How to become a Geological Engineer

Geological engineers identify and try to solve problems involving soil, rock and groundwater, and design structures in and below the ground, using the principles of earth science.

Personal requirements of a Geological Engineer

  • Enjoy technical and engineering work
  • Willing to adhere to safety requirements
  • Able to identify, analyse and solve problems
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Aptitude for computing and design
  • Practical and creative
  • Able to work without supervision
  • Able to accept responsibility
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Enjoy working outdoors, sometimes in remote locations

Education & Training for a Geological Engineer

To become a geological engineer you usually have to complete a degree in engineering with a major in geoscience, geoengineering or geotechnical engineering. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry and physics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Geological Engineer

Geological engineers may perform the following tasks:

  • investigate the engineering feasibility of planned new developments involving soil, rock and groundwater
  • plan and undertake site investigations for proposed major engineering works such as bridges, dams and tunnels
  • design measures to correct land contamination and salination
  • design major structures in rock such as tunnels, basements and shafts
  • perform computer analyses, use computer databases and generate computer-aided designs
  • work out strategies to control landslides and areas of potential instability
  • supervise the construction and performance of major engineering works involving excavation and/or exploration
  • act as consultants or researchers, carrying out studies in any of the above fields of activity
  • act in managerial positions and be responsible for coordination of multidisciplinary study teams, staff recruitment and matters of work organisation.

Working conditions for a Geological Engineer

Outdoor work is an essential aspect of geological engineering investigations. Geological engineers typically spend up to half of their working hours on field investigations and supervising construction of their designs.

Employment Opportunities for a Geological Engineer

Geological engineers are employed by engineering consulting firms; the civil, mining and environmental industries; and federal and state or territory government organisations. They may also work in areas of environmental consultancy and associated rehabilitation works. There are opportunities for promotion within companies and departments, or for self-employment. Geological engineers may work with other professionals, pooling their expertise to solve particular problems. For example, they may work with environmental scientists, geologists and hydrologists on solving land degradation, groundwater and salination problems; with civil engineers in the design and construction of better transportation links; or with mining engineers in designing open-cut and underground mines, and on rehabilitation works on completion of mining. Geological engineers have skills that are readily transferable between employers and may find work interstate or overseas.

Additional Information
Graduates may be eligible for membership of Engineers Australia, the Geological Society of Australia and/or the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. Visit their websites for more details.
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