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Careers in Coal

The coal industry employs tens-of-thousands of workers. Most jobs are related to coal-mining, which, in 2010, employed over 86,000 people. The following profiles describe commonly held positions in the coal industry, including those involved in mining, transportation, and coal-fired power plant operations.

Coal Mine Operator - Operators perform physical duties related to mining. They carry out functions for the extraction of coal, such as operating machinery that drills and loads coal.

Mine Safety Inspector - Mine Safety Inspectors are responsible for maintaining safe conditions at a coal mine. They must ensure that mining regulations are followed at a mine site by all employees.

Blasters - Blasters are responsible for explosives. They are highly skilled tradespeople who closely follow safety regulations.

Engineers - Mines are generally under the supervision of an Engineer. They are responsible for the design, building, and daily operations of the coal mine. There are many engineering specialties, including mining, geological, and environmental.

Geological Technicians - Geological Technicians collect data from potential mine sites. They prepare reports that provide geological information about a site and make suggestions for extracting coal from the site.

Loading-Machine Operators - Loading-Machine Operators use power shovels to scoop up the material produced by blasting. They place it on trucks, which than transport the materials.

Truck Operator - Truck Operators use heavy vehicles to transport coal from one area to another. They also perform maintenance tasks such as checking brakes, oil, tires, electrical systems, water, hydraulic and air. They supervise the loading of material onto the truck and then transport the material to its destination.

Mill Operator - Mill Operators tend to the equipment that pulverizes coal and conveys it to storage bins or boiler feed hoppers.

Power Plant Operator - Power Plant Operators control and monitor boilers, turbines, generators, and auxiliary equipment in power-generating plants. They regulate the output of electricity from generators, and monitor instruments to maintain voltage and regulate electricity flows from the plant.