He began his mining career in 1974 with Consolidation Coal Co. as a United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) laborer, became a foreman and subsequently general superintendent for Southern Ohio Coal Co. and general manager of AEP’s Windsor Coal Co. He later rose to be vice president of operations of AEP’s Appalachian mining operations. Zatezalo also worked in Australia for BHP as a general mine manager. He is a West Virginia University graduate in mining engineering. He also completed a masters of business administration program at Ohio University in 1994.