The 2007 Survey Results of U.S. Coal Salaries, Wages, and Benefits by CostMine gives you the information you need to establish if you are getting a fair salary or wage. Here are some of the numbers from the report that struck me.

With 27 coal mines reporting, the average hourly wage for some of the key people at a surface coal mine are as follows: electrician=$25; mechanic=$24; welder=$24; helper=$22;oiler=$24; shovel operator=$25; drill operator=$23; truck driver=$23; and laborer=$21.

At underground coal mines, comparable people earn about a dollar to $2 an hour less. For example the average hourly rate in 2007 for underground coal mines: electrician=$23; mechanic=$23; welder=$22; helper=$21; and laborer=$21. Maybe the average is pulled down by these folk whom you do not find at surface mines: UG driller/shooter=$22; roof bolter=$23; UG loading machine operator=$22. Seems everybody tends to a wage of about $22 an hour.

What does make a difference to your wage is the size of your mine. Folk in small coal mines appear to earn about $2 less and hour than comparable folk in large mines.

Biggest factor is where your mine is. For example, the average electrician at an eastern coal mine earns $22.27; at a central coal mine $23.71; at a southwestern coal mine $24.53; and at a northeastern coal mine $27.52. Similar differences occur for all worker categories; the numbers for laborer are: $19.82, $19.84, $21.54, and $22.98.

Let us now turn to the engineer and his/her salary. At Union coal mines in 2007, the salary range for a mine engineer was $61,200 to $111,200 for an average of$84,600. At Non-Union coal mines the range was $63,500 to $87,400 for an average of $75,900. Those are significant differences!

Surprisingly the average salary of the following people was much the same on Union and Non-union mines: purchasing agent, accounting clerk, administrative assistant, and warehouse clerk. But for the rest the salaried people on Union mine got more than similar folk on Non-union mines.

In the case of salaried folk, it is better to work at an underground mine if you want to earn more. For example, the average general manager of an underground coal mine in 2007 earned $207,200, whereas his counterpart on an surface mine got only $145,200. The underground mine engineer got $84,300 versus the surface mine engineer who got $77,700.

Something funny, however, is going on in the environmental department. The range for the environmental coordinator at underground mines was $55,000 to $77,000 for an average of $66,100. By comparison at surface mines the range was $71,800 to $102,700 for an average of $85,700. Nearly $20,000 a year more. But strangely the average underground mine environmental technician got only $68,400 as compared to the average environmental technician at a surface mine who got $46,800. Maybe there is something in the way they title those environmental folk that confuses these statistics.

While wages increase as you go from the east to the west salaries go down. Here are the numbers for our average mine engineer: eastern coal mine earns $87,400; at a central coal mine $76,700; at a southwestern coal mine $78,400; and at a northeastern coal mine $77,400. Similar trend appear to hold for all categories of salaried people.

Then there are the people at the top. Here are their average salaries—and do not forget they also get big bonuses, options, and stock awards, that in most cases are much more than the measly salary. The Chairman=$648K; CEO=$569K; President=$505K; Vice President=$612K; CFO=$303K; and COO=$329K. At least one CEO got nearly $6.4 million in stock awards in 2007. Roll on field of dreams.