Salaries of consulting mining engineers
June 10, 2010 by Jack Caldwell
In my e-mail in-box was this request:
I was wondering if you could give me some idea of what Consultants are making (Mining Engineer with 6-8 years experience). You’ve mentioned that consultants are well paid but I’m interested to know what would be typical – partly because I’m about to take a job with a mining consultancy and the salary is significantly lower than an Australian offer I also have on the table as well as being significantly less than what my current job offers. I simply can’t find any real information for consultants.
Here is my reply:
You hit on one of the problems in establishing salaries: what consultants pay.
Generally consultants do not disclose information about their salary scales. So the information is sparse.
I work with Roberston Geoconsultants so I have a small data base to go on.
Generally the salary is based on what one can charge clients for the person’s services. The ratio of charge out to salary is generally about 2.0 to 2.5.
We generally offer beginning students with a first degree between $50K and $60K. If the student has a masters we offer between $60K and $70K. But no guarantees on these numbers; it all depends on the students skills, experience, and the demands of the market place.
We generally employ geologists, hydrologists, and civil engineers. Mining engineers are reported to earn more, but the data is not readily available on this one.
There is no doubt you will earn more with a mining company than with a consultant for the first decade or more. It is only once one becomes a specialist and the mines find it cheaper to employ you as a consultant than as a full-time employee that your salary with a consultant will be more than with a mining company. The point is by that stage you have specialist skills that are not needed full-time on a mine, but those skills are in demand at a number of mines on a project by project basis.
Also clear that you will earn more in Australia than anywhere else. But keep in mind that the cost of living in Australia is very high, so you need a higher salary just to survive. The same applies with consultants in Southern California.
If you decide as a six to eight year experience mining engineer to join a consultant, you should base you decision on life style, not salary.
Clearly you can make more on a remote mine, or even in the headoffices of a big mining company. As a consultant you will earn less, but should be able to live in a city and enjoy the comforts of the suburbs as compared to a mining camp.
Also in deciding to join a consulting company, you should consider the long-term opportunities–or lack thereof. Do you want to undertake the demands of ongoing study and continuous development of skills that are inherently necessary in consulting? Keep in mind that as a consultant you are only as good as your last great idea. In a mining company, it is your skill in making things happen that counts, as compared to ideas and deep knowledge.
None of this is particularly informative I am afraid. But the fact is that the salaries paid by consultants to the mining industry are not readily available. It all depends on the consultant, their clients, the market place, and the skills of the job seeker. For example, I know some very wealthy consultants to the mining industry. But they are very experienced and own shares in the consulting companies thay have worked for for a long time. Personally I get comfortably paid for enjoying life as a consultant to the mining industry, but then I have many years experience and friends in the industry.
At the end of the day, it all depends. You get paid in a competitive environment that is always changing. For now, please share with us any information you may have about salaries for young mining engineering consultants.