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Occupational Profile

Blaster

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

  • Avg. Salary $79,089.00
  • Avg. Wage $55.32
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Construction Blaster, Surface Mine Blaster, Underground Mine Blaster

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

71%
71%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Blaster is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Blasters - Surface Mining, Quarrying and Construction
NOC code: 7372.2
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

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 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 More

Duties
Updated Mar 03, 2016

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

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

  • consult with geologists, 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 03, 2016

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.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 03, 2016

Blasters need the following characteristics:

  • a safety-conscious attitude
  • strength and physical fitness
  • good hearing, eyesight and colour vision
  • good hand-eye co-ordination and manual dexterity
  • an interest in math and science
  • the ability to visualize three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional drawings
  • good communication skills, including writing skills required for accurate record keeping
  • an interest in working outdoors (sometimes in isolated locations) and use various forms of wilderness transportation.

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

All blasters should enjoy operating machinery and performing tasks that require precision, conducting tests and analyzing information, and directing the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 03, 2016

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 Labourer 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
  • 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 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. 

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 03, 2016

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.

Education

To qualify for a non-mining Blaster permit, you must: be at least 18-years of age and have completed an approved course, or have 6 months of experience, and a recommendation from your employer.

To qualify for a Surface Mine Blaster or Underground Mine Blaster certificate, you must: (1) have at least 3 years of experience in a related surface or underground mining environment, (2) submit a valid First Aid certificate, (3) submit written evidence that you have received adequate instruction and training under the direction of a certified mine blaster, (4) pass a written exam administered by the Board of Examiners - Mining, and (5) submit a letter of recommendation from your employer.

Working in Alberta

Blasters who are certified by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for certification in Alberta if certified blasters in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

Contact Details

Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Program Development 
Alberta Labour
8th Floor, Labour Building
10808 - 99 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 0G5
Phone number: 780-415-8690 
Toll-free phone number (within Alberta): 1-866-415-8690  
Fax number: 780-422-0014
Website: work.alberta.ca

Blasters must also adhere to the federal Explosives Act 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 03, 2016

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.

Blasters are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 7372: Drillers and Blasters - Surface Mining, Quarrying and Construction. In Alberta, 78% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

In 2014, the Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetrolLMI) Division of Enform (formely the Petroleum Human Resources Council) indicated more than 20% of the workforce in the oil and gas industry is eligible for retirement, contributing to the labour demand required to support the industry.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 03, 2016

Drillers and blasters - surface mining, quarrying and construction
NOC code: 7372

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $0.00 $0.00 $54.23 $38.46
Overall $0.00 $0.00 $55.32 $38.46
Top $0.00 $0.00 $55.95 $38.46

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

D: Lowest Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lowest Reliability, represents a CV of more than 33.00% and/or if fewer than 10 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 25% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

71%
71%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

N/A

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

19%
19%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Fabrication
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 03, 2016

Alberta Labour, Occupational Health and Safety website: work.alberta.ca/occupational-health-safety.html

Careers in Oil + Gas website: www.careersinoilandgas.com

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

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 03, 2016. 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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