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How do I get Started in Geotechnical Work?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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The primary purpose of geotechnical work is to obtain information about the activity of the earth's plates just below the surface. This field of study is an integral part of long-term planning for a wide range of industries, ranging from mining to civil engineering projects. Geotechnical work requires a combination of post-secondary education, work experience, and computer skills. Travel is a large part of this job, especially at the junior levels, as candidates may be posted to remote locations to complete data collection programs.

Post-secondary training is an absolute requirement for all geotechnical positions. The level of instruction on the earth's plates and planetary structure provided in high school is simply not detailed enough. There are two levels of training for this field: university or college. University programs are ideal for people who aspire to management or professional positions. College programs are ideal for people who find satisfaction in completing a technical project.

Most people get started in geotechnical work through a job placement arranged by the post-secondary institution. These placements are typically four to five months in length and provide students with a range of experiences designed to provide skills to make them job ready. Some universities offer a professional year program. During this year, students work at a job placement while maintaining their student status. The length of the placement allows the student to gain more in-depth work experience than the traditionally shorter term.

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Computer skills in geographical information systems, statistical programs, data analysis programs, and related tools are essential in this role. All these programs are quite complex, designed to meet very specific needs unique to geotechnical issues. As a result, time and dedication is required to learn how to use them. Students are typically able to access these programs at school. Take the time to learn how to use this type of software. The underlying structure and purposes will remain static, regardless of the different suppliers or user interfaces.

The geotechnical community is very small, and reputation is important. Talk with your professors, work on research projects, and volunteer on projects where possible. Build a reputation as a team player who is consistent and provides quality contributions. Combining experience with important contacts and references is a great way to get started in geotechnical work.

During the job interview process, take the time to prepare for the interview. Think of a list of standard interview questions and prepare your answers in advance. Some employers have multiple interviews, while others may ask you to complete a short test of your computer or analysis skills. Geotechnical work is very detail oriented, and precision is best measured through testing of candidates as part of the job process.

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