What Is Geotechnical Engineering


Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering that deals with the study of soil, rock, and underground water, and their relation to the design, construction, and operation of engineering projects (Donald P. Coduto Geotechnical Engineering Principles and Practices). Virtually every structure is supported by soil or rock. Those that aren’t either fly, float, or fall over (Richard L. Handy (1985). In this blog, we will be diving deeper into what that means and what the job of a geotechnical engineer entails.


Geotechnical engineering is required in many different types of projects including design and construction of buildings, roadways, bridges, signs, retaining walls, bulkheads, marinas, shoreline restoration, slopes, landfills, embankments, dams, and tunnels as well as geoenvironmental projects which deal with underground environmental problems. Geotechnical engineering plays a critical role in the design, construction, and environmental service industries.

Types of Careers

The geotechnical engineering industry, like many other industries, provides a wide variety of different jobs. One of the jobs in this industry is Geotechnical Instrument Specialists. These specialists install, monitor, and maintain different instrument systems at construction and other project sites. The data these specialists monitor can be used to ensure the safety and compliance of the site facilities as well as all other workers on the project site.

Another one of the many jobs in the geotechnical engineering industry are Geotechnical Laboratory and Field Technicians. These technicians perform soil, rock, and other testing to assess various things such as soil and concrete strength, density, soil permeability and inspections. It is critical that these technicians provide reliable data for the projects that they are working on.

The last role we will be exploring today is the role of geotechnical engineer. Geotechnical engineers can be involved in a wide variety of different projects dependent on the needs of the client. The geotechnical engineer is responsible for assessing the underground conditions and the engineering properties of the various soil layers in order to develop design recommendations for the project’s foundations, roadways, and drainage. This site characterization typically includes development of an exploratory boring program into the ground in order to collect soil and/or rock samples and testing these samples in a laboratory. The soil data collected is then used to develop the engineering analysis for project design purposes.

A Word from Glenn Hohmeier

I have been working in the industry for more than 30 years and have found that no two projects are ever the same and you are always learning new approaches for different conditions. Geotechnical and Environmental Engineering disciplines are very dynamic and provide challenges in the development of project designs. Finding solutions to complex problems within budget constraints is what I enjoy the most.


The geotechnical engineering industry, with its diverse range of opportunities, stands as a dynamic force in shaping our world. It’s fascinating to witness how this field evolves alongside technological advancements and changing landscapes, addressing new challenges with innovative solutions while shaping infrastructure and environmental stewardship for future generations.

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