What is a Soil Engineer?

Civil engineering is a discipline of professional engineering that focuses on the design of the built environment. As we take a deeper look into the design and civil engineering, there are various concentrations associated with this type of profession such as soils engineering. What is a soil engineer? A soil engineer specializes in analyzing the characteristics of soil where it concerns building a structure atop it. This type of work includes understanding the qualities of the soil, such as the composition and drainage. Soil engineers are also called geotechnical engineers in the civil industry. This article will look at the soil engineering profession and explain what they do.

What Do Soil Engineers Do?

Soil engineering includes testing, classifying soils, and making recommendations for the foundation of a structure. Soil engineers are important when it comes to site preparation because they make an evaluation of a building’s ability to settle or shift over time. This is associated with determining the failure point of the structure at a foundation level. The design practice of evaluating this can be called foundation engineering, which is typically done by a soil engineer and structural engineer.

Soil engineers prepare several items to include in a soils report depending on the purpose of the investigation. The report may include an analysis of the weight-bearing capacity of the ground under a building. Also, a soils engineer may go out to the site and complete a boring and pit test to gather soil samples. Usually, back in a lab, the soil engineer will investigate the soil composition and grade of the samples amongst other factors. They will then include that data in the report and make a recommendation for the structure being proposed. Soil engineers will be hired for various types of projects, such as bridges, roads, reservoirs, and levees. Also, they can be hired to retrofit an existing structure that needs to be improved or brought up to present-day code.

How Do You Become a Soils Engineer?

In the state of California, soil engineers need a license. Geotechnical engineering licensing requires additional testing above that of a civil engineer. This license is in addition to the professional engineering license associated with the civil engineering profession. The qualifying factors are the same, however. A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, fundamentals of engineering exam, and work experience under a licensed engineer will assist in a soil engineer’s journey to becoming licensed.

How Much Does a Soil Engineer Cost?

The cost of a soil engineer will be similar to a civil engineer. If the soil engineer is working on on-site preparation and a soils report, it can cost up to $8,000. If a soil engineer and their team have to go to a site and do testing for an extensive project, it can lead to additional costs. For example, a geotechnical survey can cost up to $5,000 depending on the details of the analysis. This can range from looking at the composition, compaction, stabilization, density, groundwater depth, and drainage associated with the site. However, large subdivisions require the entire area to be analyzed and for a detailed report with recommendations to be completed. These reports and surveys will create more work so more money will be required to complete the job.

Types of Tests Soils Engineers Conduct

Soil engineers do tests on the site and in a lab to determine the feasibility of the project. One of those tests is done in the lab after collecting a boring sample onsite. The testing of this sample will look at moisture content, gradation, density, etc. A soil boring lab test and report can cost $800 to $1,400 for the first two bores. Additional bores can be $400 to $800. The bores usually are about fifteen feet in depth, so the soil engineer can investigate the presence of sand or expansive clay in the subsoil. This is done to check for poor conditions since that can lead to having to spend more on-site preparation for the developer.

Soil compaction testing and reports are another activity that soil engineers do. These tests can cost up to $500 to have an onsite investigation done. Some local agencies may even require an onsite inspector to check the density of the soil after compaction takes place. This type of investigation is usually done under foundations and roadways.

Percolation tests range from $150 to $3,000 depending on the site. Single-family home test sites will be on the lower side of the price scale, but areas that are hard to access and that will need additional machinery brought in will be on the higher side. Percolation testing is done to determine the ground’s ability to absorb water. This type of testing is done when a septic system is being proposed, leach field, or drain tile. Percolation tests are also performed for stormwater basin design and for underground stormwater infiltration facilities.

How Do I Find a Soil Engineer Near Me?

If you need a soil engineer for a project you have started, it may be best to use a recommended soil engineer from your architect or civil engineer. Most civil engineers work with sub-consultants like soil engineering firms, and some civil engineering firms may have a soil engineer on their staff. Also, local building departments may have a list of approved sub-consultants, and it will include soil engineers. Ask for this list when your project requires a soils report to be provided. If no one has a recommendation, consider doing a search online for soil engineers near you, but make sure to seek a licensed engineer and get quotes from multiple sources to ensure you are getting a fair price.

How can Design Everest Help?

Design Everest is a one-stop-shop firm that has a team of diverse design professionals that can work on your proposed project. Contact us to get a free quote and consultation today.

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