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Geotechnical Engineer

Geotechnical engineers assess the soil, rock and groundwater conditions that support man-made structures. They plan and supervise geotechnical and geological data acquisition and analysis, and prepare engineering designs, reports and recommendations.

  • Avg. Salary $93,106.00
  • Avg. Wage $45.07
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Engineer, Professional Engineer

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

39%
39%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Geotechnical Engineer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Geological Engineers
NOC code: 2144
INNOVATIVE

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

OBJECTIVE

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

DIRECTIVE

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

Duties
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Geotechnical engineers work with geologists, other scientists and engineers to solve engineering and environmental problems. They investigate the engineering feasibility of planned projects, and help design cost-effective solutions to problems while maintaining recognized standards. They may be involved in a wide variety of projects:

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

Geotechnical engineers usually specialize in a particular type of work such as land remediation, rock mechanics or groundwater hydrology. They may be generalists within an area or specialize further. In the oil and gas industry, they may work primarily on oil sands projects, Arctic projects, or the hydrogeological or geomechanical aspects of exploration, production or pipeline projects.

In general, geotechnical engineers:

  • conduct site investigations
  • plan and co-ordinate the gathering, analysis and mapping of geotechnical, geological, geophysical or geohydrological data  
  • model analytical data
  • determine the physical and chemical impact of geological formations on construction projects
  • anticipate the impact of harsh climate conditions and natural disasters on foundations
  • develop strategies to control landslides and areas of potential instability
  • design excavations and tunnels for roads, railways, airports, transmission lines and pipelines
  • develop plans for the safe disposal of garbage, sewage and toxic chemicals
  • conduct environmental assessments and co-ordinate the clean-up of contaminated sites
  • prospect for minerals, building material resources and drinking water
  • design major structures in rock such as tunnels, basements and shafts
  • use computers to store and analyze data, and generate computer-aided designs
  • prepare recommendations and reports 
  • supervise the construction of major engineering works that involve excavation or exploration.
Working Conditions
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Geotechnical engineers may spend up to half of their working hours outdoors conducting field investigations or supervising construction. They may work on projects in remote locations. A significant amount of travel may be required.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Geotechnical engineers need the following characteristics:

  • good oral and written communication skills
  • an aptitude for math and science
  • the ability to take a practical and creative approach to their work
  • the ability to visualize three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional drawings
  • analytical skills
  • the ability to multi-task, work with little supervision and accept responsibility for projects
  • the ability to work independently or as part of a team.

They should enjoy analyzing and synthesizing information, performing tasks that require precision, working outdoors and supervising the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 20, 2014

The basic educational requirement for geotechnical engineers is a four year Bachelor's degree with suitable course selections in a related engineering discipline such as civil engineering or chemical engineering.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Grande Prairie Regional College

Mount Royal University

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Engineer

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

Legislation

Under Alberta's Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act, you must be a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a professional engineer. You do not have to be registered 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 requires: (1) 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, (2) a minimum of 3 acceptable references and (3) 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, visit APEGA's website or contact APEGA.

Working in Alberta

Engineers who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered engineers in the 2 jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated engineers, see Professional Engineer Licensing Process on AlbertaCanada.com.

Contact Details

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta
1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T5J 4A2
Phone number: 780-426-3990
Toll-free phone number (within North America): 1-800-661-7020
Fax: 780-426-1877
Email: email@apega.ca
Website: www.apega.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Geotechnical engineers may be employed by or work on a contract basis for:

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

Experienced geotechnical engineers may become technical specialists, set up their own consulting companies, become construction contractors or business engineering analysts, or move into management positions. Working in a multidisciplinary environment may allow geotechnical engineers to develop the expertise required to move into associated areas of engineering, science, sales, marketing or management.

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 in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Geological engineers
NOC code: 2144

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
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $18.00 $44.30 $32.83 $29.81
Overall $21.00 $66.22 $45.07 $36.37
Top $45.19 $90.38 $65.93 $54.98

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.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

39%
39%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

28%
28%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

19%
19%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
  • Natural Resources
    • Environmental Stewardship
    • Primary Resources
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website: www.apega.ca

Engineers Canada website: www.engineerscanada.ca

Geological Association of Canada (GAC) website: www.gac.ca

Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada (PHRC) website: www.petrohrsc.ca

PHRC's Oil and Gas Careers website: www.oilandgascareerinfo.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Apr 09, 2014. 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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