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Geotechnical Engineer

In constructing our civilizations, we build on, with, or from soil, rock, other geo-materials and groundwater. Geotechnical engineers assess and engineer the conditions needed for construction.

  • Avg. Salary $122,937.00
  • Avg. Wage $61.52
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Engineer, Professional Engineer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Geological Engineers (2144) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Geological Engineers (C044) 
  • 2011 NOC: Geological engineers (2144) 
  • 2016 NOC: Geological engineers (2144) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Geotechnical Engineer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Geological Engineers

Interest in synthesizing information to conduct studies of ground-water flow and contamination; to develop guidelines for site selection, treatment and construction; to analyze and prepare recommendations for construction and improvement projects such as rock excavation, pressure grouting and hydraulic-channel erosion control; and to analyze and prepare reports on settlement of buildings, stability of slopes and fills, and probable effects of landslides, and earthquakes to support construction and civil engineering projects


Interest in precision working to design, develop and implement computer applications for geophysics, geochemistry, geology, mapping and related fields, and to plan, develop, co-ordinate and conduct studies in mining exploration, evaluation and feasibility


Interest in supervising technologists, technicians, and other engineers and scientists; and in providing recommendations on the suitability of locations for civil engineers, mining and oil and gas projects

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 31, 2018

Geotechnical engineers work with geologists, other scientists, and engineers to solve engineering and environmental problems. They assess whether planned projects are feasible from an engineering point of view. They also help design cost-effective solutions for projects. They do this while maintaining recognized standards. They may be involved in a wide variety of projects, including:

  • civil engineering projects (such as bridges, dams, reservoirs, power plants, roads, sewers, tunnels, railways, and housing projects)
  • underground mines, open pit mines, and quarries
  • petroleum exploration, production, reservoir analysis, and the geomechanics of subsurface reservoir operations (for conventional petroleum or oil sands)
  • pipeline construction and terrain analysis
  • other projects involving soil, rock, and groundwater (such as forestry operations, waste management and landslide prevention).

Geotechnical engineers often specialize in certain types of work. This can include:

  • foundation engineering
  • permafrost engineering
  • land remediation
  • rock mechanics
  • groundwater hydrology.

They may be generalists within an area or specialize further. For example, in the oil and gas industry, they may work mostly on oil sands projects or Arctic projects. Or they may focus on the hydrogeological or geomechanical aspects of exploration, production, or pipeline projects.

In general, geotechnical engineers:

  • carry out site investigations
  • plan and co-ordinate the gathering, analysis, and mapping of different types of data (geotechnical, geological, geophysical, or geohydrological)
  • model analytical data
  • study the mutual geotechnical (the combined physical, geomechanical, and geo-environmental) interactions of geological formations and construction projects
  • prepare for the effects of harsh climate conditions and natural disasters on foundations
  • assess geohazards and work to prevent risks and remediate consequences (such as developing ways to control landslides and potentially unstable areas)
  • design excavations and tunnels (for roads, railways, airports, transmission lines, and pipelines)
  • develop plans to safely dispose of garbage, sewage, and toxic chemicals
  • conduct environmental assessments and co-ordinate the cleanup of contaminated sites
  • prospect for minerals, building material resources, and drinking water
  • design major structures in rock (such as tunnels, caverns, military bunkers, basements, and shafts)
  • use computers to store and analyze data and create computer-aided designs
  • prepare recommendations and reports
  • supervise the construction of major engineering works that involve excavation, embankments, or exploration.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Geotechnical engineers may spend a substantial part of their working hours outdoors. They carry out field investigations or supervise construction. They may work on projects in remote locations. They may have to travel a lot, especially for projects in remote locations.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Geotechnical engineers need to possess:

  • organizational, analytical, multitasking, and communication (technical and non-technical) skills
  • an aptitude for math and science
  • the ability to take a practical and creative approach to their work
  • the ability to see objects in 3 dimensions from drawings in 2 dimensions
  • the ability to work with little supervision and take charge of projects
  • the ability to work on their own or as part of a team
  • high ethical standards.

They should enjoy:

  • analyzing and synthesizing information
  • performing precision tasks
  • working outdoors
  • supervising the work of others.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

The basic educational requirement for geotechnical engineers is a 4-year bachelor’s degree. The degree must include suitable course selections in a related engineering discipline. This could be civil or geological engineering. A graduate degree in geotechnical engineering, along with several years of practice, will provide confidence in decision making.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Certification is not required if you work under the supervision of a Geotechnical P.Eng. (Geotechnical Professional Engineer). However, it may be an asset when seeking employment.


Professional engineers design, construct, evaluate, advise, monitor and report on the performance of materials, equipment, systems, works, processes and structures.


Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf], you must be a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a Professional Engineer or engage in the practice of engineering. You do not have to register if you work under the direct supervision of a professional engineer and do not call yourself a Professional Engineer or use the word “engineer” in your job title.

What You Need

Registration as a Professional Engineer in Alberta requires successful completion of:

  • A 4-year bachelor’s degree in a recognized engineering program and at least 4 years of acceptable work experience under the supervision of a Professional Engineer, or an equivalent combination of education and experience
  • A minimum of 3 acceptable references
  • Successful completion of an approved examination in law, ethics and professionalism

A new Provisional Member category has been introduced. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, contact APEGA.

Working in Alberta

Engineers who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada are eligible for registration in Alberta if the 2 jurisdictions require similar responsibilities and competencies.

For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? and the APEGA website.

To learn about certification for internationally educated engineers, see Professional Engineer Registration Process.

Contact Details

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA)
1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4A2

Call: 780-426-3990
Toll-free in North America: 1-800-661-7020

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Geotechnical engineers may work for or contract out to:

  • engineering consulting firms
  • oil and gas exploration, production, and transportation companies
  • petroleum services companies
  • electrical utility companies
  • mining companies
  • governments
  • educational and research institutions.

In addition to educational requirements, success in this career requires an adequate level of practical knowledge and good engineering judgment. Engineering judgment generally comes from work experience and mentorship. This is often obtained through co-op, internship, or practicum programs. It may also be obtained through part- or full-time employment. However, landing a job may be hard without related experience.

Some companies provide internship and practicum programs to new graduates. These are also open to international professionals with no North American experience. This builds resumes to enter the job market or obtain P.Eng. certification.

Experienced geotechnical engineers may become:

  • technical specialists
  • consultants at their own firms
  • construction contractors
  • business engineering analysts.

They may also move into management positions. Working in an environment with many different areas of expertise may help geotechnical engineers develop the skills to move into related areas of:

  • engineering
  • science
  • sales
  • marketing

Geotechnical engineers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2144: Geological engineers. In Alberta, 90% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the 2144: Geological engineers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018
Geological engineers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $26.00 $75.91 $39.13 $33.00
Overall $31.50 $101.21 $61.52 $56.84
Top $44.92 $103.04 $88.08 $93.27

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website:

Engineers Canada website:

Geological Association of Canada (GAC) website:

Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) (formerly Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada) website:

PHRC's Oil and Gas Careers website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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