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Become A Geotechnical Engineer

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Working As A Geotechnical Engineer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • $89,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Geotechnical Engineer Do

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment. Many civil engineers work in design, construction, research, and education.


Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze long range plans, survey reports, maps, and other data in order to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning the stages of, and risk analysis for, a project
  • Compile and submit permit applications to local, state, and federal agencies, verifying that projects comply with various regulations
  • Perform or oversee soil testing to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project’s economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Perform or oversee surveying operations in order to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or descriptions of property
  • Manage the repair, maintenance, and replacement of public and private infrastructure

Civil engineers inspect projects to insure regulatory compliance. In addition, they are tasked with ensuring that safe work practices are followed at construction sites.

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer, public works director, and city manager. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. Civil engineers work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians.

Civil engineers prepare permit documents for work on projects in renewable energy. They verify that the projects will comply with federal, state, and local requirements. With regard to solar energy, these engineers conduct structural analyses for large-scale photovoltaic projects. They also evaluate the ability of solar array support structures and buildings to tolerate stresses from wind, seismic activity, and other sources. For large-scale wind projects, civil engineers often prepare roadbeds to handle large trucks that haul in the turbines. In addition, they prepare the sites on the shore or offshore to make sure that the foundations for the turbines will safely keep them upright in expected environmental conditions.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Construction engineers manage construction projects, ensuring that they are scheduled and built in accordance with plans and specifications. These engineers typically are responsible for the design and safety of temporary structures used during construction.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). In addition, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as buildings, bridges, or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan, design, operate, and maintain everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ship ports, mass transit systems, and harbors.

The work of civil engineers is closely related to the work of environmental engineers.

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How To Become A Geotechnical Engineer

Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree. They typically need a graduate degree and licensure for promotion to senior positions. Although licensure requirements vary within the United States, civil engineers usually must be licensed in the locations where they provide services directly to the public.


Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, in one of its specialties, or in civil engineering technology. Programs in civil engineering and civil engineering technology include coursework in math, statistics, engineering mechanics and systems, and fluid dynamics, among other courses, depending on the specialty. Courses include a mix of traditional classroom learning, work in laboratories, and fieldwork.

A degree from a program accredited by the ABET is needed in order to earn the professional engineer (PE) license. In many states, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology also will suffice as an academic requirement for obtaining a license.

About 1 in 4 civil engineers has a master’s degree. Further education after the bachelor’s degree, along with the PE license and previous experience, is helpful in getting a job as a manager. For more information on engineering managers, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Civil engineers often balance multiple and frequently conflicting objectives, such as determining the feasibility of plans with regard to financial costs and safety concerns. Urban and regional planners often look to civil engineers for advice on these issues. Civil engineers must be able to make good decisions based on best practices, their own technical knowledge, and their own experience.

Leadership skills. Civil engineers take ultimate responsibility for the projects that they manage or research that they perform. Therefore, they must be able to lead planners, surveyors, construction managers, civil engineering technicians, civil engineering technologists, and others in implementing their project plan.

Math skills. Civil engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Organizational skills. Only licensed civil engineers can sign the design documents for infrastructure projects. This requirement makes it imperative that civil engineers be able to monitor and evaluate the work at the jobsite as a project progresses. That way, they can ensure compliance with the design documents. Civil engineers also often manage several projects at the same time, and thus must be able to balance time needs and to effectively allocate resources.

Problem-solving skills. Civil engineers work at the highest level of the planning, design, construction, and operation of multifaceted projects or research. The many variables involved require that they possess the ability to identify and evaluate complex problems. They must be able to then utilize their skill and training to develop cost-effective, safe, and efficient solutions.

Speaking skills. Civil engineers must present reports and plans to audiences of people with a wide range of backgrounds and technical knowledge. This requires the ability to speak clearly and to converse with people in various settings, and to translate engineering and scientific information into easy to understand concepts.

Writing skills. Civil engineers must be able to communicate with others, such as architects, landscape architects, and urban and regional planners. They also must be able to explain projects to elected officials and citizens. This means that civil engineers must be able to write reports that are clear, concise, and understandable to those with little or no technical or scientific background.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a civil engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, approve design plans, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years working under a licensed engineer
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Each state issues its own licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.


Civil engineers with ample experience may move into senior positions, such as project managers or functional managers of design, construction, operation, or maintenance. However, they would first need to obtain the Professional Engineering (PE) license, because only licensed engineers can assume responsibilities for public projects.

After gaining licensure, a professional engineer may seek credentialing that attests to his or her expertise in a civil engineering specialty. Such a credential may be of help for advancement to senior technical or even managerial positions.

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Geotechnical Engineer Career Paths

Geotechnical Engineer
Project Manager General Manager Owner/Operator
Construction Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Owner
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Owner/Operator
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Staff Engineer Engineering Manager Senior Project Manager
Vice President Of Construction
11 Yearsyrs
Staff Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Engineer Engineering Manager Construction Manager
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Engineering Manager Construction Manager
Capital Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Project Engineering Manager Construction Manager Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer
Senior Project Engineer
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Project Engineer Senior Mechanical Engineer
Principal Mechanical Engineer
14 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Structural Engineer Senior Project Engineer
Project Lead Engineer
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Structural Engineer Senior Project Engineer Lead Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Structural Engineer Lead Engineer
Senior Engineering Technician
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Structural Engineer
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Civil Engineer Principal Engineer Lead Systems Engineer
Lead Engineer And Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Civil Engineer
Project Management Engineer
6 Yearsyrs
Principal Engineer Research And Development Manager Section Manager
Manager Of Engineering Department
7 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Manager Compliance Manager Environmental Compliance Manager
Environmental Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Civil Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Geotechnical Engineer?

