Never thought I’d be into this kind of work, but I love it! Ask me anything, nothing is off limits
Never thought I’d be into this kind of work, but I love it! Ask me anything, nothing is off limits
Comments: 134 • Responses: 56 • Date: 2018-08-04 01:40:38 UTCsource
Elvishgirl29 karma2018-08-04 03:35:42 UTC
Do you say "vroom vroom" behind the wheel often?
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AlaskaJC39 karma2018-08-04 03:38:45 UTC
Oh, daily. The sound of quad-turbochargers is glorious!
Troppin9 karma2018-08-04 08:18:31 UTC
You got a flux capacitor on that baby?
AlaskaJC14 karma2018-08-04 08:19:49 UTC
Oh brah this baby has a flux capacitor for every occasion
portobello_mushroom3 karma2018-08-05 01:24:34 UTC
But can it get to 88 MPH?
AlaskaJC5 karma2018-08-05 04:34:40 UTC
In free fall? You bet
Witty-User_name25 karma2018-08-04 02:34:21 UTC
Where’s the strangest place you’ve taken a dump?
AlaskaJC35 karma2018-08-04 02:40:39 UTC
Probably the one time I had to use the restroom at a Holiday gas station. Absolutely terrible, would not wish on anybody
thebluedoglion14 karma2018-08-04 01:43:57 UTC
How did you end up in this line of work?
What licenses and/or certifications do you need?
What's your goto hangover food?
AlaskaJC45 karma2018-08-04 02:00:26 UTC
I actually just decided I wanted to try it and filled out an application! About a year ago I was in school for a STEM field and had the realization that I was really only in it for the money... not a great reason to go through four years of school. This payed more, only requires me to work 14 days a month, and best of all allowed me to start right away... my family was very skeptical at first but I’m very happy I went for it!
Since we operate 100% on private property, no licenses are needed. We have a program that does all our training on site!
Dude... TACO. BELL.
iklassic6 karma2018-08-04 11:07:49 UTC
are there any physical requirements?
AlaskaJC6 karma2018-08-04 18:43:21 UTC
I believe “officially” you have to be able to lift 25 pounds and be able to climb a ladder and stairs. You have to pass a crazy physical though... I’m not entirely sure if this is the reason but I suspect it’s because our insurance gives us full medical
snapsnaptomtom7 karma2018-08-04 03:20:53 UTC
Do you ever get a chance to get a big truck up to top speed?
AlaskaJC15 karma2018-08-04 03:26:25 UTC
I have, but unfortunately our top speed is governed to 25mph... which feels insanely slow considering how big of a rig you’re in!
FibroManiac7 karma2018-08-04 01:57:39 UTC
I’ve read that self driving trucks are something that open pit and underground mine companies really want. How long do you think it will be before it’s a reality?
I used to run Cat D8s for my dad’s business years ago during summers. It was such a rush as a teenager to wield that kind of power. Can’t imagine your truck. D8 was about 100,000 lbs fully tricked out. How much do one of your trucks weigh?
AlaskaJC13 karma2018-08-04 02:08:37 UTC
Dozers are a blast! I’m admittedly not too far past my “teen years” myself, so I definitely still feel that rush. When (over)loaded they can easily approach a million pounds. This is D11 dozer (about 300k pounds fully outfitted) for size comparison!
Some mines definitely are already utilizing autonomous haul trucks. My mine has terrible comms due to the location and terrain though, so there will have to be major breakthroughs in tech before it comes to us. I have a background in engineering/computer science so if it ever does happen while I’m here, I would be excited to transition into managing an autonomous fleet!
FibroManiac4 karma2018-08-04 02:36:19 UTC
OMG, that picture of the dozer in the bed is awesome. I wondered how one would compare to your truck. Damn, D11 is a monster! I’ve only seen them in pics. East coast, so not much use for one here. D8 with KG blade and ripper tooth was as good as it got for me. Knocking down trees was a blast.
