Continuous Mining Machine Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Operates self-propelled mining machines that rip coal, metal and nonmetal ores, rock, stone, or sand from the mining surface, and loads it onto conveyors or into shuttle cars in a continuous operation.

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Construction pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Determines locations, boundaries, and depths of holes or channels to be cut.
  • Repositions machines to make additional holes or cuts.
  • Operates mining machines to gather coal and convey it to floors or shuttle cars.
  • Drives machines into position at working faces.
  • Moves controls to start and regulate movement of conveyors and to start and position drill cutters or torches.
  • Observes and listens to equipment operation to detect binding or stoppage of tools or other equipment malfunctions.
  • Repairs, oils, and adjusts machines, and changes cutting teeth, using wrenches.
  • Moves levers to raise and lower hydraulic safety bars supporting roofs above machines until other workers complete framing.
  • Installs casings to prevent cave-ins.
  • Guides and assists crews laying track and resetting supports and blocking.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation involves kneeling, crouching, stooping, and/or crawling more than one-third of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of special protective items such as a breathing apparatus, safety harness, full protection suit, or radiation protection
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Whole body vibrations, such as when operating a jackhammer
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overnight travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Roof Bolter --