Thursday, March 9, 2017

Encompassing engineering, geotechnical work and site investigation, engineering geologists are in demand in the construction, energy and environmental sectors

As an engineering geologist, you are concerned with the detailed technical analysis of earth material and the risk assessment of geological hazards. Your role is to identify and deal with geological factors affecting engineering works.

You'll assess the integrity of soil, rock, groundwater and other natural conditions prior to major construction projects, and advise on procedures required for such developments and the suitability of appropriate construction materials.

You may be involved with analysing sites and designs for environmentally-sensitive developments, such as landfill sites. By monitoring development areas and analysing ground conditions, you ensure that structures can be secure in the short and long term.

The term engineering geologist encompasses a range of roles and can be applied to many different sectors within the industry. It is only after working for a few years, and seeing how each department works, that it may become clear in which area you want to work.

As an engineering geologist, you'll need to:

consult geological maps and aerial photographs to advise on site selection
assist with the design of built structures, using specialised computer software or calculations
collate data and produce reports
oversee the progress of specific contracts
plan detailed field investigations by drilling and analysing samples of deposits/bedrock
supervise site and ground investigations
visit new project sites
advise on and test a range of construction materials, for example sand, gravel, bricks and clay
make recommendations on the proposed use of a site and provide information
advise on problems such as subsidence
manage staff, including other engineering geologists, geotechnical engineers, consultants and contractors
attend professional conferences and represent the company or organisation at other events.
Typical starting salaries range from £18,000 to £25,000.
Salaries at senior level, or with experience can reach £40,000 to £50,000.
Higher pay, reaching up to and in excess of £100,000, is generally attained within the private sector, in the oil and gas industries, with off-shore work and work at high-risk or remote locations.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours
Working hours usually include regular extra hours, but rarely involve working weekends or shifts. Longer working hours are more common within the private sector. Allowances for overseas work are paid, but overtime is commonly unpaid. Career breaks are rare and part-time work is unlikely.

What to expect
During the early stages of your career, you are likely to work mainly on site with some laboratory and office work. This gradually reverses with managerial responsibilities. The balance between office and site also depends on the type of work done by the employing company; working for a site investigation company you're likely to spend more time on site, compared to working for a consultancy.
Physical conditions can be challenging, e.g. working with various pieces of equipment on unfamiliar ground.
You will have a high level of responsibility because professional judgements have serious financial and public safety implications. As a result the job can be very stressful.
There are increasing opportunities to work on a self-employed or freelance basis in the field. Your experience and special expertise could lead to consultancy work.
Jobs are widely available in most parts of the UK, as the majority of consultancies have regional offices. Overall, the South East has the highest number of opportunities.
If you are mobile and prepared to move around to gain promotion, your career may progress more quickly.
Travel within a working day and absence from home overnight are frequent. Overseas work is most likely within petroleum, mining or quarrying industries.