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Ground Engineering Professionals - register now!

Ivan Hodgson

Ivan Hodgson (Chair, Engineering Group) explains how to become a part of the new UK Register of Ground Engineering Professionals, and why you should.

Geoscientist Online  3 March 2010.  (This article is a longer version of one published in Geoscientist 20.4 April 2010)


The initiative for a UK Register of Ground Engineering Professionals came about 8 years ago from The Ground Forum, who asked the British Geotechnical Association (BGA) to set up the Register. The Geological Society is represented on Ground Forum, and on the Register, by the Engineering Group. The Register, which is being readied for a launch in the spring, will be administered as a Register of the ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers). It is supported by the ICE, the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IoM3) and the Geological Society.

The Drivers

One of the main drivers for the Register was the perceived likelihood that ‘signing off’ of ground engineering designs will become mandatory in Europe. In the UK there is no such requirement, unlike in Hong Kong for example, except in Scotland where foundation designs must be signed by a structural engineer. If someone is to take responsible for these designs then it should be someone of appropriate competence. In the UK the persons with the relevant competences are present within the chartered membership of the ICE, IoM3 and the GS, all of whose membership also contains many whose skills are not in ground engineering. An established Register will equip the UK to meet requirements for signing off of ground engineering designs without having to adopt an external, less appropriate, mechanism.


The Register will be controlled by a Panel of ten drawn from the three supporting organisations, plus the ICE and the Ground Forum. Panel members will serve for a maximum of 3 years. Initially the Society will be represented on the Panel by Ivan Hodgson and Jim Griffiths, the current and immediate past chairs of the Engineering Group.

The Panel will be responsible for establishing a list of assessors and for appointing assessors to each applicant.

The three grades of Registrant are:
  • Professional – which can be conferred at the same time as chartership. Arrangements will be made to appoint chartership scrutineers who are also Register assessors for this purpose so that a single interview can take place.
  • Specialist - requires additional experience beyond Professional level, typically about 8 years or 6 years and an MSc.
  • Adviser – requires additional experience beyond Specialist level, typically about 5 years.

Engineering geologists on the A30 - photo courtesy, Scott Wilson The correlation of these grades with the categories in the SISG documents is intended to encourage stakeholders to specify a grade of registration, which is competence based, rather than a number of years experience.

The following areas of ground engineering expertise are recognised in the Register: coastal/marine, contaminated land and landfill engineering, engineering geology, hydrogeology, foundations and retaining structures, ground investigation, ground treatment, materials, earthworks, mining and quarrying, soil and rock mechanics, slopes stability and underground works. Applicants for the upper levels of the Register will be required to identify specialisation in at least four of these areas.

Registrants will be entitled to describe themselves as UK Registered Ground Engineering Professional, Specialist or Adviser, as appropriate.

Application Process

Applicant will be assessed on the basis of their competence and experience as demonstrated by submission of:
  • recent CPD records
  • a summary CV
  • summary of technical experience, in the form of a personal statement setting out their competence and experience related to the following six attributes:
    • innovation
    • technical solutions
    • integration with other engineering disciplines
    • risk management
    • sustainability
    • management
  • statements from two sponsors.
The applications will be reviewed by two assessors appointed by the Panel according to their professional specialisation. Candidates applying for entry to the Register at the same time as chartership validation will be assessed at their validation interview. Most other candidates will not be interviewed unless the assessors feel that they are borderline for the grade for which they have applied. There will be an appeals procedure available for applicants who are unsuccessful.

The levels of competence set out in the Register require that a registered Ground Engineering Professional should be able to demonstrated ability in respect of the six attributes as applied to their specialisation; a Specialist will similarly be able to manage the application of these attributes and an Advisor will take full responsibility for tasks encompassing those attributes.

Registration will be for a period of five years, following which Registrants will be required to show that they are entitled to remain on the Register. To do this they will generally have to demonstrate continued engagement in ground engineering, continued chartered status and CPD.


There will be a standard application fee of £75 irrespective of grade, except that when applications to join the Register is made at the same time as chartership validation, the fee will be £30. Those who are called for interview because they are considered to be borderline, or choose to appeal, will be subject to an additional fee of £125.

There will be an annual subscription of £12. No fee has yet been set for renewal following the first five years.

The fees have been set on the basis of meeting the cost of administering the Register for the estimated number of members. It is not intended to make a surplus. Costs will be reviewed regularly to this end.

Initial Steps

In order to move the Register more quickly towards a ‘critical mass’ in terms of membership, and to provide sufficient members who can act as assessors, for the first year of operation an accelerated access will be in place for a limited number of senior practitioners and for those who were chartered after 1 January 2009. Details of these processes will be available in the near future.

External Stakeholders

Some key employers of ground engineering services have already been consulted about the scheme and have expressed their support. Others are being approached to ensure that they are informed of the scheme and to enlist their backing.


The formal Register documents are intended to be completed by 29 March 2010, after which publicity information will be released. The Panel will meet on 27 April when they will plan a formal launch. Applicants to join the Register will then be invited.


More Information

Further announcements will be made through Geoscientist, the Society’s Newsletter and on the Engineering Group’s pages of this website.

Ivan Hodgson