What is a Geotechnical Engineer?

A Geotechnical Engineer (geotech) is an Engineer Licensed by the State.

Like Structural, Hydraulic, or Transportation Engineering, Geotechnical is a branch of Civil Engineering, with the root word “Civil”–as in–anything to do with the design and construction of mankind’s Civilization and Infrastructure. 

It is the specialized focus involving the interaction of soils with the construction of … virtually anything on earth.  As a matter of fact, every building built on earth is either “in”, “on”, or “of” soil!

There are many pathways to expertise in the profession, including several tiers, graduate levels, and types of examinations.  

At a minimum, in order to become a Licensed Engineer, one must make the decision to study this specialized field during the time spent pursuing a four to five-year Baccalaureate Degree from an accredited school.  Once the engineer graduates, they must then pass a Nationally-managed exam called the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE), now called the “EIT” (Engineering Intern In Training) exam. They must then practice under a Licensed Engineer for a minimum of four years, be certified through a State application process, and then pass another Nationally-managed exam, the Principles of Engineering  Exam (PE), in order to be licensed by the State in which the engineer practices.

Owner and Principal, Stephen Eagar, PE explains in his own words what a “geotech” is, and what they do.

How does a Geotechnical Engineer fit in with the construction process?

The governing principles of the interaction of soils with construction is site-specific, and rooted in the fundamentals of Soil Mechanics–a study of physics that describes the behavior of soils.

In construction, the Geotechnical Engineer is typically involved with the exploration of the soil on a future site, analyzing those soils, and reporting the results and design characteristics to other engineers who then design the project, keeping geotechnical parameters under close consideration.

Check out the videos on this page and http://www.whatisgeotech.org for additional information.

Download our Capabilities Statement with service and experience information.

What services are actually needed?

Geotechs can sometimes speak different languages when first navigating the process of hiring one.

There are three major pieces to know:  

  • Where is your project? 
  • What are you building?
  • What is required at this phase?

Finding out what services are needed is one of the key pieces to understanding the Client, what phase of work they’re in, and of course–what the overall cost should be for the work.

Watch this video for more details about developing your individual scope of work. Development of the scope of work is key–here’s how to speak “geotech” when you call.

Why Geotech?

It has been called a very strange specialty, and it’s true–Structural Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, and even other Civil Engineers poke fun of geotechs.  It’s not “dirt”, it’s “soil”.  

Our Owner and Principal discovered that it was for him when Structural classes didn’t sit well for him, and had a revelation when sitting in a geotech class at Portland State University.

Cultivating Respect, Maintaining Partnerships, Crafting Excellence

Our success is dependent on your success. Let Central Geotech show you how to keep your project moving in the right direction.