×
INTELLIGENT WORK FORUMS
FOR ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALS

Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office
2

Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

(OP)
I am at a cross road where I received two offers, one from a mining company (owner of the mine) and one from a tier 1 design and consulting company. The mine is in Western Australia, roster being 5-2 & 4-3 at 56 hours pw, as a rail engineer. The design & consult job is in South Australia (I live here currently), standard 40 hours pw, and the job is in geotechnical engineering field. The FIFO job pays twice as much as the office job. Despite that, I am having trouble seeing the obvious 2x pay as worth it or not when considering work-"hustle" balance, career development, and social life.
  • Work & hustle because I plan to grind for the next 5 years of my life to get a lot of money and prepare for a business or to obtain a live-able passive income through investments. I am thinking with the FIFO job, there will be more money for saving and to invest, but hardly anytime to learn or try side-hustles that could provide business acumens which I am lacking. During university and even now, I still imagine that I will do day job as an office-based engineer, and do business/finance as a second income or long-term knowledge investment. Would the certainty of the FIFO's salary package be more efficient in achieving my financial goals than striking out at night after office hours?
  • Career development wise, I am more familiar with the career progression in the geotechnical job of being a grad, then slowly going to more senior engineering roles until principal or moving into director/C suite positions (very hard). For the FIFO job, I heard a friend said consulting company appreciate an engineer who worked on the client's side of the business and that after 2-4 years at the mine, I may transfer to an office consulting job for one of the mining client's consultants. If the second path is possible/ has happened before, does it seems like the more profitable and rewarding career development when comparing to the traditional seniority pathway in design/consult?
  • Social life wise, A simple question. Will I ever have time for love or a committed relationship working FIFO in the mine?
Any thoughts are well-appreciated.
By the way, could someone with more experience details me what I would do as a rail engineer in a mine site? Does the work involve design or mostly operational and maintenance work for railways?
Thank you.
FYI, Australian international student, freshly graduated with an aim to work in Australia until at least I obtained my Permanent residency.

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

What does 5-2, 4&3 mean exactly.

I can guess but would rather know.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

(OP)
Hi LittleInch, 5-2 4-3 means I would work 5 days on site for the first week, take 2 days off, and then 4 days on site for the next week, take 3 days off, and repeat that again for the next fortnight cycle. From what I understand, miner often prefers equal roster (14-14, 8-8, etc...) so that they effectively have half a year off, while roster like mine is just like office hours, but in the sun and heat of a mine.

P/s You responded faster than I could finish my sleep =)! Ty for checking in

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

FIFO??

You should ask detailed questions of both companies regarding tasks/responsibilities, training provided, and job progression/promotions.

“Rail engineer” sounds like driving a train, hmmmmm.

Have you visited the town/village/barracks at the mine area where you will be living?


RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

This really depends on what you see yourself doing in 5, or 10, years. I don't see your "FIFO" job as having much engineering content, so you'd basically stagnate technically. Moreover, as you've indicated, there's not even much of an opportunity to do any sort of side work, or even network, and one of the reasons for having the high pay is probably that they couldn't even get someone for less pay. The good news is that you'd probably meet your aggressive financial goals, since there's probably not much there to spend your money on. I think you're a bit optimistic vis-a-vis how much money you can save, but that's a matter of discipline and frugality, and YMMV.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

Personally I think you are better starting out in consulting and then going to an owner firm later. It's to easy to get 'comfortable' at an owner firm early in your career and learn some bad work ethic habits that you will be hard to break

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

2
A few comments and few more questions, mainly for you to think about / understand.

That rota looks horrendous.
Q's - On which days does the travel happen? i.e. in your time or the companys time?
How long does it take to travel?
What is your daily work time when on site? - 112 hrs spread over 9 working days is >12hr/day. That is brutal
This is not "....just like office hours, but in the sun and heat of a mine.". If you think a company is going to pay you double but you're doing a 9-5 "office" job, then I think you're severely mistaken - but read the offer carefully and ask questions.
That sort of roto though means you will never be totally in one zone or another.
People I knew who did 4&4 in weeks in remote construction and operating sites in the deserts of N Africa said it used to take them most of the first week off ( and they travelled in their own time) to recalibrate, two and a bit weeks rest and doing things with the family etc, then the last part of the final week getting ready to return.

but 5 DAYS then Two Days off then 4 days on - you will never get into one mode or another IMHO.

Either way, this sort of life suits single men with no outside distractions, so you can make a go of it. It is though addictive in terms of money and unless you have an iron resolve, too easy to still be there 10 years later.

As to the job - I'm surprised this hasn't been explained to you, but sounds to me like the mine runs an internal probably narrow guage railway system and needs constant extensions and new lines plus some maintenance.

How much you do will be dependant on the area you work in, but if something goes wrong, then it will be all hands to the wheel to fix it.

But my guess is that you will be flung straight into it and get huge experience in a challenging environment, both physical and mental.

The thing I tell all newly graduated people is after the first 6 months to a year, forget what your degree was in, forget what you would like to do, you become your experience or need to take a big step backwards. So don't think - I'll do tis for 3-4 years then I can switch to xxx. Very hard to do it as companies are buying experience. If your experience isn't in what they do then they won't offer you the position.

The best advice I was ever given in some hot dusty hell hole of a construction camp many years ago was that the only reason people were there was the three D's
Debt (Or chasing a pot of gold / lifestyle)
Divorce
Drink

And after about 2 years if you didn't have one of those when you arrived then you would....

