Drilling and Blasting are basically two different occupations, although many individuals are qualified to perform both jobs and do both. Drillers and Blasters are not only employed in the Mining Industry, they are also frequently employed in the oil and gas industry, the construction industry, for forestry companies and avalanche control companies as well as many other industries.
For those choosing to work in the mining industry, Drillers will typically drive and operate mobile drilling machines such as tracked or truck mounted rotary drilling machines to bore holes in open pit mines or quarries. They may also be responsible for drilling blast holes in rock at road or other construction sites and drilling holes for building foundations or pilings. Basically a Driller will be responsible for creating blast holes in open pit mines and quarries for various functions including the construction of building foundations. The responsibilities of a Blaster is a little different as Blasters deal with explosives and are trained to place explosives in the blast holes and detonate explosives with the aim of dislodging rocks, ore, coal etc. and to demolish structures.
For those wanting to work as a Driller and or Blaster in Canada, the demand for these skills varies depending on where one wants to work in Canada. It is also important to remember that each region in Canada has different employment needs and industries. Canada has strict regulations and requirements when it comes to the qualifications required to be a Driller and Blaster.
For example should you wish to work in British Columbia as a Driller and/or Blaster you must have a valid blasters certificate issued or approved by the WorkSafeBCBoard. The Welcomebc occupational guide for Immigrations to BC gives a fair amount of information in terms of the exact requirements.
It is important to remember however that typically Employers would require that you would need a high school diploma, and for Drillers a heavy equipment operator qualification and some on the job training and for Blasters you would need a blasting license and experience as a Blaster Helper in surface mining/quarrying. Certified Blasters in British Columbia in Canada must work as an Apprentice under a Journeyman Blaster to learn the trade. It is not uncommon for an entry level worker to take up to five years to become a Journeyman Blaster.
In order to be able to work as a Driller and Blaster in British Columbia in Canada, one would need to be able to drive or operate track or truck-mounted rotary drilling equipment. One would also need to be able to make accurate measurements. It would be important to be able to read blueprints for drill patterns and tests, and to be able to follow written codes and regulations. Because of the nature of the job one would need to be physically able to drill, wire and place explosives. This means you would need to be physically fit and strong and also to be mechanically orientated. Depending on where in Canada you are working, you will often also work in remote locations where you can be exposed to extreme weather conditions including dust and being exposed to loud noises.
Career prospects for Drillers and Blasters can be great, and they will often lead into Supervisory positions or drilling related training, regulatory or safety related positions. According to the WelcomeBC Occupational Guide the hourly rate that can be expected to earn is around CAD10.25 – CAD26.92 hourly wage. I am presuming these salaries are across all industries and not specific to the mining industry, also that they are specific to British Columbia. I thought it would be good to get a comparison as to how Drillers and Blasters in Mining in Canada can expect to earn. These figures are taken entirely from the data of our salary survey, and are not specific to British Columbia.
According to the Drillers and Blasters who are based in Canada, not specifically British Columbia, and who have taken the CareerMine salary survey, the hourly wage on the 25%ile is CAD23, a median of CAD30 and on the 75%ile CAD46. So it seems according to our data that Drillers and Blasters in mining in Canada may still be earning better wages than those in other industries, even with the mining industry as depressed as it has been. Please keep in mind however that these figures are taken entirely from the data of those Drillers and Blasters based in Canada who have taken our salary survey, also that they are not all based in British Columbia, but across all regions in Canada and that salaries can also vary tremendously depending on where in Canada you are based.