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How to Become a Geological Engineer

Bachelor's degree

Individuals wishing to become a geological or mining engineer need a bachelor's degree from an accredited engineering program. In order to work as a professional engineer, licensure is required to obtain credentials. Every place has their own specific licensure requirements; however, passing 2 major exams is generally a part of the process.

Education & Training

Those interested in taking a mining engineering program ideally should focus on science and math courses while in high school.

There are not many schools who offer programs in mining engineering. A bachelor's degree in this field includes the following studies: thermodynamics, geology, safety, mine design and physics. These programs integrate traditional classroom courses with field work and a laboratory component.

ABET accredited programs in geological and mining engineering are the best to be involved with. ABET accreditation is awarded based on factors including: facility, curriculum and the program's faculty.

Individuals working in a 2 year master's degree programs in geological engineering and mining engineering will take specialized courses including: mining regulations and mineral resource development. Certain programs may require a written thesis in order to graduate.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Wherever engineers are directly offering their services to the public, licensure is required. The NCEES or National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying has 2 exams for licensure within this occupation. The initial exam is the FE or Fundamentals of Engineering exam. The second exam is known as the PPE or the Principals and Practices of Engineering. The FE exam may be completed after graduation. Those engineers who pass this exam are often referred to as EITs or Engineers In Training or Engineer Interns or EIs. Once EITs and EIs accrue 4 years of relevant work experience, they may be eligible for taking the PPE exam.

Once licensure has been obtained, licensed engineers are referred to as PEs or Professional Engineers. Typically, candidates must complete the following to obtain licensure:

A) An ABET accredited engineering program degree

B) Successful exam completion

C) 4 years of relevant work experience.

In numerous places, engineers are required to take continuing education credits in order to maintain their licensure. Most places will recognize licenses from other locations as long as the licensure requirements meet or exceed local requirements.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Analytical skills: Geological and mining engineers need to take the environment into consideration. They must consider how their immediate actions will be implicated in terms of environmental reclamation. It is necessary to take a variety of issues into consideration simultaneously.

Decision-making skills: These engineers conduct work that affects the lives of the miners as well as the companies' profits. They must anticipate issues and deal with them immediately as they occur.

Logical-thinking skills: These engineers are involved in planning mineral processing, operations within the mine and environmental reclamation. Therefore, they have to possess the ability to put plans into place logically and coherently.

Math skills: Geological engineers and mining engineers rely on the principals of trigonometry, calculus and a variety of other advanced math topics to troubleshoot, analyze and design their work.

Problem-solving skills: Geological and mining engineers must conduct mine exploration, plan for proper operation techniques, design a variety of environmental reclamation projects and complete mineral processing. These complex projects require problem solving skills to help identify and complete specific goals.

Writing skills: Geological and mining engineers are required to prepare instructions for coworkers and numerous reports. Having the skill to write and communicate effectively with others is vital for sharing their plans and thoughts.

How To Advance

Individuals beginning their engineering career as graduates commonly work under the supervision of more experienced engineers. Within large companies, engineers may receive seminar style training or formal classroom training. Once new engineers gain experience and knowledge they are assigned to more difficult topics and projects. With additional experience comes more independence to solve issues, develop designs and make key decisions.

Engineers may advance to supervise team members or a staff of technicians and engineers. Engineering management positions may become available along with sales jobs. Having an engineering background can provide a competitive edge for those pursuing sales. They have the capacity to discuss the technical aspects of a product. Participating in installation, product planning and use is also possible.