Learn more about an engineering geologist job profile

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 August 2022 | Published 30 November 2021

Updated 30 August 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An engineering geologist uses specialised knowledge of soil and rock formations to help ensure contractors can build structures safely. The expert advice of an engineering geologist is crucial to a project's success, as they help businesses avoid excessive costs by identifying potential risks before work starts. Learning more about the role of an engineering geologist can help you determine whether the role suits your career goals. In this article, we define an engineering geologist job profile, review the steps you can take to become one, discover the salary expectations and identify several career options you can consider in the field.

What is an engineering geologist job profile?

An engineering geologist job profile includes responsibility for ensuring large infrastructure projects, such as building bridges or extracting oil offshore, can adapt to suit their natural environment. You might investigate the geological composition of construction sites, identifying possible hazards and ways to overcome them without compromising safety. You can then draft an overall risk assessment, explaining in detail the measures a firm might implement to limit environmental risk.

The list below details the core aspects of an engineering geologist's job profile:

  • assessing the local geology by taking soil samples and surveying the surface

  • using research findings to assess the risk of natural hazards, such as landslides and flooding

  • assessing the geological stability of the seabed, to reduce the risk of oil pipelines rupturing and harming local wildlife

  • determining which geological hazards are most probable, before requesting funding accordingly

  • making regular site visits during the construction process to ensure your safety stipulations are being implemented

Related: How to perform a risk analysis (with tips)

How to become an engineering geologist

Here's a list of steps that you can take if you are interested in pursuing a career in geological engineering:

1. Understand your goals

You might first consider why you wish to become an engineering geologist and determine your long-term career goals. If you're primarily motivated by earning opportunities, you might consider pursuing higher education to further develop your skills and knowledge. For example, you can consider pursuing professional certifications or a master's degree. Comparatively, if you want to protect the natural environment, you might consider pursuing a career that furthers geological sustainability in the environment, such as reducing air or water pollution.

2. Assess your skills

It's also important to understand your own skills before entering the industry. As an engineering geologist, you may benefit from being attentive to detail, so you can recognise trends within samples before carefully recording them. It's also useful to be an effective communicator, so you can report hazards to colleagues to prevent potential accidents. You can develop these skills in your own time by volunteering or working in another industry.

Related: Transferable skills: definitions and examples

3. Earn a bachelor's degree

Once you understand your own ambitions, you might apply for a bachelor's degree programme in a related subject, such as engineering, geology or geography. You can use these courses to establish a more niche subject knowledge. Given the skills and financial risk associated with the work of an engineering geologist, employers often require candidates to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree for any role. Many universities offer degrees in fields relevant to this industry. During your studies, you may learn about different earth processes, such as rock formation and different ecosystems.

Related: What can you do with a geology degree?

4. Gain professional certifications

After graduating from university, you might consider earning a professional certification. By enrolling in a vocational course, you can gain more specific technical knowledge suited to a particular position. You also show employers you're an ambitious and studious person, willing to work hard to progress your career. Consider pursuing a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course in geology, whereby after finishing your studies, you're qualified to practise as a chartered geologist or scientist. You can often complete these courses on either a part-time or full-time basis, depending on your personal commitments.

5. Enter the job market

After completing your education, revise your CV to demonstrate your new qualifications, skills and experience. It's important that you emphasise your recent education, particularly if you have no prior experience working as an engineering geologist. If you're offered an interview, you may increase your chances of impressing the hiring manager by scanning the job listing and identifying any useful keywords the employer has included. You can then incorporate these keywords into your interview responses to help prove that you're the ideal candidate for the role.

Related: Geologist CV skills (with definition and examples)

6. Develop your skills further

As your career progresses, you might decide to seek a role with more responsibility and better pay. You might supplement your existing certifications by enrolling in more advanced courses. Alternatively, you may return to university to earn a postgraduate degree. It's important to improve and enhance your own skills as you progress in your career, both to increase your general productivity and potentially secure a promotion.

Salary information for engineering geologists

The national average salary for an engineering geologist is £26,235 per year. External factors can also influence income, particularly your responsibilities at work, employer and location. If you oversee a large construction project, you may receive a higher salary than junior staff. This reflects the greater depth of work experience and technical skills associated with this position.

Related: How To Become an Environmental Scientist

What careers can you pursue as an engineering geologist?

The careers you pursue as an engineering geologist can vary based on your work history, personal interests and skills. You might first apply for an entry-level role, such as a geologist. You can use this role to build valuable experience before applying for higher positions with more responsibility. Here's a list of jobs you can consider if you are interested in working as an engineering geologist:

1. Geologist

National average salary: £26,235 per year

Primary duties: Geologists assist senior engineering geologists in planning and conducting risk assessments of future construction sites. They might produce useful legal documents for submission to the government to prove they're acting in accordance with the law. They can also produce regular reports about their team's on-site findings, tracking different soil samples and their test results. If they're a recent graduate, a geologist can enter the industry at this level to gain experience, before advancing to an engineering position later.

2. Water resources engineer

National average salary: £29,119 per year

Primary duties: A water resources engineer specialises in protecting groundwater against pollution and overuse. They often file risk assessments before construction projects to determine whether groundwater levels might pose a threat to a structure's integrity. They can also work with water firms to meet conservation goals, such as cutting water pollution from sewage or agricultural run-off. A water resources engineer works to balance both public and natural issues, preserving water quality without causing shortages for consumers.

3. Environmental engineer

National average salary: £30,376 per year

Primary duties: An environmental engineer is responsible for using their technical knowledge to develop solutions for environmental problems, such as pollution or wastage. They might test soil samples to discover what pollutants are present before writing reports to advise firms on reducing their environmental impact. They also help local governments improve resource management in their jurisdiction, such as by upgrading drainage facilities or reusing brownfield land.

Related: How to become an environmental engineer

4. Environmental consultant

National average salary: £32,790 per year

Primary duties: An environmental consultant is responsible for ensuring an organisation complies with all relevant environmental laws. They might encourage efforts to meet government emission reduction targets, by promoting recycling or de-carbonising company operations. These professionals also audit land before an organisation purchases it, to determine whether it's polluted. They may work directly for a firm or offer their services on a freelance basis.

5. Senior geotechnical engineer

National average salary: £43,897 per year

Primary duties: A senior geotechnical engineer often supervises a team of junior engineers when they're working on geological projects, such as analysing soil samples or designing building foundations. They can also intervene to resolve workplace crises, such as interpersonal disputes. Given their high-ranking status, senior geotechnical engineers often work closely with senior management to win contracts, displaying their technical expertise via presentations and bid reports.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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