A gold miner is a mining professional who specializes in the mining and extraction of gold. Gold may be found in mixed mineral deposits, in which case the gold miner is part of a larger mining crew which is extracting several different minerals at the same, or it may be found independently. Gold mining occurs in numerous nations around the world, and the primary requirement to be a gold miner is usually physical strength; people who want to work in more advanced areas of mining may need degrees, but miners on the ground usually receive the training they need on the job.
Gold can be mined in several different ways. In cases where the ore is underground or bound up in deposits of rock such as quartz, gold miners can work in several different positions to access the ore. Blasters carefully place explosive charges which are used to break up the rock to expose the ore, while equipment operators move rock around, removing ore-bearing rock from the site of the mine for additional processing. Gold miners can also be part of the safety teams which make sure that mining sites are kept as safe as possible for the workers, addressing issues such as the potential for rockslides and collapse.
Gold miners can also work in processing facilities which extract ore from rock. Historically there were a number of ways to accomplish this, but modern mines usually use chemicals such as cyanide to wash and treat the rock, leaving the gold behind. This work can be dangerous and highly polluting, with workers being charged with the responsibility for keeping the site as clean as possible, reporting spills, and keeping the work site safe.
It is also possible to work as a gold miner in a site where gold is being removed from alluvial deposits in stream beds. Many people have heard of panning for gold, in which deposits are scooped up in a pan and gently swirled to leave the gold behind. This practice is still used in some regions of the world, but more commonly miners utilize placer mining, which involves large sluices to process alluvial deposits on a big scale.
Pay for being a gold miner varies. Blasters tend to make more than casual mine workers, for example, because they have specialized training and their work is more dangerous. A skilled gold miner can work his or her way up in the ranks of the mine, gradually working into a supervisory position which may pay more and be slightly less dangerous. People who are willing to go to school can opt to pursue training in geology so that they can be on the crew which identifies sites for potential mines, maps out mines, and consults throughout the mining process; pay for these professionals can be very high, especially when they are skilled at pinpointing useful deposits.