Soil Engineering Education and Training Program Information
A soil engineer, also called a geotechnical engineer, is a specific type of civil engineer who investigates and assesses the rocks, soils and minerals at a construction site. The specific degree available in the field is a Master of Science in Geotechnical Engineering.
Master of Science in Geotechnical Engineering
Graduate degree programs in geotechnical engineering are typically offered through the civil engineering departments of 4-year universities. Such programs provide students with a thorough understanding of soil behavior and the effects it can have on civil engineering projects.
Students enrolled in a master's degree program in geotechnical engineering learn how to take soil samples for analysis and evaluation. They then learn how to use samples to determine and solve the practical problems that might emerge from the foundations of a construction site. They study ground stabilization techniques, soil improvement procedures and new technologies in soil engineering.
Students who are interested in enrolling in a master's degree program in geotechnical engineering should have a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, geology or a related field. They should at least have devoted some hours of undergraduate study to design applications and analytical principles.
Graduate programs in geotechnical engineering include advanced courses in linear algebra and engineering, as well as core courses. Some core courses might include the following:
- Soil mechanics
- Properties of soils
- Foundation engineering
- Ground modification
- Soil analysis
- Site and soil improvement
- Advanced rock and soil mechanics
- Earth retaining structures
- Advanced structures
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Geotechnical and soil engineers are specific types of civil engineers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The organization reported that more than 259,000 civil engineers worked in the country in 2009, earning a median annual salary of about $76,000 (www.bls.gov). According to BLS, employment growth for civil engineers should grow by 24 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is much faster than the average predicted employment growth rate for that year span.
Each state provides its own licensure requirements for professional engineers who offer their services to the public. To earn PE licensure, engineers must graduate from an accredited degree program as well as having four years of professional experience. Most states also require aspiring PEs to complete an examination.
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