Engineering geologists are concerned with the detailed technical analysis of earth material and the risk assessment of geological hazards. Their role is to ensure that geological factors affecting engineering works are identified and dealt with. They assess the integrity of soil, rock, groundwater and other natural conditions prior to major construction projects. They advise on procedures required for such developments and the suitability of appropriate construction materials.

Engineering geologists are also involved with analyzing sites and designs for environmentally sensitive developments, such as landfill sites. By monitoring development areas and analyzing ground conditions, they ensure that structures can be secure in the short and long term.

The term engineering geologist encompasses a range of roles and can be applied to many different sectors within the industry. It is only after working for a few years, and seeing how each department works, that engineering geologists are clear about which area they want to work in.


Typical Work Activities

  • Consulting geological maps and aerial photographs to advise on site selection.
  • Assisting with the design of built structures, using specialised computer software or calculations.
  • Collating data and producing reports.
  • Overseeing the progress of specific contracts.
  • Planning detailed field investigations by drilling and analysing samples of deposits/bedrock.
  • Supervising site and ground investigations.
  • Making visits to new project sites.
  • Advising on and testing a range of construction materials, for example sand, gravel, bricks and clay.
  • Making recommendations on the proposed use of a site and providing information.
  • Advising on problems such as subsidence.
  • Managing staff, including other engineering geologists, geotechnical engineers, consultants and contractors.
  • Attending professional conferences and representing the company or organisation at other events.


Technical Skills

  • Team-working ability.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Report-writing ability.
  • Presentation skills.
  • A flexible approach to work.
  • Willingness to accept responsibility.

Physical mobility, a good standard of fitness and a driving licence are also required.


Career Development

There are two main routes for career progression and both depend on technical ability, personal qualities and breadth of experience. An engineering geologist may:

  • Continue working in a technical role as an engineering geologist and then progress to senior engineering geologist.
  • Move into an engineering management role, working with or managing other professionals.

Gaining chartered status is an invaluable part of career development and can improve your chances of achieving senior posts, such as in project management and team leading. Keeping up to date with technical, legislative and statutory changes is also a key part of successful career development. It is important to maintain professional knowledge of relevant industry software and technology as there are fast-moving changes in these areas. Health and safety is also vitally important in the industry.



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