Engineering Geologist

Dale Glenn

Tell us about your work---what do you do? In general, engineering geologists are involved with the ground portion of construction, they see if site is buildable. They are also involved in ground issues that need to be remediated, or fixed, before construction can start. What skills are needed? You need a degree in geology , then a four year internship under a qualified geologist , along with an 8 hour state exam (to be registered in California), as well as a 4 hour test for certification. As an engineering geologist, you deal with substantial amounts of money and, most importantly, the health and well being of the general public. What was your major? Geology How did you get started in your career? My grandfather was a geologist and he was always dragging me around to mines all over the place. When I was in high school, I didn't care much for geology, but at the college level, I really began to enjoy the earth sciences . What experience do you need in this job? The mandatory internship will give you experience in sub surface exploration, mapping, trenching, learning about construction material, etc. Once you have your degree, the company that hires you will train you in their specific field of geology. Construction background helps, but is not necessary. Describe your "typical" workday: It can involve going straight to a field project to map a site, or spending the day in the office extrapolating data. Sometimes, you may not come to the office all day or all week. In the office, I do a lot of interfacing with engineers , other geologists, clients, and so on. You must have excellent writing skills as well because you have to interpret complicated data and explain that information to people who may not understand all the technical aspects of the data. What is the hardest aspect of your job? It's probably interpreting the field conditions, everything hinges on that. It's impossible to see every aspect of the geology of a certain piece of earth without opening the ground completely. So interpreting the field data is not always accurate. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Definitely seeing the project completed on time and on budget. Also, knowing that you are helping to make a construction site safe for the general public. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? They should enjoy being outside, as well as having strong drawing and drafting skills. Pursue core science , but explore with different firms because there are many different sub fields. You have to have a love of the natural sciences and a natural curiosity. Geology is basically the study of the history of earth, and you have to have the ability to use that data to build safe projects that protect people.
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