What's Involved

As a key member of a multi-disciplinary engineering team, your decisions have an impact on the entire project team's actions and your responsibilities as a Geotechnical Engineer are therefore varied. 

Depending on the particular task at hand your duties may be carried out on-site, offshore or in an office. Geotechnical Engineers work in areas such as site investigation, foundation engineering and tunnelling. Activities may include gathering data, using specialist computer software, creating analytical two and three-dimensional models, making complex calculations in planning or assessing structures. 

Geotechnical engineers analyse data to provide highly accurate calculations. Working in a team alongside Geological Engineers and Hydrogeologists, they focus on providing information for, and solutions to, a specific client's project.

Skills Required

Excellent analytical and interpretation skills are essential to the role as you'll be dealing with a lot of data and information. As such, it's likely that you will enjoy maths and related subjects. You will need to have a very good eye for detail, as your ability to make accurate calculations and drawings will be crucial to the success of the projects that you are working on. 

As you'll be working with a team of other people, you will need to have good interpersonal and communication skills. You will be managing a number of tasks at the same time, so you will need good time management and organisational skills.

Qualifications Required

There are very specific qualifications that you would need to take to become a geotechnical engineer, and there are a limited number of UK universities at which to study. You would need to have good GCSE and A Level grades in order to go on to study for a degree in civil engineering, geology, physics or mathematics with a specialism in one of 10 subjects linked to geotechnical engineering. 

You might go on to study for a Masters Degree at one of 4 UK universities, and become a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

Salary Ranges

Starting salaries for a newly qualified geotechnical engineer typically range from £25,000 to £35,000 per annum. Salaries for experienced and further qualified engineers range from £35,000 to £100,000 annually. 

Salaries may be supplemented by offshore bonuses, project bonuses and benefits such as a car allowance and pension fund contributions, depending on the company and project. (This information is intended as a guide to average salaries only.)

Progression Routes

It is possible for a geotechnical engineer to move into more specialist areas of geology, such as a Hydrographic Surveyor or a Structural Geologist. People from the profession also move into academic work as lecturers or professors at universities. 

It's also possible that you could set up your own business to provide services direct to customers or through other companies in the industry.