Geotechnical Engineer Demographics












Hispanic or Latino


Black or African American



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Foreign Languages Spoken


































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Geotechnical Engineer Education


University of Texas at Arlington


University of California - Berkeley


Georgia Institute of Technology -


University of Texas at Austin


Missouri University of Science and Technology


Texas A&M University


University of Florida


University of Colorado at Boulder


Iowa State University


Colorado School of Mines


University of Maryland - College Park


New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology


Florida State University


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


University of Nevada - Reno


Mississippi State University


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


University of Delaware


Ohio University -


University of South Florida

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Civil Engineering






Geological Engineering




Mining Engineering


Project Management


Environmental Science


Environmental Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Public Administration


Construction Management








Civil Engineering Technologies




Electrical Engineering


Construction Engineering


Computer Science

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Best Paying Company
BP America
Highest Paying City
Anchorage, AK
Highest Paying State
Avg Experience Level
3.1 years
How much does a Geotechnical Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Geotechnical Engineer in the United States is $89,383 per year or $43 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $53,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $148,000.

Real Geotechnical Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Geotechnical Engineer BP America Inc. Houston, TX Sep 01, 2015 $180,800
Associate/Senior Geotechnical Engineer OVE ARUP & Partners PC New York, NY May 11, 2015 $144,100
Geotechnical Engineer VI Hardesty & Hanover LLC Trenton, NJ Jun 25, 2015 $114,000
SR. Geotechnical Engineer Golder Associates Inc. Walnut Creek, CA Aug 24, 2015 $110,000 -
Geotechnical Engineer 4 Ch2M Hill, Inc. Chantilly, VA Aug 28, 2015 $103,522
Geotechnical Engineer CB&I Environtmental & Infrastructure, Inc. Baton Rouge, LA May 26, 2015 $101,121 -
Geotechnical Engineer V Hardesty & Hanover LLC Trenton, NJ Aug 13, 2015 $101,109
Geotechnical Engineer Stantec Consulting Services Inc. Rocklin, CA Jan 11, 2015 $97,864 -
Senior 2 Geotechnical Engineer AMEC Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Apr 01, 2016 $97,000
Senior 2 Geotechnical Engineer AMEC Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Jun 17, 2016 $97,000
Geotechnical Engineer Langan ENGG, ENV, Surveying & Landscape Archit DPC New York, NY Dec 24, 2015 $95,950
Geotechnical Engineer URS Corporation Reno, NV Aug 23, 2016 $95,534
Geotechnical Engineer 4 Ch2M Hill, Inc. Herndon, VA May 15, 2015 $94,552
Geotechnical Engineer TGH (Us), Inc. Houston, TX Jun 09, 2016 $79,744
Geotechnical Engineer II Barrick Cortez Inc. Crescent Valley, NV Aug 31, 2016 $79,630
Geotechnical Engineer II Freeport-McMoran Safford Inc. Safford, AZ Jan 04, 2016 $79,500
Geotechnical Engineer Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. New York, NY Apr 15, 2015 $79,410
Civil Geotechnical Engineer URS Corporation Baton Rouge, LA Aug 30, 2015 $78,763
Geotechnical Engineer WS Atkins Inc. Houston, TX Nov 21, 2015 $78,500 -
Geotechnical Engineer GCME, Inc. Riviera Beach, FL Jan 05, 2016 $67,000
Geotechnical Engineer 1 Ch2M Hill, Inc. Santa Ana, CA Sep 10, 2015 $67,000
Engineer-Geotechnical Kennecott Utah Copper, LLC UT Oct 30, 2015 $66,997 -
Geotechnical Engineer Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. Washington, DC May 30, 2016 $66,955
Geotechnical Engineer Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. Lawrenceville, NJ Aug 18, 2015 $66,747
Geotechnical Engineer Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. Lawrenceville, NJ Aug 24, 2015 $66,747
Geotechnical Engineer Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. Lawrenceville, NJ Aug 17, 2015 $66,747
Staff Geotechnical Engineer Terracon Consultants, Inc. Conroe, TX Aug 31, 2016 $66,477

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Top Skills for A Geotechnical Engineer

  1. Laboratory Test Results
  2. Geotechnical Investigations
  3. Subsurface Investigations
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Characterized the index and shear strength properties of the fly ash materials using field data supplemented with laboratory test results.
  • Planned and managed geotechnical investigations and remedial construction measures in the operation and maintenance of the dam safety program.
  • Performed multiple subsurface investigations, on-site soils engineering services and deep foundation inspections for project managers and principals.
  • Slope stability analyses and Coordination of technical reports.
  • Performed site reconnaissance and slope stability analyses to back-calculate material strengths and design mitigation of incipient rock slide feature.

What is it like to work as a Geotechnical Engineer


Suitability of construction materials

September 28, 2019 on Zippia

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Top 10 Best States for Geotechnical Engineers

  1. Alaska
  2. Virginia
  3. Nevada
  4. Texas
  5. Louisiana
  6. Washington
  7. Connecticut
  8. Colorado
  9. New York
  10. District of Columbia
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