Geological Engineer

Geologists study the structure, composition and history of the earth's crust. Geological engineers apply their knowledge of geological principles to the planning, designing, construction, operation and safety of civil and structural engineering projects.

Geological engineers examine the types and geological structures of soils at construction sites and ensure that large structures such as high buildings, dams, roads, or new townships are designed to suit the soil conditions or strength of the rock. They ensure the firm and safe construction of the foundations in the most cost-effective way. They also examine the materials used in the construction of roads. Geological engineers work most closely with civil engineers.

Geological engineers conduct studies to analyse geological and geotechnical conditions, and they plan, develop and coordinate programmes of geotechnical, geological, geophysical or geohydrological data acquisition, analysis and mapping to assist in the development of civil engineering, mining, petroleum and waste management projects, or for regional development. They analyse and prepare recommendations and reports for the construction of, or improvements to, the foundations of civil engineering projects, such as rock excavation, pressure grouting, rock slope stabilisation and hydraulic channel erosion control. They conduct theoretical and applied studies of groundwater flow and contamination, and they develop specifications for site selection, treatment and construction.

They also plan, develop, coordinate and conduct theoretical and experimental studies in mining exploration, evaluation and feasibility studies with regard to the mining industry. They conduct surveys and studies of ore deposits, ore reserve calculations and mine design. They design, develop and implement computer applications for geophysics, geochemistry, geology, mapping and related fields, and they supervise technologists, technicians and other engineers and scientists.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

The minimum qualification required for registration (Geology) at the South African Board for Natural Scientists is a BSc (Honours) degree, or a 3-year diploma in Geology at a university of technology. A course in Geology is available at RU, US, UJ, UP, UFH, UFS, NWU, UV; Geological Science at UKZN, UCT and Geoscience at Wits and NMMU.

Geologists cannot register with ECSA but can register with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions.


  • civil engineering companies
  • government departments and municipalities
  • large institutions concerned with civil and structural engineering projects
  • consulting geological companies
  • quantity surveyors
  • self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can start own business as a consultant

Further Information

Geological Society of South Africa
P O Box 61809
Linden, 2107
Tel: (011) 492-3370 Fax: (011) 492-3371

Council for Geoscience
Private Bag x112
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 841-1911 Fax: (012) 841-1221

Getting Started

  • read up as much as possible about this field
  • try to obtain vacation work in a geological surveying or civil engineering company
  • make an appointment to speak to an engineering geologist about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

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