So ask more and more questions about the mine job - maybe even try and get a tour of duty to see if you like it / could fit into your lifestyle as it could be great. But Women in general don't like men who aren't there with them or recovering from their hard days at the mine, but if you have no one now then it's much better than having to do this later on when it would put a huge strain on a relationship.

Let us know how it goes.


Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

(OP)
Thank you everyone for your response. Your responses helped me see the larger picture of where each path might go, especially the mining job.

To answer some of your questions:

@LittleInch Thank you for bringing forth your experience and thoughts.

The rotation I agree is horrible. I will be travel on my own time, unpaid (so 4am flight Monday to start at 6am sharp; and 7pm flight Friday/Thursday to get home).

From what I have read, it seems 12hrs+ day is the norm, and people argue "there is nothing there to do on site, so an extra hour/ 30minutes is normal". I agree that it will be punishing. I personally think that the lifestyle and work is something I am willing to brave and make some sacrifice for.

I spent some time mulling over it today, and thought that I don't really chase the money or lifestyle at this stage, but the self-affirmation and proud feeling from knowing I am capable of making the big bucks, if I put in the work. It's a proof I need, for a father figure in life.

Both you and@IRstuff touched on the difficulty of switching to another path after 3-4 years (lacking technical expertise), and I have not thought about company buying for experience in hires. You affirmed my concerns that I will take a back step in the future if I take the mining job. Or to be very very lucky not to =)

LittleInch, your 3D makes me think. I really hope it is not like that at the minesite. Internet search gives conflicting ideas, but you reminded me of friends who are in similar roles for the same company, I will check in them asap and ask how they are going. I am looking out for a site visit / tour of duty as you said as well.

-----
@SWComposites FIFO means fly-in fly-out. As minesites are often far away, mining company offers to fly workers there and and fly them back to accommodation after rostered shift. No I have not visit the town I will be working at...only know that It will be far north-west of Australia, in an arid desert-like zone.

I do worry about stagnating my engineering technicality, and I could be too optimistic to think that I can keep up with railway design in the mining job so that I can be transferable to a city/ office consulting job involving rail design/ consulting.

@Geotechguy1 I am curious what are some bad work ethics that you mentioned? I think I have heard the other side of the coin (i.e. connection with client side, knowing what the owner needs) but not the opposite yet.

I am asking for specific responsibilities from the mining job and have a coffee catch up with the lead from the office job tomorrow. I will update us on how it goes...
Ofc, any other perspective are well appreciated!

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

Offshore std is 2wks on /2 weeks off. 1 week is too much lost in travel time. At least until you lose your wife .. then your pickup. That answers your last question. Totally s*cks.

--Einstein gave the same test to students every year. When asked why he would do something like that, "Because the answers had changed."

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

clovis,

This gets worse every time I see it.

A 4 am flight means you either get to bed about 9pm, get up at 3 am absolutely latest, so no party the night before, plus the travel time and a 12 hr shift you will be absolutely toast the first night and not much better the next day. Then rinse and repeat every few days? Can't see anyone surviving that for more than six months myself.

The only way that sort of life looked evenly vaguely doable to me was either 2 /2 or 4/4. I flirted with it a couple of times, but decided I was better off in the office and going home most nights - I still had site visits and once every couple of years a longer term construction tour.

I found in the end three weeks of 6am to 6pm+ was as much as I could do. It's the intense personal issues as well - You are sleeping (maybe not literally), washing, eating, socialising and working with the same people and you simply cannot afford to fall out or carry a grievance with any one as everything is multiplied x 10 in those sorts of environments. They have a tendency to chew up and spit out the unwary and the inflexible. Find out what your accommodation is, what bandwidth you can get on the wifi and what leisure / keep fit there is. Otherwise you can end up putting on 1kg every week as food is generally good and plentiful and it's a key source of pleasure... If the catering goes downhill, people leave pretty rapidly.

But you will earn a lot and you'll be so knackered on your days off you won't be able to spend much money, so the $$ look good.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

Have you taken the job and are now so tired you can't respond further?

You could try a similar question (not identical and link back to this one) in the personal strategies "How to improve myself" forum to get other views.

Mining people do inhabit this site, but maybe not this forum.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

If you want to do engineering be a consultant, if you want to make more money early on after school work for the mine. If you become a consultant you will get to visit the mine and many more for a short stretch of time, but not be there day in and day out doing the same thing.

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

(OP)
Thank you for the patience on my answer. The coffee catch up with my lead went well and he actually suggested against going to the FIFO job (I indirectly mentioned FIFO in our conversation, he picked it up right away).

I actually also started working casually, 2 days now, at the office. Only then I realised how much I can still learn from an office position, and how challenging it can be :D Which is a good thing.

I think I will have my final answer soon, after a couple more days at the office. Again thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experience.

P/s: I might start another post or look for previous threads regarding working as a fresher in consulting.

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

Thank you for getting back to us and telling us of your decision or near decision. If you go FIFO let us know how it goes.

Now you've made it move on. Live life with no regrets - regret is just such a negative thought IMGO. You weighed it all up and made the best decision you could at the time.

Now go after it.

This site is good for knowledge sharing, but do your research beforehand and come with focussed questions with a decent amount of detail.

Good luck.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Choice between graduate rail engineer in mining and geotechnical engineer in office

(OP)
Thank you LittleInch

You hit the nail on the regret part. The allure of the untaken path can distract and make one regrets.

Instead of regret, I will double the effort and focus on my chosen path.

Cheers!

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login



News


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close