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Blaster

Blasters break up rock and demolish structures by placing and detonating explosives.

Also Known As

Construction Blaster, Shooters, Surface Mine Blaster, Underground Mine Blaster

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Blasters - Surface Mining, Quarrying and Construction (7372.2) 
  • 2011 NOC: Drillers and blasters - surface mining, quarrying and construction (7372) 
  • 2016 NOC: Drillers and blasters - surface mining, quarrying and construction (7372) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Blasters - Surface Mining, Quarrying and Construction

2006 NOC: 7372.2

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to connect electrical wires, detonating cords and fuses into series, and to connect the series to blasting machines; may operate air-track, rotary, down-the-hole and other drilling machines

INNOVATIVE

Interest in analyzing information to conduct field tests to determine the type and quantity of explosives required

DIRECTIVE

Interest in speaking - signalling to direct workers in assembling primer charges using selected detonators, fuses, detonating cords and other materials, and to direct bulk-explosive trucks to load holes; may direct drilling of blast holes

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 02, 2021

Duties vary depending on the industry on which blasters are employed. For information about blasting-related operations in the oil and gas industry and related services, see the Wireline Operator occupational profile.

In general, blasters employed in the oil and gas, mining, quarrying or construction industries:

  • Consult with geologists, geophysicists to observe rock characteristics and jointing (strength and faulting in rock) to determine Rock Quality Index (RQI)
  • Study requirements, plan drill patterns, determine the depth and diameter of blast holes and conduct field tests, if required, to determine the type explosive and quantity to use
  • Use detonating cord, delays, shock tubes and detonators to create blasting circuits
  • Prepare detonators, fuses, detonating cords, primers, explosive charges and other materials, or supervise the placement of explosive charges
  • Load explosives into blast holes by hand or by using mechanical delivery systems on bulk explosives trucks
  • Check series of electrical wires with blasting galvanometers or blasting multimeters to ensure complete circuits
  • Place blast control mats and control blast sites to ensure safety regulations are met
  • Conduct safety check and fire charges
  • Deal with misfires or missed holes
  • Check blast sites for hazards such as overhanging rock, harmful fumes and scale underground loose hanging rock with scaling bar
  • Maintain blast equipment and ensure that safety procedures for handling, storing and moving explosives are followed
  • Keep records of explosives inventories, blast patterns, design, tie-in, times, weather and other relevant information

Blasters may direct drilling activities or operate air-track, rotary, down hole or other drilling machines to drill blast holes.

In the construction industry, blasters break up rock and soil, dislodge tree stumps and demolish structures such as buildings or bridges. To avoid damaging surrounding terrain or structures via ground vibration or flying debris, blasters often use a series of small, precise, timed detonations instead of one large explosion.

In the mining industry, blasters prepare and blast large quantities of rock to improve mine equipment efficiency. Some mining blasts break up hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rock in one blast. Such blasts often involve the preparation and use of thousands of kilograms of pre-packaged or bulk explosives.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 02, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Blasters primarily work outdoors in all types of weather conditions, sometimes in remote or hazardous locations. Working conditions often are noisy and dirty. Occupational risks include explosions, flying particles, falling objects, noise and hazardous chemicals.

Lifting up to 20 kilograms is required.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 02, 2021

Blasters need:

  • A safety-conscious attitude
  • Strength and physical fitness
  • Good hearing, eyesight and colour vision
  • Good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity
  • An interest in math and science
  • Ability to visualize three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional drawings
  • Communication skills, including writing skills required for accurate record keeping

Those employed in underground mines also must be able to work in confined spaces.

All blasters should enjoy:

  • operating machinery
  • performing tasks that require precision,
  • conducting tests and analyzing information
  • Supervising and coordinating the work of others
  • Working outdoors (sometimes in isolated locations) and using various forms of wilderness transportation.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 02, 2021
  • Minimum Education Varies

Blasters start in entry level positions and advance to more responsible positions as they gain experience. For example, they may start as labourers or heavy equipment operators (for more information, see the Construction Craft Worker and Heavy Equipment Operator occupational profiles). Employers may prefer to hire applicants who have a high school diploma or related experience.

In the oil and gas industry blasters require:

  • 6 month experience on a line crew as a blasting assistant
  • A valid Blaster Permit
  • A valid driver's licence
  • Training operating all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles

Blasters may be trained on the job as blaster helpers or take related courses before moving into blasting positions. In Alberta, approved blaster safety training courses are offered by companies listed on Alberta Labour and Immigration’s Occupational Health and Safety website.

Due to the size and quantity of explosives used and the number of people potentially exposed to blasting hazards, detailed knowledge of safe work practices and related explosive manufacturers' specifications is essential for blasters in the mining industry.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 02, 2021
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Blaster

Blasters place and detonate explosives. They may work in the oil and gas, mining, quarrying or construction industries.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and Occupational Health and Safety Code, anyone who handles, prepares, fires, burns or destroys an explosive for non-mining work must hold a valid Blaster permit. For conducting blasting operations in a mine, you must have a Surface Mine Blaster certificate or Underground Mine Blaster certificate (depending on the nature of the mine). Blaster permits and Mine Blaster certificates are issued by Alberta Labour.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Blaster.

Additional Information

Blasters must also adhere to the federal Explosives Act [pdf] which outlines the proper procedure for storage, possession, transportation, sale and destruction of explosive materials. Regular site inspections scrutinize record keeping and storage procedures to ensure standard procedures are followed.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 02, 2021

Blasters in the oil and gas, construction, mining and quarrying industries are employed by:

  • Seismic companies
  • Oil well perforation companies
  • Surface mining companies (for example, oil sands companies)
  • Underground mining companies (for example, hard rock or coal)
  • Rock quarries
  • Construction companies
  • Drilling and blasting contractors

Employment in the non-mining sector often is seasonal. Employment in the mining sector usually is full time, year-round.

Blaster is not an entry-level position. Experienced blasters may advance to supervisory positions but, without additional education or training, further advancement is limited.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 7372: Drillers and blasters - surface mining, quarrying and construction occupational group, 88.6% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 7372: Drillers and blasters - surface mining, quarrying and construction occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 02, 2021

Alberta Labour and Immigration, Occupational Health and Safety website: www.alberta.ca/occupational-health-safety.aspx

Petro LMI, Careers in Oil + Gas website: careersinoilandgas.com

Natural Resources Canada, Explosives Safety and Security Branch (ESSB) website: nrcan.gc.ca/explosives

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 02, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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