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Top 11 Geotechnical Engineer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top geotechnical engineer certifications and their associated benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for geotechnical engineers to demonstrate their expertise in the field and show that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to work in the job market. Certification can help a geotechnical engineer stand out from other applicants, as it provides evidence of their proficiency in the area and indicates that they have gone the extra mile to obtain specialized qualifications. Certifications can also open up opportunities for advancement or additional training, providing an incentive for employers to hire certified geotechnical engineers. Finally, certifications can provide assurance to employers that a geotechnical engineer is properly qualified and up-to-date on industry standards and best practices.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Geotechnical Engineers and explains how they can help further a geotechnical engineer's career.

What are Geotechnical Engineer Certifications?

Geotechnical engineer certification is a professional credential that demonstrates an individual's competence in the field of geotechnical engineering. This certification is awarded by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to individuals who meet certain qualifications, such as having a degree in geotechnical engineering or related fields and passing an examination. Geotechnical engineers are responsible for analyzing soil and rock conditions to determine how they will interact with structures, foundations, and other built environments.

Having this certification can help a geotechnical engineer establish their credibility and gain more job opportunities. It can also demonstrate expertise in the field, which can lead to higher salaries. Additionally, employers may require candidates for certain positions to have this certification, so having one can be essential to obtaining a job. Furthermore, having this certification can open up access to special resources like ASCE training courses or seminars that might not otherwise be available. Finally, it allows geotechnical engineers to stay current on the latest advancements in their field and remain competitive in the job market.

Pro tip: When considering geotechnical engineer certification, make sure to research the requirements of the certifying organization and determine if you meet the qualifications. Additionally, it is important to understand the process for obtaining certification, such as completing an exam or submitting a portfolio of work. Lastly, make sure to familiarize yourself with the continuing education requirements for maintaining your certification.

Related: What does a Geotechnical Engineer do?

Top 11 Geotechnical Engineer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Geotechnical Engineers today.

1. Certified Geotechnical Engineer (CGE)

Certified Geotechnical Engineer (CGE) is a professional certification program designed to recognize and promote the highest standards of practice in geotechnical engineering. The CGE program is administered by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the highest standards of engineering practice.

To be eligible for the CGE certification, an individual must have at least four years of experience as a licensed professional engineer, with at least two years of that experience in geotechnical engineering. The applicant must also pass an examination developed by ACEC and administered by its partner, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

The cost to apply for the CGE certification varies depending on whether or not you are already an NCEES member. If you are not already a member, you will need to pay a one-time fee of $200 plus any applicable taxes. If you are already an NCEES member, then there is no additional fee required.

It typically takes about three months from when your application is received until you receive your results back from NCEES. Once you have passed the exam, your name will be added to ACEC's list of Certified Geotechnical Engineers and you will receive your certificate in the mail within 6-8 weeks.

2. Professional Engineer (PE)

Professional Engineer (PE) is a professional license that allows an engineer to practice engineering in the United States. It is issued by the state and requires passing a licensing exam as well as meeting certain educational and experience requirements.

It typically takes four to six years of education, work experience, and study to become a Professional Engineer. To obtain the PE license, applicants must first complete a bachelor’s degree in engineering from an accredited university or college. After graduating, they must then gain at least four years of relevant work experience under the supervision of a licensed engineer. Finally, they must take and pass two exams administered by their state’s licensing board: the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

The cost for obtaining a PE license varies depending on your state but typically ranges from $200-$500 for both exams combined. Additionally, some states may require additional fees such as application fees or background checks.

3. Certified Professional in Geotechnical Engineering (CPEGE)

Certified Professional in Geotechnical Engineering (CPEGE) is a certification program offered by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). It is designed to recognize and promote excellence in geotechnical engineering. The CPEGE certification is open to all professional engineers who have at least five years of experience in geotechnical engineering and have demonstrated superior knowledge, skill, and experience in the field.

The CPEGE certification process involves an application, a written examination, and an oral interview. The application requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge of geotechnical engineering principles, practices, and procedures through a series of questions. After submitting the application, applicants must pass the written exam which tests their knowledge of geotechnical engineering topics such as soil mechanics, foundation design, slope stability analysis, etc. Finally, applicants must pass an oral interview with a panel of experts from ASCE’s Geotechnical Engineering Division.

The entire process typically takes about one year to complete. The cost for the application fee is $175 USD and the exam fee is $400 USD.

4. Certified Foundation Engineer (CFE)

Certified Foundation Engineer (CFE) is a certification provided by the International Association of Foundation Drilling (IAFD). It is designed to provide engineers with the knowledge and skills necessary to design, construct, and maintain foundation systems for buildings and other structures. The CFE certification requires passing a comprehensive exam that covers topics such as soil mechanics, geotechnical engineering, foundation design, construction methods, and safety.