It sounds like you have a good career plan. That’s awesome, especially for someone young. Good for you man. I’ve been in IT for some time now. Miss being outdoors sometimes though. I read about so many miners in Ohio and West Virginia that think all they can do is mine coal and they have no plan B. They’ve been institutionalized by the politicians to think that’s all they know how to do. They deserve better than that.
Best of luck and thanks for AMA.
AlaskaJC5 karma2018-08-04 02:39:49 UTC
I’m actually up in Alaska, so pretty much the other side of the country. Thanks for the kind words!
XanderCrews26 karma2018-08-04 01:42:57 UTC
What CAT model do you drive? Obviously fully loaded your stopping distance is probably 55 miles or so, but would you concern yourself at all with someone cutting in front/nearby? I’m sure 99.9% of your driving is “off-road” but would you be able to feel it if you ran over say a 2500lb vehicle?
AlaskaJC12 karma2018-08-04 01:54:36 UTC
We have a variety of different models, but my personal favorite is the 793F. Carrying a heavy “overloaded” bed, the overall weight can approach a million pounds. The braking system is surprisingly good though! Going at 25mph fully loaded, I can get her stopped in less than 150 feet.
Tragically, collisions with “light vehicles” do occasionally happen (thankfully not on my mine site though). This is the aftermath of a collision with a 7,000 pound F-550
FibroManiac4 karma2018-08-04 02:09:29 UTC
Is there a difference in how much they fill the bed when it is dry out compared to when raining? I imagine that could make quite a difference in weight for the same volume.
AlaskaJC13 karma2018-08-04 02:18:41 UTC
Yeah, the saturation of the material makes a huge difference! There are actually integrated scales built in to every truck... the loader/shovel operator loads each truck in accordance to weight and not appearance. Great question!
Kheled-Zaram2 karma2018-08-05 08:36:27 UTC
Did anyone get hurt?
Seriously these people probably got buried in envelopes.
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-06 13:49:08 UTC
Unfortunately there were multiple fatalities
Hmmturtles4 karma2018-08-04 02:00:08 UTC
Do you feel confident being able to drive pretty much any vehicle?
What is in your opinion the coolest thing you have carried with that?
Also could you host a pool party in the back?
AlaskaJC10 karma2018-08-04 02:13:36 UTC
I do! I’m a pretty big “gearhead” but my private collection of cars/trucks can seem pretty boring after a day of driving those monsters. Probably the coolest thing would be a D11 dozer.
A haul truck pool party would be sick! As an added bonus, the exhaust from the trucks 2,600hp engine is routed through baffles in the bed to keep material from freezing in it during the winter... so in other words, it would even be heated!
Hmmturtles6 karma2018-08-04 02:48:51 UTC
Thats a great picture its like he's just giving the dozer a piggy-back ride and you effectively get a swimming pool sized hot tub. I wish I had better questions cause this is really interesting but im still just in awe of the truck. I wish you luck and safety in your life of many dumps.
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 03:00:53 UTC
Thanks man, I wish you all the best luck as well!
Mantisbog3 karma2018-08-04 02:09:22 UTC
Do you smoke cigarettes?
AlaskaJC8 karma2018-08-04 02:17:05 UTC
I do not... I do enjoy the occasional cigar though. I would say over 70% of my coworkers smoke though
FibroManiac0 karma2018-08-04 02:55:17 UTC
Occasional cigar is cool, but please resist the cigs. I watched my granddad and my dad slowly die of emphysema. Mom showing signs now. It’s a shitty and senseless fucking way to die...and for family to helplessly watch. I’ve been quit for 25 years now. Stay thirsty my friend, but stay off the cigs.
AlaskaJC4 karma2018-08-04 03:02:27 UTC
Damn man, I’m really sorry to hear that. My father is also a smoker... that just adds fuel to my fire to get him to quite! Congrats on staying clean, keep it up
Elbynerual3 karma2018-08-04 04:52:55 UTC
You said that yourself and a few other guys got hired with absolutely no experience, but then answered another question saying that upwards of 100 people apply to every job opening.
