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What Are the Pros and Cons of Working as a Coal Miner?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Becoming a coal miner does not usually require any expensive and time-consuming schooling, but it is very physically demanding. Coal companies also typically pay their miners very well and provide them with excellent benefits. Mining is usually considered very dangerous work, however, and miners are at risk of physical injury as well as chronic health conditions. Black lung disease, for instance, is often associated with coal mining.

A person interested in becoming a coal miner usually does not have to go to college or even a technical school. The low education requirements of this job often attract many people who can not afford to pursue a traditional post-secondary education. Many of these workers learn how to work in the mines from on-the-job training.

Physical work is often a major requirement of being a coal miner, though. A coal miner should be very physically fit and healthy. He should be able to work very long shifts in cramped quarters. These workers are also usually expected to be able to lift heavy objects. At the end of the work day, many coal miners are usually very tired and sore.

Coal miner pay is also usually quite high compared to some other jobs. In the United States, for example, a laborer in a coal mine will usually make more than $20 US Dollars (USD) an hour. The benefits a coal miner receives are also usually quite good. Many coal companies, for instance, will also provide their employees with medical insurance and retirement plans. Some companies also offer housing for their coal miners.

Although safety is often a priority at many coal mines, one of the biggest disadvantages of being a coal miner is that it is still a dangerous job. Injuries are not uncommon when working in a coal mine, particularly an underground coal mine. Falling objects, fires, and explosions are all real dangers in a coal mine. Although they are not as common today as they were in previous years, collapsed coal mines are also still a risk to many coal miners.

Coal miners are also at risk of developing chronic respiratory illnesses, which are caused by breathing in thick coal dust. Black lung disease is a common respiratory illness contracted by coal miners. In fact, it is also often referred to as coal worker's pneumoconiosis. A coal miner who breathes in coal dust for many years is at risk of developing this disease.

Symptoms of black lung disease include shortness of breath and coughing. There is no treatment for this disease, but coal miners who suffer from it are typically advised to avoid respiratory irritants, especially coal dust. Eventually, black lung disease could lead to more serious complications, including chronic bronchitis and respiratory failure.

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Discussion Comments
By Wisedly33 — On Sep 06, 2014

I guess one pro of the business is that coal miners don't need a higher education, which in an impoverished family, is a good thing. And for that same family, it's a paycheck.

For so long, the mining companies fought safety regulations and treated their workers as lower than dirt. It was shameful.

But I guess if you're not well education, desperately need a job and live in mining country, then working for the coal mines is still a good way to earn some money. I'm not sure any amount of money is worth it, but it might keep a family from starving to death.

By Scrbblchick — On Sep 05, 2014

Honestly, if there are any pros to working in a coal mine, I can't think of too many. Conditions are better than they used to be, and at least the miners aren't paid in that worthless company scrip anymore. But it's still an extremely dangerous job, no matter where in the world you do it.

My great-grandfather was a coal miner and he managed to survive long enough to retire. But he was plagued with breathing problems and the company pension was a pittance. Fortunately, those were the days when you could live on a lot less. He lived in the country and was mostly self-sufficient.

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