Geotechnical Engineer

Analyze soil and rock conditions underneath proposed construction sites.

Quick Stats

Very Good

Salary Range
$51,000 – $119,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Geotechnical Engineers do?

Rock, soil, minerals, oil deposits, and other materials can all pop up from beneath the earth’s crust, and wreak havoc on the buildings and structures that sit above them. A Geotechnical Engineer’s job is to determine what exactly lies beneath a proposed construction site. This allows Contractors to figure out how to amend the site before building on it, or how to construct the base of the building, taking into account what lies beneath.

During a typical day as a Geotechnical Engineer, you walk through the proposed construction site and take soil samples. You may use heavy equipment to punch holes in the earth for these samples. Then you take the samples back to your laboratory for analysis.

You consult geological maps in your office and online to get more information about the area. Additionally, you use computer drafting programs to make drawings about what you’ve found.

You present your findings to Architects, Project Managers, and site owners. That means as a Geotechnical Engineer, you must have the ability to describe your work to people who aren’t soil experts themselves. You also provide information about what it will cost to make the improvements you suggest. You may be the bearer of bad news if the cost of amendments is very high.

If the construction goes forward, you produce drawings and documents that Contractors can follow. You may also have to go back to the construction site, and make sure that people are following your instructions as you’ve written them.

Should I be a Geotechnical Engineer?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.

  • Also known as: Topographical Engineer

    How to become a Geotechnical Engineer

    Most Geotechnical Engineers have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaa9dh&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%2886%25%29|master%27s+%285%25%29|doctorate+%2810%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,86
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