Earth Resources Engineers
Job prospects for mining and geological engineers are pretty solid. Mining is shifting in the United States, but is still humming along. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 4% (average) increase in the sector through 2029.
As far as job satisfaction goes, mining engineers fall under the “engineering spectrum” of careers, which historically hasn’t always produced the highest levels of career satisfaction. That said, 68% of mining engineers report being happy with their career.
Earth Resources Engineer Job Titles and Salaries
Let’s discuss some common job titles and salaries for earth resources development engineers. Keep in mind these salaries will fluctuate based on experience, location, company and cost of living. With that in mind, let’s dive in!