To get the CFE certification, you must have a minimum of four years of experience in foundation engineering or related fields. You must also complete an approved training program or coursework in foundation engineering. Once you have met these requirements, you can register for the CFE exam. The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and a practical portion. You must pass both parts to become certified.

The cost of the CFE certification varies depending on your location but typically ranges from $500-$1000 USD. The exam itself may cost around $200-$400 USD depending on where it is taken. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with taking the exam such as registration fees or travel expenses if it is taken at an out-of-town location.

Overall, obtaining the Certified Foundation Engineer (CFE) certification can take several months to complete depending on how quickly you are able to fulfill all of the requirements and take the exam.

5. Certified Earthwork Engineer (CEE)

Certified Earthwork Engineer (CEE) is a professional certification program designed to recognize the knowledge and experience of earthwork engineers. It is an independent, third-party accreditation program that verifies an engineer’s qualifications and expertise in earthwork engineering. The CEE certification is awarded by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

To become certified as a CEE, applicants must have a minimum of five years of experience in earthwork engineering, have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher in civil engineering or related field, and pass the CEE exam. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions on topics such as soil mechanics, geotechnical engineering, construction management, and project management.

The process for obtaining the CEE certification typically takes about three months from start to finish. First, applicants must register with ASCE and pay the required fees. Then they must submit their application materials including transcripts from their college or university and proof of at least five years of relevant work experience. Once approved by ASCE, applicants can then take the CEE exam which is administered online.

The cost for obtaining the CEE certification varies depending on whether you are an ASCE member or non-member. For members, it costs $300 to register for the exam plus $200 for each additional attempt if needed. For non-members, it costs $500 to register for the exam plus $400 for each additional attempt if needed.

6. Certified Soil Mechanics and Foundation Design Engineer (CSMFDE)

Certified Soil Mechanics and Foundation Design Engineer (CSMFDE) is a professional certification program designed to recognize the expertise of engineers in the field of soil mechanics and foundation design. The program is administered by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The CSMFDE certification requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and experience in soil mechanics, geotechnical engineering, and foundation design. To become certified, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as soil properties, slope stability analysis, bearing capacity analysis, pile design, and other related topics. The exam is offered twice per year at various locations throughout the United States.

It typically takes about two years to complete all requirements for the CSMFDE certification. During this time period, applicants must complete at least four courses in soil mechanics and foundation design from an accredited college or university. In addition to coursework, applicants must also have a minimum of three years of professional experience in the field of geotechnical engineering or related disciplines.

The cost for the CSMFDE certification varies depending on which courses are taken and how long it takes to complete them. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $2,000 - $4,000 USD for tuition fees associated with completing all requirements for the certification.

7. Certified Slope Stability Analyst (CSSA)

Certified Slope Stability Analyst (CSSA) is a professional certification offered by the International Society of Slope Stability Professionals (ISSLP). The certification is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a high level of expertise in the field of slope stability.

The CSSA certification requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and experience in slope stability analysis, design and construction. To be eligible for the certification, applicants must possess a minimum of 5 years of experience in the field and must have completed at least two successful projects involving slope stability analysis. They must also pass an exam administered by ISSLP.

The exam consists of two parts: an online written exam that tests theoretical knowledge and an onsite practical test that assesses the applicant’s ability to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios. The written exam is typically taken over a period of two days while the practical test is usually completed within one day.

It typically takes around three months from start to finish to complete the entire certification process. The cost for taking the exams varies depending on whether or not you are a member of ISSLP, but generally ranges from $500-$1000 USD.

8. Certified Ground Improvement Specialist (CGIS)

Certified Ground Improvement Specialist (CGIS) is a professional certification program offered by the International Association of Foundation Drilling (IAFD). The CGIS program provides certification to individuals who demonstrate a high level of knowledge and experience in the field of ground improvement.

The CGIS program consists of three levels: Certified Ground Improvement Technician, Certified Ground Improvement Engineer, and Certified Ground Improvement Professional. Each level requires an individual to complete a set number of hours of training, pass an exam, and have at least two years of relevant work experience.

To become certified at any level, individuals must first submit an application to the IAFD. Once approved, they can then register for the appropriate training course and exam. The cost for each level varies depending on the type of training required.

The CGIS certification is valid for three years from the date it was issued. To maintain their certification, individuals must complete continuing education credits every year or retake the exam every three years.

Overall, becoming a Certified Ground Improvement Specialist requires dedication and commitment but can be very rewarding in terms of career advancement opportunities and increased earning potential.

9. Registered Professional Geotechnical Engineer (RPGE)

A Registered Professional Geotechnical Engineer (RPGE) is a professional engineer who has demonstrated expertise in the field of geotechnical engineering. This type of registration is issued by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). To become an RPGE, an individual must complete a four-year college degree in engineering, pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, and then pass the Principles and Practice of Geotechnical Engineering exam.

