How Much Does a Mining Consultant Make?
Giving a hard and firm figure for a mining consultant salary is as difficult and counterproductive as declaring a pay scale for any other engineering, geology or mineral career. The short answer: a mining consultant makes what a client will pay. There are a number of extenuating circumstances that determine how much a mining consultant will get paid in annual wages, but in general, the ones that tend to matter most are:
This is more important for getting your foot in the door and gaining experience (see below). As an enthusiastic and idealistic undergraduate or graduate student, you may be tempted to take “soft skill” courses that deal with concepts such as sustainability and technology. But in the real world, soft skills are valueless unless they are saddled firmly in the context of hard, engineering, mathematical and analytical skills.
Employers and consulting firms won’t typically ask you to write an essay on your philosophy and beliefs—instead, they’ll usually ask you “can you do X?” Keep this in mind as you craft the course of your education.
In general, students with an undergraduate degree might make anywhere between $45,000 and $65,000 out of the gate. When you get a master’s under your belt, expect that number to reach into the $70,000 range.
Experience and Specialty
As with all professions, the generalist starves while the specialist excels. This is especially true in the field of mining consultants. Few hiring companies and project managers will be looking for someone who knows a little bit of everything. Rather, they will be looking for someone to fill a specific niche on their team. The problem is, if you have 10 years of experience as a civil engineer, but the client is looking for a hydrologist, you’ll still get paid as much as an entry level or junior consultant.
How much more a specialist can’t be quantified—but it’s significant. But in general, a specialist gets paid much, much more than an in-house staffer at a mining company. But work may be fewer and further between.
Location, Location, Location
The money’s where the work is, obviously. But keep in mind that how much you get paid vs. how much you have left in your pocket depends on where you are working. For example, Australia has some of the highest paid mining jobs in the world. But living in Australia over the duration of the job will be much more costly than, say, living on a mining camp in Wyoming while mining in the Powder River Basin. But that’s a tradeoff, too—would you rather have the comforts of city living with all the amenities, or would you like more take home pay with the inconvenience of sleeping on a cot or commuting on a jet each weekend?
The Job Market
Consultants fill the niche when there aren’t enough skilled in-house staff or professional engineers to get the job done. But when the economy is bad, production halts and layoffs abound, the market gets flooded. Instead of hiring consultants, big companies might instead bring out-of-work mining engineers back on a temporary or provisional basis. Or, laid off mining engineers may end up starting their own mining consultant firms.
At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to: competition. How fierce is the competition, and how fierce are you? Mining consultants can expect to enjoy high salaries—if they can find the work. Make sure you know how to position yourself and make sure you’re willing to make the sacrifices required to kick start your career.