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Geotechnician and Geotechnologist
Geotechnicians and geotehcnologists do scientific research on and in the crust of the earth with the objective of locating and extracting natural resources, or of determining subsurface conditions and locating building materials prior to building large civil constructions.

They are initially given a broad and generalized training, but will usually specialize in one of four directions, namely, mining and exploration, geophysics, geohydraulics or engineering geology, and will be involved in the following types of activities:

Mining and exploration geology, where they are usually employed by one of the large mining companies and will either work at a mine or in the field. In the course of mining activities, they will work underground three or four times per week for three-hour shifts, gathering information on newly exposed rock surfaces with the objective of locating ores or predicting hazardous mining conditions.

Exploration geology involves the search for new natural resources such as gemstones, precious minerals, basic metals, fossil fuels (coal and petroleum), ceramic minerals, building material or ground water. These are sophisticated and expensive research projects, where teams of scientists are involved in fieldwork using satellite and aerial photographs, geophysical observations, sampling and analysis of soil, rocks and plants and deep-drilling methods. The end results of these projects are the establishment of new mines, quarries and water resources.

Geophysics is the process where sophisticated instruments are used to evaluate conditions in the earth's subsurface. Geophysics is also used in many other types of geological research such as the location of ores, of groundwater and in the evaluation of bedrock conditions for the design of foundations for large civil constructions. Geophysics involves fieldwork and computer analysis and requires an advanced understanding of Mathematics, Physics and Geology.

Geohydrology involves the analysis of ground-water conditions with the objective of finding new water resources, locating waste-disposal dumps or evaluating groundwater-pollution situations. Geohydrology involves fieldwork, usually incorporating aerial photographs and geophysics, together with computer analysis.

Engineering geology, where two distinct applications are involved. On the one hand,engineering geotechnicians are involved in the establishment of large civil constructions, which includes dams, bridges, tunnels, roads, large buildings and new townships. They must gather information on geological conditions in the subsurface in order to make recommendations for the design of foundations.

On the other hand geotechnicians locate building materials that will be used in large construction projects. They usually work on construction sites where they are involved with surface mapping, drilling projects or geophysical    observations. They are also involved with computer analysis.

Satisfying Aspects
- uncovering usable and viable sites
- working both indoors and outdoors
- variety of work
- travelling

Demanding aspects
- dangers of working underground
- sometimes having to travel to very isolated sites

- enquiring and analytical mind
- interested in geography
- fond of travelling, camping and outdoor life
- observant and practical
- capable of working independently and in isolation
- also able to work in a team
- capable of conceptual, differential and divergent thinking
- good three-dimensional perception

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Geography

Diploma: N.Dip: universites of technology - during this period the students will spend 5 semesters at the university of technology and one semester at an employer, where they undergo in-service training in order to gain practical experience.

- large mining companies
- construction companies
- research institutes
- engineering companies
- government departments, for example, Dept of Water Affairs
- universities and universities of technology
- laboratories
- educational institutions
- self-employment, with enough experience,    can work as a private consultant for mining companies or research institutes

South African Association of Geotechnology
P O Box 56959
Arcadia, 0007