I'm extremely interested in doing this job, and I would relocate for it. What are my chances of getting hired?
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 04:54:56 UTC
One of the big factors to me getting hired was the fact that I knew some people who were current employees... sorry if I was kinda vague about that! Referrals or working as a contractor (temp agency) are absolutely the best ways to get in. What region are you currently living in?
Elbynerual1 karma2018-08-04 06:18:02 UTC
Texas. If it helps, I'm a vet.
southernfriedscott4 karma2018-08-04 07:44:37 UTC
Look into the Operator's union, I think all the major unions have a "helmets to hardhats" program.
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 08:09:40 UTC
Great advice! We actually aren’t union, but I know a lot of other mines are
BearBonesBiathlon3 karma2018-08-04 04:58:54 UTC
I kinda want to do this after I’m out of service. How do I apply?
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 05:01:14 UTC
Shoot me a PM! (This goes for anyone interested... I’ll do what I can!)
PotatoWalrus693 karma2018-08-04 02:01:11 UTC
Love the job bro!! Has this been an occupation that you wanted since you were a kid, or one that you happened upon and took a liking to?
AlaskaJC3 karma2018-08-04 02:16:19 UTC
Thanks man! Like a typical lil dude, I loved my Tonka trucks... and I’d probably be lying if I said part of me didn’t dream of operating them. I went to University for a STEM field though, so it definitely wasn’t my first plan! Overall pay, benefits, and time off ultimately won me over though and I don’t see myself switching jobs any time soon
PotatoWalrus692 karma2018-08-04 02:18:29 UTC
That's awesome bro!! I wish you luck with the rest of your career!!
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 02:18:59 UTC
Thanks man, same to you!
rbobby3 karma2018-08-04 02:54:30 UTC
What's the pay like? What sort of mine is it (type of ore)?
AlaskaJC7 karma2018-08-04 03:05:44 UTC
Starting out (including all of our benefits/stock options) it’s pretty reasonable to expect to make somewhere in the low 100k range your first year. We work 14 days a month though and there are a ton of overtime opportunities for those who want them, so I know a few people who made far more than that but just worked a ton!
We mine gold! Silver as a byproduct.
the_kuds4 karma2018-08-04 03:14:49 UTC
Does salary vary by region / site? Or is this pay standard for someone doing your job
AlaskaJC4 karma2018-08-04 03:16:33 UTC
I suspect it would vary a bit! I have a good friend who works at a different mine and he gets paid a good bit more because his is a “camp” and he doesn’t get to go home every night like I do. I believe he’s making 165-190k depending on bonuses but he’s also on his third year.
the_kuds2 karma2018-08-04 03:20:02 UTC
That’s a good chunk of bread to bring home. Is there a shortage of workers in this field? Also what are the typical qualifications for people such as yourself that are accepted for this work?
Do you have any off-site responsibilities that you need to take care of outside of the 14 days a month (paperwork / management tasks or anything)?
AlaskaJC4 karma2018-08-04 03:25:42 UTC
Yeah it’s not bad at all! Especially as someone in their early 20s, it can go a long ways.
I’ve had a fair bit of equipment experience and have worked in multiple industries due to my father’s businesses, but I have coworkers who have literally been hired out of being a Subway sandwich artist. We usually have between 100-250 people apply to each job we open, so the biggest thing is just “knowing somebody” (I just got a buddy hired last week).
Nope, our time off is our time off!
the_kuds3 karma2018-08-04 03:31:09 UTC
Yeah seems like you gotta know somebody for any job really. But makes sense, I was going to say with that salary why aren’t more people going for jobs like this? Feel like there are a lot of people that could do this job with great pay and work life balance but aren’t willing to live in places like Alaska? Thanks for doing this AMA I drive by a mine on my way home to see family in NJ a lot and I’m always interested about what goes on there
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 03:35:33 UTC
Absolutely, thanks for the great comments!
rbobby2 karma2018-08-04 03:54:50 UTC
Have you watched "Gold Rush"? You drive one of giant dump trucks... and that pays that much? Holy cow I would never have guessed it was that lucrative.