It typically takes about two years to become an RPGE after completing all of the required exams and obtaining a state license. The cost to become an RPGE varies from state to state but typically includes fees for the exams, application fees, and licensing fees.

10. American Society of Civil Engineers' Geotechnical Specialty Certification Program

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Geotechnical Specialty Certification Program is a voluntary program that recognizes the professional qualifications and expertise of geotechnical engineers. It is designed to ensure that civil engineers with specialized knowledge in the field of geotechnics have met the highest standards of professional practice and are qualified to practice in this area.

To become certified, applicants must meet certain requirements including: having a minimum of five years of experience as a geotechnical engineer; completing at least four courses related to geotechnics; passing an examination administered by ASCE; and obtaining a letter of recommendation from two ASCE-approved professionals. The certification process typically takes six months to complete.

The cost for the Geotechnical Specialty Certification Program is $400, which includes the application fee, exam fee, and certification fee.

11. International Association of Foundation Drilling's Drilled Shaft Inspector Certification Program

The International Association of Foundation Drilling's (IAFD) Drilled Shaft Inspector Certification Program is a comprehensive certification program designed to provide qualified inspectors with the knowledge and skills necessary to inspect drilled shafts. The program consists of three levels: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3.

Level 1 is an entry-level certification that covers basic concepts such as terminology, inspection methods, and safety procedures. This level takes approximately two days to complete and costs $400 for IAFD members or $450 for non-members.

Level 2 is an intermediate certification that covers more advanced topics such as soil mechanics, construction techniques, and quality control procedures. This level takes approximately four days to complete and costs $800 for IAFD members or $900 for non-members.

Level 3 is an advanced certification that covers specialized topics such as design principles, load testing methods, and project management strategies. This level takes approximately six days to complete and costs $1,200 for IAFD members or $1,350 for non-members.

To get certified in any of the three levels of the program, applicants must meet certain prerequisites including having at least two years of experience in drilled shaft inspection or related fields. Applicants must also pass a written examination at the end of each course in order to receive their certification.

Do You Really Need a Geotechnical Engineer Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on the individual and their professional goals. For some, a geotechnical engineer certificate can provide a significant boost to their career prospects, allowing them to take on more complex projects or gain employment in a specialized field. For others, the cost of obtaining such a certificate may not be worth it if they do not plan on pursuing a career in geotechnical engineering.

The most important thing to consider is what kind of work you want to do in the future. If you plan to specialize in areas of engineering that involve soil and rock mechanics, then having a geotechnical engineer certificate could be extremely beneficial. With this certification, you will have access to advanced knowledge about soil properties and how they affect structures and other built environments. You will also learn about methods used for evaluating potential construction sites and how best to mitigate any risks associated with them. This knowledge could make you an invaluable asset for certain employers.

On the other hand, if your goal is simply to be an all-around engineer who works on various projects related to civil engineering or construction, then getting a geotechnical engineer certificate may not be necessary. In this case, it would likely be more beneficial for you to focus your studies on different aspects of engineering that are more broadly applicable rather than attempting to become an expert in one specific area.

Ultimately, whether or not you need a geotechnical engineer certificate depends on your ambitions and what kind of work you intend to do in the future. If the cost is feasible and it aligns with your professional goals, then it could be worth investing in such certification as it could open up new opportunities for you down the line.

Related: Geotechnical Engineer Resume Examples

FAQs About Geotechnical Engineer Certifications

1. What certifications are available for geotechnical engineers?

Answer: There are several certifications available for geotechnical engineers, including Professional Engineer (PE), Certified Professional Geotechnical Engineer (CPGeo), and Certified Engineering Technologist (CET).

2. How do I become certified as a geotechnical engineer?

Answer: To become certified as a geotechnical engineer, you must meet the requirements of the certifying organization and pass an exam. Requirements typically include a degree in engineering and relevant work experience, as well as passing an exam.

3. How long does it take to get certified as a geotechnical engineer?

Answer: The time frame for becoming certified can vary depending on the certifying organization and your individual qualifications. Generally speaking, it usually takes around six months to one year to complete the process.

4. What is the difference between a PE and CPGeo certification?

Answer: A PE certification is designed for licensed professional engineers who have at least four years of experience in their field; whereas, a CPGeo certification is specifically designed for engineers with expertise in geotechnics or related fields such as soil mechanics or rock mechanics.

5. Do I need to renew my certification periodically?

Answer: Yes, most certifications must be renewed periodically in order to remain valid. The length of time between renewal periods will vary depending on the certification type and issuing organization; however, generally speaking most require renewal every two to five years.