In today’s turbulent economic playing field where employment options seem scarce and even the well-regarded professions see their fair share of ups and downs, finding a career path that almost certainly grants you a job and a median salary of USD 79,340 a year seems like a small miracle. However, there are no miracles involved here and the world is full of well-paid and interesting professions that have not yet been fully depleted as possible career options. Today, we are going to talk about one of these professions, geotechnical engineering.

What is Geotechnical Engineering?

It seems that the best way to find out an answer to this question is to resort to the website that carries the same name. Namely, according to What is Geotechnical Engineering, this activity is described as “the science that explains mechanics of soil and rock and its application to the development of human kind.”  The website further explains that geotechnical engineering includes the analyses and construction of foundations, slopes, roadways, tunnels, or any other system that is made of or supported by soil or rock. And since “supported by soil or rock” covers almost every structure humanity has ever built, one would assume that geotechnical engineering features a very wide list of possible applications.

The Application of Geotechnical Engineering

And one would certainly be right. Let us take a look at some of the most obvious applications of geotechnical engineering:

  • Hydroelectric dams. If dams were built on the surface, the water would simply erode the soil under destroying the dam in the process. The job of a geotechnical engineer is to examine the soil the dam is to be built upon, determine which loose and cracked rocks are to be removed and provide a solid foundation for further construction.
  • Tunnels. Tunneling is yet another type of construction projects that is commonly associated with geotechnical engineering. The skill and knowledge of geotechnical engineers especially come in the play when assessing the soil for the construction of huge subway systems that have to support entire cities and their traffic patterns.
  • Buildings. Of course, although they pale in comparison to the magnitude of the previous projects, regular buildings also need an assessment of a trained geotechnical engineer. This becomes even more evident when we take into consideration projects like skyscrapers that need very strong foundations in order to support dozens and dozens of soon-to-be-built floors. 

What You Need to Become a Geotechnical Engineer

Although the responsibilities of a geotechnical engineering consultant make this career path seem rather horrifying, in reality, finding a way into this profession is surprisingly streamlined. As a matter of fact, the keys to the kingdom will be most likely handed into your hands as soon as you manage to earn a four-year degree in civil engineering, while the masters in geotechnical engineering almost certainly grants you a job. You will need excellent communication skills, tons of creativity and great knowledge of the soil in order to make any progress in your career, though.

The Challenges of Geotechnical Engineers

If we would have to point out one of the greatest ongoing challenges geotechnical engineers have to face that would be that, as time goes by, the problems they have to tackle become increasingly demanding. For example, the construction of Burj Khalifa in Dubai required a tremendous amount of skill and creativity for designing this building’s foundations. Buildings are growing higher, tunnels are becoming longer, and if geotechnical engineers are being idle and not improving on daily basis, they run a risk of being left behind.

As we can see, geotechnical engineering is full of various challenges, but when you think about it, every profession is. What separates this one from the others are solid earnings, a chance for quick advancement and an opportunity to travel the world. Definitely worth checking out.

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