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 04:59:11 UTC
I have seen it! Haha I have some friends who own mines that are pretty comparable to the one on the show. Definitely an entirely different experience!
Yeah, I honestly had no idea either. It’s probably the best “work vs. return” job on the planet... once you establish yourself as a good operator you pretty much get 100% placed in the new fancy trucks complete with Bluetooth stereos, headed and cooled seats, and of course air ride seat suspension. Pretty fancy!
rbobby5 karma2018-08-04 07:55:02 UTC
Was it hard to learn how to drive one? I'm not a great car driver (parallel park? fuck that I'll find another spot) so I find those trucks amazing.
AlaskaJC3 karma2018-08-04 08:05:38 UTC
It’s much like driving a regular pickup truck (except when it’s icy out... stuff gets a little slidey if you don’t balance the accelerator/retarder just right)... everything is just scaled up in size. They have automatic transmissions and operate like a traditional car would. In fact, since they don’t ask you to do stuff like parallel parking, I would argue that it’s easier!
APotatoFlewAround_3 karma2018-08-04 18:19:06 UTC
What’s the pay like?
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 19:05:38 UTC
It varies a lot depending on if you want to work OT or not! Starting out your first year (counting benefits/bonuses) you can expect to make around 100k if you don’t work any overtime or cash out your paid time off. We work 14 days a month so we have a lot of time where we can come in extra though, so there are some “newbies” who make substantially more!
Liskarialeman2 karma2018-08-04 16:53:30 UTC
That's really cool ! Do you work on mostly mines, quarries? or construction sites? Or do you move around for a combo of each ? How often do you travel around ? (i just love watching the big trucks go... the tech and size is so neat!)
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 19:01:39 UTC
Thanks man! I work 100% on the same mine. It’s about a 25 minute drive from the house I had before I got hired, so I lucked out pretty good on a pretty reasonable commute. I love the scale of everything too!
ktkat2 karma2018-08-04 17:07:25 UTC
Hi OP! I work at a mine too but I do clerical stuff for the maintenance department. I don't get out to the shop too much so I don't actually know a whole lot about the equipment but I'm learning. What model is that truck? Our CATs are 789D but we run Terex3700 too. Anyway, glad you're into the job! Good luck and be safe!
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 18:52:15 UTC
Thanks!! The one prominently shown is a 793F... it has an entirely new cab and feels much like a “new” car. Very cush ride and heated/cooled seats. We have 793Ds which would be the same gen as the ones you guys have but only larger (same size as 793F... holds about 25% more ore) and finally we have 789s for our little trucks. Good luck and happy mining!
Memz_R_Dreamz2 karma2018-08-06 03:02:23 UTC
How expensive that tire is?
Also I'm curious about it's fuel efficiency (more like fuel in-efficiency)
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-06 13:50:34 UTC
Those tires can be upwards of 200k for a full set... as far as fuel consumption, it’s nothing to burn 1,500 gallons in a calendar day
eddya802 karma2018-08-04 19:27:55 UTC
Ever considered taking that bad boy to pick up a date in?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 19:32:18 UTC
“Have fun in your poverty-stricken Bugatti, as for my date and I... WE will be in this 3 million dollar mega truck.”
froghat2k2 karma2018-08-04 19:44:00 UTC
What kind of CDL do you need? Is it hard to pass the CDL test?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 19:45:44 UTC
I actually have a CDL A from working for my dad... it was really easy! But on the minesite, you don’t actually need a CDL at all due to it being on private property. They give you all your training (and full pay while you’re learning) right on the minesite through our training department
ayomeer_2 karma2018-08-04 13:16:10 UTC
Not saying you're lying but posting a picture of a dump truck is not proof.
