How Do I Become a Coal Miner?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Entrance to a coal mine.
Entrance to a coal mine.

Various types of coal mining jobs are available, and while this used to be a position exclusively for the uneducated, you may now need at least a bachelor's degree in order to become a coal miner. You can still find mining jobs without a bachelor's degree, though more and more mining companies are looking for highly trained professionals who can operate complex machinery and perform advanced studies. Do a bit of research into the common responsibilities of a modern coal miner to help you determine whether you really want to become a coal miner at all.

Large tunnels in a coal mine.
Large tunnels in a coal mine.

The best way to become a coal miner is to take part in a college degree program in engineering or a related field. This will open up the most opportunities for you, and the jobs for which you will be eligible are likely to be higher-paying. The coal mining industry often needs qualified applicants who have experience or education in engineering, surveying, geology, and even mathematics or sciences. It helps to look at job descriptions for vacancies in the industry to get a feel for what positions are available and what qualifications you will need to become a coal miner.

Most miners wear face protection, which may include a respirator.
Most miners wear face protection, which may include a respirator.

Manual laborers are still needed at many mining operations, so if you do not have a college education, you can still become a coal miner. You may or may not need a high school diploma in order to get a job, but you will need to have basic communications skills as well as basic math skills. You will also need to be in good physical condition, as it is likely that you will need to do heavy lifting and stay on your feet for long periods of time. If at all possible, you can increase your chances of getting hired by earning a post-secondary certificate or commercial driver's license. Taking part in confined space training, explosives training, or machine maintenance and repair training will also improve your chances to become a coal miner.

Coal miners must be in good physical condition.
Coal miners must be in good physical condition.

Heavy machinery operation is a prime responsibility of the coal miner, so if possible, it is useful to get some training or job experience working with heavy machinery. Earning a commercial driver's license will qualify you to operate some haulers and other machines, though additional endorsements or certifications may be necessary. Earning first aid and CPR certification may also improve your chances of getting hired to become a coal miner.

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    • Entrance to a coal mine.
      Entrance to a coal mine.
    • Large tunnels in a coal mine.
      Large tunnels in a coal mine.
    • Most miners wear face protection, which may include a respirator.
      Most miners wear face protection, which may include a respirator.
    • Coal miners must be in good physical condition.
      Coal miners must be in good physical condition.
    • Coal miners have to be comfortable using a variety of tools to extract minerals.
      Coal miners have to be comfortable using a variety of tools to extract minerals.