Drillers and Blasters in Surface Mining, Quarrying, and Construction

(NOC 7372)

in All Trades and Transportation

Drillers operate mobile drilling machines to bore blast holes in open-pit mines and quarries and to bore holes for blasting and for building foundations at construction sites. Blasters fill blast holes with explosives and detonate explosives to dislodge coal, ore, and rock or to demolish structures. They work for mining, quarrying and construction companies and drilling and blasting contractors.

Job Outlook

Undetermined

Read more

  • Estimate change in employment not available for this occupation.
  • Estimate 0 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for this occupation.

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

  • Estimate 4040 employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 8425 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Size of the occupation in Nova Scotia: small, with infrequent opportunities.
Demand: Several positions will become available due to retirements.
Work hours: full-time, usually.

Hourly Pay

N/A

Minimum

N/A

Median

N/A

Maximum

Annual Pay

N/A

Minimum

$32,307

Median

N/A

Maximum

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

Hourly Pay

$15.00

Minimum

$24.00

Median

$37.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$7,580

Minimum

$37,269

Median

$79,787

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Drillers operate mobile drilling machines to bore blast holes in open-pit mines and quarries and to bore holes for blasting and for building foundations at construction sites. Blasters fill blast holes with explosives and detonate explosives to dislodge coal, ore, and rock or to demolish structures. They work for mining, quarrying and construction companies and drilling and blasting contractors.

Job duties

Drillers:

  • Drive and use tracked or truck-mounted rotary drilling, air-track, or other drilling machines to bore large blast holes to specified depths at staked positions in open-pit mine or quarry.
  • Use drilling machines to drill blast holes in rock at road or other construction sites.
  • Run tracked or truck-mounted drill equipped with auger or other attachment to drill holes for building foundations or pilings.
  • May measure location and stake out pattern of holes to be drilled, load blast holes with explosives and detonate explosives to dislodge coal, ore or rock.

Blasters:

  • Read instructions or diagrams, lay out drill pattern and determine depth and diameter of blast holes and conduct field tests to determine type and quantity of explosives required.
  • Assemble primer charges using selected detonators, fuses, detonating cords, and other materials.
  • Load explosives in blast holes by hand or direct movement of bulk explosives trucks to load holes.
  • Connect electrical wires, detonating cords or fuses into series and connect series to blasting machines; press handle or button to detonate charges.
  • Handle, store and transport explosives and accessories in accordance with regulations and ensure that safety procedures are observed.
  • May use air-track, rotary, down-the-hole, or other drilling machines to drill blast holes or may direct drilling of blast holes.

Sample job titles

  • blaster apprentice
  • blaster journeyperson
  • construction blaster
  • construction driller
  • driller - quarrying
  • driller - surface mining
  • drilling machine operator - construction

Skills

  • Good hearing, eyesight, and colour vision
  • Coordination and manual dexterity
  • Strength and stamina
  • Ability to follow safety procedures accurately and precisely
  • A safety-conscious attitude
  • A mechanical aptitude
  • An interest in math and science
  • Communication skills, including writing skills required for accurate record-keeping
  • Ability to work with others or independently
  • Ability to work under the supervision of others, and/or direct the work of others

Job requirements

  • High school or equivalent (usually).
  • On-the-job training is provided.
  • Experience as a heavy equipment operator may be required for drillers.
  • Experience as a blaster helper or blaster assistant may be required for blasters.
  • Blaster Trade Qualifier option, 5,400 hours 1st Class, 3,375 hours 2nd Class, or 1,350 hours 3rd Class and other criteria.
  • Provincial blasting license is required for blasters.
  • Obtain a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Class Blaster Certificate of Qualification.
  • Obtain a blasting license from the Occupational Health and Safety Division, Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration.

Other considerations

  • There are three levels of certification in the blaster trade with 1st class being the highest level of achievement.
  • A Blaster Assistant does not hold certification and must conduct blasting activities under close supervision of a certified blaster.
  • Blasters work mainly outdoors, sometimes in remote or hazardous locations. Working conditions are often noisy and dirty.
  • The workweek can vary from 40 to 60 hours. Overtime or weekend work can be required to meet deadlines. Blasting work is often seasonal.
  • Occupational risks include explosions, flying particles, falling objects, noise, and hazardous chemicals.
  • Drillers and blasters often perform both drilling and blasting activities.
  • Blaster is not an entry-level position. Experienced blasters may advance to supervisory positions but, without additional education or training, further advancement is limited.

By the numbers

Quick look

55

employed in 2016

91.7%

employed full-time

0.0%

self employed

0.0%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
100%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
41.8

median age

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

57,925

employed in 2016

85.9%

employed full-time

11.8%

self employed

5.3%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
94.7%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
46.8

median age

Where will I likely work?

50.0%

North Shore

N/A
30.0%

Halifax

N/A
20.0%

Annapolis Valley

N/A

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

66.7%

Construction

33.3%

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

What is the age of Employment?

44.0%

55-64

33.0%

35-44

22.0%

45-54

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

24.4%

45-54

22.1%

55-64

17.7%

35-44

17.7%

25-34

10.9%

15-24

Top levels of education

45.5%

Less than high school

N/A
36.4%

High school

N/A

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

29.2%

Trade Certification

$46,494 median annual income
25.5%

High school

$31,260 median annual income
22.3%

College Diploma

$42,050 median annual income
18.7%

Less than high school

$28,319 median annual income
2.8%

Bachelor

$30,527 median annual income

Education & training

High School Diploma or Equivalent

High School Program

Adults without a high school diploma can contact the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) for tuition-free programming across the province. NSSAL oversees adult education programs in Nova Scotia. NSSAL partners with the Nova Scotia Community College, Adult High Schools, Université Sainte-Anne, and community-based learning organizations to deliver programs. NSSAL offers clear, accessible pathways from adult basic education to a high school credential or GED.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Adult High Schools

Various, NS

Community Learning Organizations

Various, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Blaster

Compulsory Certification (Mandatory): This is a regulated designated trade in Nova Scotia. Individuals must hold a Certification of Qualification, be a registered apprentice, or hold a temporary work permit to legally work in this trade.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, Occupational Health and Safety Division
Halifax, NS
No contacts were found under this occupation profile

Additional resources

There are no additional resources for this occupation.