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 18:44:32 UTC
Yeah, this is true! I am on a week off right now and can update with a pic of my username when I go back if you’d like😊
CryogenicMouse2 karma2018-08-04 18:49:36 UTC
Have you ever been bitten by a dog?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 18:54:58 UTC
Only if my ex counts
Cod3x172 karma2018-08-04 02:52:17 UTC
What is your favorite baby vegetable?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 03:01:11 UTC
Carrots all the way! Excellent snack
noninflammatoryidiot2 karma2018-08-04 03:03:57 UTC
Where are you from and how old are you?
Mine stuff has always been pretty cool to me im working my way into my operating engineers hall and hopefully can make a career out of it. Doing dirt work and eventually cranes heck maybe even travel and work the pipeline
AlaskaJC3 karma2018-08-04 03:08:08 UTC
It’s funny you mention the pipeline, I’m actually up in Alaska! I can see the pipeline from my back yard (srs). I’m 22 years old.
Stick with it man! It’s a great career path that’s very rewarding in all aspects
noninflammatoryidiot2 karma2018-08-04 03:25:15 UTC
Wow man, you're only 3 years younger than me. Not enough young blood doing this blue collar type work. It's honestly kinda sad but it's nice too because we're in demand. 90% of the workforce is retiring and nobody to take the seats.
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 03:28:04 UTC
Absolutely! It’s comforting knowing that we can get some pretty dream-level jobs whenever we want... in some badass locations too! I’ve been contemplating the idea of Australia for a few years...
noninflammatoryidiot2 karma2018-08-04 03:29:46 UTC
That'd be slick, I know they do work visas and stuff. I always say if. You have some sort of a trade you can make it anywhere! You should do it man while you're young definitely!
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 03:34:52 UTC
Yeah, that’s my line of thinking! I’ve gotten pretty into real estate so unfortunately I am kinda “tied” here already due to rental properties and whatnot. Maybe someday! Thanks for the kind words man
braidan_S2 karma2018-08-04 03:05:07 UTC
How long you been working as an HEO? I too run equipment at a coal mine. I too love it!
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 03:06:30 UTC
That’s awesome man!! I’m about a year and a half in... still a young buck as my coworkers call me! Haha
braidan_S2 karma2018-08-04 03:33:43 UTC
oh nice! I had previous experience but mostly small stuff. Skidders, tractors, etc. Then I started at the mine when I was 20 and have been working there ever since. Just turned 30. You work 12hr shifts also?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 03:38:06 UTC
Yeah, depending on what I am doing! I have kinda been trying to work my way into managerial stuff (the sole reason my college has been of any help to me at all haha) so I will either work an 8 or a 12.5 depending on what type of “work” I’m in. Either way time flies!
braidan_S2 karma2018-08-04 03:44:57 UTC
I end up working about half a month also. Days and nights. Love my time off. Im working on supervision. Started the "in-house" leadership training a couple years ago so now I can fill-in supervise whenever but thats just as needed. Can bid a supervisor position when one opens up but dont know if I'd bid it just yet. Too much fun in the field hahaha
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 04:55:42 UTC
Haha right on man! Sounds like you’ve got a great path chosen... congrats!
Marty1885McFly2 karma2018-08-04 07:14:05 UTC
A job that looks and sounds badass with great pay?! Is there a downfall to a job like this (I.e. health risks or anything) or is it just the perfect job??
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 08:00:01 UTC
I would say the biggest downfall is probably the boredom that a lot of drivers face! Going up-hill a lot of times you’ll be pushing 5-6mph for around 45 minutes and you’ll go an entire shift without interacting with others (except for over the mine radio)... depending on your personality type this can by problematic. I’m relatively introverted though, and am still taking classes at my university so I really enjoy the time I can spend listening to recorded lectures and audiobooks. I see it as getting paid to relax!
Marty1885McFly2 karma2018-08-04 16:57:45 UTC
That honestly doesn’t bother me, as long as I can have music or a podcast playing, does it take a toll on your health at all?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 18:59:27 UTC
Since we do both night and day shifts (7 days and 7 nights a month) I think that that has a bit of an inherent drain on your body. Some people are bothered more than others, but it really doesn’t seem to effect me at all since I naturally stay up crazy late on my days off anyways. Other than that, there’s really nothing... the company does an insanely good job of ensuring everything is safe. We get full vision, dental, and health (company even pays our deductibles/prescriptions) so I might even go as far as to say I’m healthier for working here vs somewhere else due to the free medical attention I get.
