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

  • Avg. Salary $124,524.00
  • Avg. Wage $63.62
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Medium
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) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

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

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


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


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

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

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 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

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.

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 02, 2021


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


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.

What You Need

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

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.

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 [pdf] 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

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.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 02, 2021
Drillers and blasters - surface mining, quarrying and construction

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
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $17.72 $66.67 $44.95 $41.23
Overall $26.05 $100.00 $63.62 $41.23
Top $32.00 $166.67 $98.13 $42.00

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.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

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:

Petro LMI, Careers in Oil + Gas website:

Natural Resources Canada, Explosives Safety and Security Branch (ESSB) website:

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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