FIFO miners broaden their horizons with study

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An increasing number of Australian FIFO and residential miners are taking up further studies - and with some quite amazing results. Many miners say that studies increase their motivation levels at work and home, and some graduates have even increased their annual income to more than $1m! To tell us more, here's Darren Harlock, a business development manager with Kaplan Australia (part of Kaplan International, one of the world's leading providers of further education).

Q: So, are more miners really taking up further study?

A: We've noticed a real increase in enquiries from the mining industry in recent times, and at varying levels. Our younger prospects will come to us to for advice in planning for career progression and in particular the role education will play to help them meet those goals. Mid-career level will generally come to us improve their qualifications to support the job promotion they are after. And decision makers within the organisations tend to rely on us to provide tailored solutions to meet their needs including technical skills gaps.

Since 2008 we've had several hundred enrolments per year from students who indicated they currently work for mining companies. This is well up on previous figures and the trend looks set to continue.

Q: What are the major areas of interest?

A: We see a common enrolment trend from students who live in mining states like WA and QLD studying (FIN227) Mining Investment Analysis, whether they are in the mining game or not! The most common route for miners in finance tends to be through valuation and analysis subjects such as (FIN113) Techniques in Financial Analysis, (FIN224 ) Applied Valuation, and (FIN230) Mergers and Acquisitions. Outside of that, specialist subjects like (FIN231) Technical Analysis are pretty popular for those interested in stocks also.

Q: What are their major motivations – personally and professionally?

A: There are some excellent career paths into senior analyst positions for miners who have completed our course and have the on-the-ground experience to match. But outside of that also we find the study provides a bit of balance to what can otherwise be a pretty difficult lifestyle for the FIFO crowd.

Q: How does it work?

A: Our courses are 100 per cent online. Students have access to full lectures (audio + video) to download or watch, as well as their subject notes and other materials, so they can study from anywhere in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1> Australia or the world. There are set dates for assessment, but assignments can be submitted online, and exams can be done with a supervisor remotely so it’s all very flexible.

Q: How long do the courses run?

A: We run three 12-week trimesters per year, and students who work full time generally take 1-2 subjects per trimester. As such it will generally take around 1 year for a Graduate Certificate, 2 years for a Graduate Diploma, or 3 years for a full Master of Applied Finance. Some students resolve to just study individual subjects like (FIN113) Techniques in Financial Analysis to fill an information gap, without completing a qualification however and that’s fine too.

Q: What are the prerequisites for study?

A: Basically a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, or a relevant diploma level qualification – however there are alternative entry pathways also (see below).

Q: What are the options if a miner hasn’t finished Year 12?

A: Candidates may qualify for entry through their practical work experience if they can demonstrate they have the capacity to enter studies at this level. Alternatively, our Diploma of Technical Analysis is another option for students in this situation. They will first enrol in FIN231 Technical Analysis and a shorter subject 9063 Specialised Techniques in Technical Analysis. Upon successful completion of these two subjects, they qualify for direct entry into the Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance with an automatic exemption for FIN231, which saves time and money.

Postgraduate studies aren’t easy and require commitment, but having said that we've had great success stories from all levels. Anyone who is motivated and determined to succeed will get there in the end. We are also happy to counsel anyone individually about their options. They can get in touch with us directly at the details below.

Q: What are the side benefits of study?

A: Many of our students have said that the study, while not everyone's definition of 'fun', actually helps to breaks up the cycle of FIFO work quite nicely. Students need to give up the pub scene several nights per week to put some time and effort into their studies, but this in itself is motivation for them. Many have also said that they feel like they're moving forward to improve themselves and their career prospects and are not just 'stuck', working for the paycheck.

Q: What are the career prospects like for graduates?

A: Past research indicates that education levels are a strong factor influencing income levels. However other factors also need to be considered, such as work experience. So those with a combination of practical skills and qualifications are setting themselves up beautifully for career progression. At the top end, we've had alumni from mining backgrounds who entered their studies after a number of years working hands-on with nothing more than school grades - they now take home up to $1 million or more per year, through building on their expertise and this combination of work and study experience.

Q: How do miners find more info?

A: Anyone interested in getting some more info sent out or speaking directly to one of our advisers can contact me at 0431 483 673 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'll be more than happy to answer any queries, big or small.