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Is Steel/Iron Ore A Good Career Path?

If you’re considering your career options and wondering if the steel/iron ore industry could be a promising path for you, you’re in the right place. 

Nowadays, career choices seem almost endless. However, job stability and security must align with your personal preferences and interests. If the steel/iron industry interests you, this could be the perfect place to enjoy the best of both worlds. 

In the article below, we’ll provide an overview of the industry, explore some of the best jobs it offers, discuss the skills and qualifications required, and shed light on the market dynamics. We’ll also explore the benefits and challenges of pursuing a career in this field and the educational pathways that can set you on the right track.

Steel is the backbone of many industries, from manufacturing to construction. As such, the demand for the industry has continued to remain high and certainly isn’t slowing down. The steel industry alone is valued at 133 billion dollars. With a career in this sector, you, too, could enjoy a slice of that pie. 

Let’s get started.

Steel/Iron Ore Industry Explained

Is Steel/Iron Ore A Good Career Path?
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As mentioned earlier, the industry is valued at 133 billion dollars. Some of the biggest companies in the industry are:

  • Eagle National Steel
  • Sabre Steel, Inc.
  • Pinnacle Industrial Supply, Inc.
  • Continental Steel & Tube Co.
  • Eastern Steel Corp.
  • A-1 Alloys

Each of the above companies is involved in various business activities. However, the fact remains it is all heavily reliant on steel. So if you’re wondering what the process looks like, it is as follows.

Steel comes from iron ore through a complex process; it offers a material that provides strength and durability. Its use cases exists in buildings, bridges, roads, and other important infrastructure. Not to mention its application to industries such as automobiles, machinery, aeronautical, etc.

Iron ore, on the other hand, serves as the primary source of iron—the raw material for steel production. Mined from the earth’s crust, iron ore undergoes extraction and refinement to produce the iron needed for steelmaking. The steel industry would crumble without a steady supply of high-quality iron ore. 

As you can imagine, the industry requires a whole host of important job functions to allow the industry to operate. However, certain jobs have been lost to automation over the years, but they do not tend to be the best-paying ones, to begin with. Instead, roles that are critical in allowing the industry to be profitable and function as a whole tend to be the best-paid. 

Best-paying jobs in the Steel/Iron industry. 

Is Steel/Iron Ore A Good Career Path?
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Mining Engineers, Including Mining Safety Engineers

Job Description: Responsible for the initial mining of the iron ore. They design and oversee mineral extraction, ensure worker safety, and implement sustainable mining practices.

Average Base Salary: $105,440 Per Year

Salary Range: $52,392 to $161,263

Metals Sales Representative

Job Description: Responsible;e for selling the final metal products to customers. They will have to build relationships through various sales techniques to meet sales targets. This position is well compensated compared to other sales rep roles. 

Average Base Salary: $101,335 Per Year

Salary Range: $44,218 to $162,233

Process Engineer

Job Description: Process engineers work in a range of industries; iron and steel are another. They will design, optimize and manage industrial processes, ensuring an efficient and effective process. They will work closely with plant managers to ensure that business targets can be met. 

Average Base Salary: $100,861 Per Year

Salary Range: $60,688 to $153,305

Metallurgical Engineer

Job Description: Responsible for conducting research, designing processes, and providing technical expertise related to raw materials. They also analyze the properties and performance of metals, investigate manufacturing techniques, and develop methods to enhance material strength, durability, and cost-efficiency.

Average Base Salary: $100,648 Per Year

Salary Range: $59,897 to $157,391


Job Description: Involved in the initial production of the Steel. They are heavily involved in the production processes, including quality control. They may also work with producing new materials through research and analysis. 

Average Base Salary: $100,532 Per Year

Salary Range: $59,883 to $157,537

Structural Steel Engineer

Job Description: Involved in the designing and analysis of steel structures. They will work with architects as well as construction teams to ensure that the final structure is fit for use. They will work through the entire lifecycle of a project, from the initial drawings through to final installations and quality control. 

Average Base Salary: $94,371 Per Year

Salary Range: $60,003 to $131,932

Quality Control Expert (QC Expert)/Quality Control Specialists

Job Description: Requirements for QC are prevalent throughout the industry, from the initial mining through to installation. Quality control inspectors ensure that the product, process, and services meet established quality standards set by regulations. 

Average Annual Salary: $93,575 Per Year

Salary Range: $59,373 to $127,812

Industrial Production Managers

Job Description: Mainly involved in the production of steel products. They will ensure efficient and timely production of goods made in manufacturing plants. 

