Find answers to the three most commonly asked questions of Geotechnical Engineering by ENGGPRO-What, Why and Where

What is Geotechnical Engineering?

Geotechnical Engineering is the branch of engineering concerned with the analysis, design, and construction of foundations, slopes, retaining structures, embankments, tunnels, levees, wharves, landfills and other systems that are made of or are supported by soil or rock.

From a scientific perspective, Geotechnical Engineering largely involves defining the soil’s strength and deformation properties. This knowledge is applied to the design of foundations, retaining walls, earth dams, clay liners, and geosynthetics for waste containment.

Geo-technology plays a key role in all Civil Engineering projects built on or in the ground, and it is vital for the assessment of slope stability and the risk of natural hazards such as earthquakes, liquefaction, sinkholes, landslides, rockfall, and avalanches.

Important materials in Geo technics- Clay, silt, sand, rock and snow.

Areas of research in the Geotechnical Engineering

The Geotechnical research ranges in nature from an analytical and numerical study of geotechnical problems to constitutive modeling, experimental modeling, and design.

  • Soil stabilization
  • Unsaturated soil mechanics
  • Physicochemical behavior of soils
  • Strength and deformation behavior of soils
  • Soil dynamics & earthquake engineering
  • Rock mechanics
  • Hydrogeology
  • Waste disposal
  • Machine foundations
  • Stone/Sand columns
  • Reinforced earth
  • Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Geo synthetics
  • Environmental Geo techniques
  • Numerical methods in geotechnical engineering

Why Geotechnical Engineering is needed?

All construction takes place in or on the ground, so it is easy to see how geotechnical engineering plays a crucial role in all civil engineering projects. Before any construction work takes place, it is vitally important to do a site investigation. The degree of investigation, impacts of the soil, and the overall need for a subsurface investigation vary greatly depending on the type of project.

Failure to carry site investigation often has had negative and expensive consequences on construction projects.

Geotechnical Engineering is also important in coastal and ocean engineering, concerning building wharves, jetties, marinas and coastal defences, as well as foundation and anchor systems for offshore structures such as oil rig platforms.

Some of the main issues that can be encountered on a site include the following:

• Expansive/collapsible soils
• Shallow ground water
• Fill/contaminated soils
• Shallow/variable bedrock depths
• Soft, compressible soils


Geotechnical Engineering is of equal importance to mining, coastal, drilling and other disciplines as well.

Where this knowledge could be applied?

A Geotechnical engineer’s skills are used for drilling wells, constructing production and storage facilities, transporting petroleum products and examining ground water flow. This career has amazing possibilities, from marine operations, to floating ice platforms in the Arctic, to mining operations.

Geotechnical Engineers can be employed by the following types of organizations:

  • Electrical utility companies
  • Fuel Organisations
  • Engineering consulting firms
  • Mining companies
  • Municipal, regional and federal governments
  • Oil and Gas Exploration,
  • Production companies
  • Transportation Companies
  • Petroleum services companies
  • Public and private research organizations
  • Real estate development companies
  • Colleges and universities
  • Government, state, federal and local Government

What Job Titles are available for Geotechnical Engineer?

  • Scientist
  • Project Coordinator
  • Project Scientist
  • Technical Assistant
  • Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Senior System Executive
  • Geotechnical and Engineering Consultants
  • Specialized Contractors
  • Consultants on Construction projects
  • Instructors/Professors
  • Construction contractors
  • Engineers for public works and public utility improvement

What Skills and Attributes are needed in a Geotechnical Engineer?

  • Critical thinking
  • Methodical, rational, analytical, and logical
  • Intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Sound judgement
  • Excellent communication
  • Practical and technical traits
  • Organization
  • Technologically savvy (CAD software)
  • Aptitude for engineering principles
  • Knowledge of geological compositions and formations
  • Knowledge of construction techniques and materials
  • Environmental concern and passion

What Is the Average Geotechnical Engineer Salary?

The average Geotechnical Engineer’s salary in the United States is $65,453 as of October 30, 2019, but the range typically falls between $59,467 and $69,739. The full range is $46,111 to $89,271 so it is a narrower range than most other applied sciences. Some states pay less than the national average and some pay more. For example, the most lucrative city is San Francisco, which pays 23% more than the national average. New York is a close second paying, on average, 14% more than the national average. Portland pays 10% more. The lowest paying state is Atlanta, which pays around 19% lower than the national average.

The average salary for a Geotechnical Engineer in India is ₹517,831.

Educational level, experience, the magnitude of responsibilities, industry, project, employer, geographic location, and other factors determine the salary of a Geotechnical engineer. Those working for federal, state, and local governments can expect to earn the most compensation and benefits.

What is the workplace of a Geotechnical Engineer like?

Geotechnical engineers spend most of their time working in comfortable office settings. They occasionally visit operation sites and are sometimes exposed to potentially hazardous conditions and inclement weather. Extended visits do occur and on occasion, relocation may be required. Geotechnical engineers can enjoy a varied work environment. Depending on their employment and stage of a project, their physical work can take place in an office, laboratory, construction site, or even a classroom. They can expect to travel, sometimes nationally or internationally, depending on their role within a company or industry.

They may work on embankments and around waterworks such as relief tunnels and floodplains, and may also work on the direction and siting of irrigation for home water supplies and agriculture. They might also monitor drilling. They may be involved in the building of new highways, public buildings, and other civic features not normally using private companies.

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