Also Known As
Assay laboratory (lab) techs Chemical lab techs
Fire assayers Gold assayers
Laboratory techs Mine analysts
Mineral analysts Mineralogy assayers
Precious metal assayers

What are the roles of assayers in Canada?

Assayers test and analyze ores and minerals to determine the composition and value of the samples. Some assayers analyze samples to find specific types of ores or precious metals, such as gold, silver, or platinum. Some assayers work with process materials, analyzing substances such as metals, non-metallic materials, concentrates, and waste and air samples. How good an assayer’s work is can have a large impact on how much money their employer earns.

Assayers are considered geological and mineral techs. Geology includes the study of the origin and evolution of our planet, the structure of the earth’s crust, the history of life, human adaptation to natural disasters, and the chemical and physical properties of minerals, rocks, and fluids.

A relatively new term related to geology is “geoscience.” Geoscience refers to the traditional areas of geology, geophysics, geochemistry, and hydrology. The term geoscience has expanded to include many new areas in the earth sciences, such as environmental geology and geostatistics. For more information about careers in this area, check out Geoscientists Canada and EarthSciencesCanada.

What are the main duties of assayers in Canada?


  • use specialized laboratory equipment and chemical solutions to test ores and minerals
  • separate metals or other components using liquid and dry processes
  • weigh samples to determine the proportion of pure gold, silver, platinum, or other metals
  • refine elements that are present within a sample using various processes


  • select, specify, and perform qualitative and quantitative analysis
  • develop and evaluate analysis methods
  • perform statistical analysis
  • troubleshoot to achieve analytical excellence


  • prepare reports and submit to management
  • liaise with skilled tradespeople, engineers, management, and clients
  • purchase supplies and equipment

What are the desired traits of assayers in Canada?

  • patience
  • commitment and determination
  • ability to work under pressure and organize workload
  • accountability
  • keen observation with an analytical mind
  • an aptitude for scientific inquiry
  • responsibility
  • ability to be systematic, consistent and neat
  • ability to follow methods and procedures, including strict safety protocols
  • ability to build and maintain good interpersonal relationships and work as part of a team
  • excellent written and verbal communications skills
  • ability to share opinions and findings with others, even when they are unfavourable
  • a natural interest in the environment and geology

Where do assayers work?

Assayers typically work in laboratories but may also do fieldwork.The main employers of assayers are mining companies and commercial laboratories. Assayers are also employed by:

  • petroleum companies
  • consulting geology and engineering firms
  • government and university or college laboratories
  • manufacturing, construction, and utility companies

What might the typical work conditions be?

Assayers working in labs must follow strict safety regulations because of hazardous materials they sometimes use. Depending on where they work, they could be exposed to heat, dust, noise, and fumes. In the field, assayers often need to remain standing or crouching for long periods of time. They must also carry, put together, and use equipment; these activities involve light duty lifting and a lot of movement.

What qualifications are Canadian employers looking for?

Employers seek assayers with the minimum of a college diploma with relevant courses such as chemistry, geology, and assaying.

To work as an assayer in British Columbia you must be certified through British Columbia’s Assayers Certification Program. British Columbia is the only mining jurisdiction in Canada where assayers must be certified.

What communication skills do employers expect?

Employers may test language ability because it is important for workers to understand instructions. Employees must be able to share information to complete tasks properly and work safely. Assayers need to have a good grasp of industry terminology and be able to interact in English with their employer, co-workers, and clients.

Below are examples of tasks where assayers use communication skills on the job:

  • They read instructions and warnings on labels of chemicals used for laboratory work.
  • During field research or when performing laboratory tests, they record observations, comments, and notes about locations, unusual findings, sampling protocols, and problems encountered. They use these field or lab notes as reminders when they write reports.
  • They write reports for clients about work completed and make recommendations when necessary. They describe and explain the data contained in the reports, pointing out important information. The reports are written in plain language so they can be understood by managers, clients, and the general public.
  • They write reports about failed metallurgical analyses. They document their research objectives, processes, findings, and conclusions. In these reports they present lab results, root causes of poor quality, and they identify defects and suggest ways to improve.

To read examples of how other Essential Skills are used by assayers and other types of geological techs go to Explore Careers by Essential Skills on the Working in Canada website.

The ability to speak and write in multiple languages can be an advantage in Canada’s multicultural environment.

What is the wage for this occupation?

Wages are affected by the workers’ level of education, job responsibilities and requirements, work conditions, employer, location, and experience. Wages also depend on whether it is a union or non-union environment. The figures provided below reflect a national average for low, median (mid-point), and high hourly wages (before taxes).

National salary data is not available specifically for assayers, but assayers belong to the occupational group of geological and mineral techs. The wage data presented below are for that group.

Low Median High
$14 per hour $21 per hour $38 per hour
$29,120 per year $43,680 per year $79,040 per year

For wage information in specific parts of Canada, go to Explore Careers by Wages on the Working in Canada website.

What opportunities for advancement are available to assayers?

Advancement opportunities for assayers are very good. Most start in an entry-level position, such as a laboratory tech, but with work experience, a good record of performance, on-the-job training, and formal education, they can move into a variety of jobs in mining, metallurgical services, sales, and environmental services. Sample jobs that assayers can progress into include:

  • Senior assayer
  • Chief assayer
  • Production manager
  • Vice-president of operations
  • Quality control and assurance manager
  • Technical support specialist
  • Consultant
  • Environmental audit manager

A senior assayer working in a remote location can earn $75,000 to $85,000/year.  A chief assayer can earn $90,000/year, plus a performance bonus.

Where can I find out more about assayers in Canada?

Links to general career information and job posting resources are provided on the Introductory Page.

MiHR (The Mining Industry Human Resource Council). MiHR provides career information at Explore for More. There is a career profile about an assay lab technician.

WorkBC’s Career Profile for Geological and Mineral Technologists and Technicians (NOC 2211)

British Columbia’s Assayers Certification Program

British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Assayer Training Program

Certified Assayers Foundation of British Columbia

HRSDC’s Essential Skills Profile for Geological and Mineral Technologists and Technicians

Earth Sciences Canada

Geoscientists Canada