Average Annual Salary: $85,512 Per Year

Salary Range: $46,205 to $113,422

Iron Work Supervisor

Job Description: Overseeing a team of ironworkers. Ironworkers are responsible for the installation, fabrication, and assembly of iron and steel structures. Supervisors will usually have worked their way up to this role through experience. They will also work with other functions, such as architects, to ensure proper project delivery,

Average Annual Salary: $74,513 Per Year

Salary Range: $46,743 to $106,385

Iron Miner

Job Description: Responsible for mining and quarrying operations. They will usually operate heavy machinery to extract the iron. 

Average Base Salary: $67,343 Per Year

Salary Range: $37,576 to $169,678

Structural Iron and Steel Workers 

Job Description: Structural iron and steel workers are responsible for constructing and installing large steel structures. Think buildings and bridges. 

Average Base Salary: $63,374 Per Year

Salary Range: $36,981 to $102,549

Skills, Experience, and Qualifications:

Is Steel/Iron Ore A Good Career Path?

As you may have noticed from the best-paying jobs in the industry listed above, they can range considerably. As a result, a combination of technical skills, experience, and qualifications may be necessary in order to secure a job.

Technical Skills:

Depending on which aspect of the industry you’d like to work in, there are specific technical skills you’ll need to be aware of. 

A basic understanding of the skills below will help in the mining part of the industry:

  • Mining operations
  • Mining techniques (Blasting, excavation)
  • Equipment (Drilling etc.)
  • Extraction processes (Transportation)
  • Safety protocols.

Similar types of knowledge will be required for engineering/quality control type roles. Whereas, if you’re looking for more of a desk-based role like a sales rep, you’ll need a different set of skills. You’ll need to understand business processes and functions, including marketing, to succeed. 


For certain roles, you’ll definitely need a specific bachelor’s degree, and for some advanced roles, you’ll need a master’s degree. Degrees in mining engineering, metallurgical engineering, materials science, or related fields provide a solid foundation from where you can begin your job search. 

Additionally, there are other industry-specific certifications that you may need, such as in mine safety, metallurgical testing, or quality management systems. 

However, there are definitely roles available where you only need a high school diploma to secure a job. These roles may not be the highest paid, but they allow you to build an experience that can later translate into higher pay. 


As with any industry, professional experience is a must for career advancement. The more experience you have, the higher the salary you can request. However, if you’re new to the industry, entry-level positions and internships provide a great source of practical exposure and skills development. It will also give you a chance to work with experienced professionals on industry projects to further boost your skill set. 

Pros and Cons of Working in the Industry

Now that you’re aware of the best-paying jobs and the skills and qualifications you need, should you even work there? First, let’s take a look at some pros and cons. 


Is Steel/Iron Ore A Good Career Path?
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  • Job security

The iron and steel market is an essential component of the global economy. As a result, the demand will always be there. This means that once you’re in, you can be comfortable knowing that there’ll always be a requirement for your particular skills and knowledge. This offers a significant advantage compared to other industries. 

  • Job Opportunities

As mentioned above, there will always be a demand for workers, so you can always expect job openings within the industry. Additionally, due to some of the cons, many may not even think about working in the industry, which provides a great option for those who are aware of it. 

Some roles in the industry allow you to work your way up from entry-level jobs, which may come with on-the-job training. This makes getting your foot in the door and beginning your career easier.


Is Steel/Iron Ore A Good Career Path?
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  • Location

Some jobs, especially those in the mining industry, may require you to relocate or be away from home. This means that your dreams of living in a big city may have to be cut short. On the other hand, this could also be a pro for some if there are steel mills or mines nearby. 

  • Physical Labor

Some of the roles within the industry may not be suitable for everybody. A physically demanding job can take its toll on the body and comes with many health risks. You would be more prone to life-threatening injuries compared to a desk job due to the nature of the job. Many entry-level workers may have to take on roles that aren’t as well compensated in the hopes of eventually securing one of the highest-paying jobs at a later stage. It’s a sacrifice but could be beneficial. 

  • Long hours

Some roles may feature a long workday. This includes a sales representative role. In addition, there may be additional time you need to factor in, like commuting. This can definitely eat into a work-life balance that you may have planned. 

Bottom Line:

Due to the varied nature of the iron and steel industry, there are many opportunities available, from being involved in the initial extraction of raw materials and supply chain management to the final installation of large structures. If you enjoy those aspects, then working in the industry offers a great career path. 

We hope you enjoyed this article; for more about employment and salaries, be sure to check out the rest of our site.

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