Marty1885McFly2 karma2018-08-04 19:21:14 UTC
That sounds awesome, what is the actual job title so I can research this more?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 19:33:25 UTC
Thanks man! Official title would be “Haul Truck Operator” but any kind of mining equipment would be great. Good luck, and safe mining!
Okalt_--2 karma2018-08-05 00:48:23 UTC
If I wear glasses, I can still apply ?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-05 04:35:14 UTC
Absolutely! I actually wear glasses
Hubble-Gum2 karma2018-08-04 07:25:35 UTC
What is the most fun part of operating dump trucks?
AlaskaJC5 karma2018-08-04 08:02:10 UTC
Honestly just the feel/power of the engines. They have 4 turbochargers, can burn over 1,500 gallons of diesel a day, and have 16 cylinders big enough to crawl inside. The sound of the exhaust when you floor it is almost indescribable... insane power!
molter002 karma2018-08-04 08:08:18 UTC
What's the most fun you've had while working?
AlaskaJC5 karma2018-08-04 08:12:08 UTC
Oh man... I’ve had a lot of good times. Highlights are definitely the “radio comedy” that sometimes happens when people get tired!
chicagoconcrete2 karma2018-08-04 13:36:01 UTC
What are you guys mining in Alaska?
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 18:44:52 UTC
Gold! And lots of it
MatthewCashew12 karma2018-08-04 14:26:49 UTC
How do you transport those things?
AlaskaJC2 karma2018-08-04 18:46:05 UTC
Exactly what he said! Just transporting the tires alone requires the local roads to be shut down due to their size. Every piece of our larger equipment is put together on site
hussey842 karma2018-08-04 14:46:29 UTC
How do you deal with the mind numbing boredom?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 18:47:36 UTC
It actually doesn’t bother me at all! I enjoy trying to “better” my times and work on being more efficient. Also, I love audiobooks and music so I spend most of my day listening to those and studying for my classes via recorded lectures
no3nitrate2 karma2018-08-04 15:33:34 UTC
Have you ever farted in the giant dump truck?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 18:48:48 UTC
Nah man they cover that in orientation. If you’re ever a miner you’ll know.
np3est8x2 karma2018-08-04 15:48:43 UTC
What’s the fastest you’ve gone? Ever tore some shit up?
AlaskaJC3 karma2018-08-04 18:54:25 UTC
25mph, which they are limited to with a governor. I’ve thankfully never had an incident, but during winter you spend a LOT of time avoiding sliding
UpperArmories3rdDeep2 karma2018-08-04 15:49:01 UTC
What do you make annually?
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-04 19:02:48 UTC
I do a fair bit of overtime, so counting that and bonuses/benefits I am in the mid-low six figure range
UpperArmories3rdDeep2 karma2018-08-04 22:15:31 UTC
AlaskaJC1 karma2018-08-05 04:34:59 UTC
Yeah it’s not bad at all!
cowsarethugs0 karma2018-08-04 02:53:11 UTC
How many more years do you think your profession has? With automation rapidly taking over jobs such as yours.
AlaskaJC5 karma2018-08-04 03:00:23 UTC
Many mines actually already have autonomous haul trucks! We have a remote D11 dozer that we occasionally use for special projects in high-risk areas, but there are a few factors that prevent automation from taking flight at my mine. We have terrible comms due to the terrain/geographic area. Even traditional CB radios are a challenge to keep functioning properly. Secondly, we see a tremendously long winter season, and the current gen of autonomous trucks cannot safely and effectively “balance” the throttle and brake application needed to go down icy ramps. If I had to guess, I would say we won’t see full automation for at least another 15-20 years. When and if it does happen though, I will welcome it as another challenge. I have a background in engineering/computer sciences and it would be pretty neat managing a fleet of robot trucks. Thanks for the great question!
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