Geotechnical Engineer Application

California grants the authority to use the title "Geotechnical Engineer" to licensed Civil Engineers who meet all licensure requirements including passing the required exam.

The following instructions summarize the requirements for licensure as a Geotechnical Engineer, but they are not intended to apply to every situation.  The applicant is responsible for complying with the current requirements of the Professional Engineers Act and the Board Rules and Regulations.  If conflicts arise, the Professional Engineers Act will take precedence.

Neither U.S. Citizenship nor California residency is required for licensure; however, disclosure of the applicants Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is mandatory. An application will not be processed without it. Additional information is located on the Information Collection, Access, and Disclosure page.

Geotechnical Engineer applicants cannot submit their application for licensure until they have confirmed that they meet the qualifying experience requirements

An application for licensure must be submitted using BPELSG Connect.  For additional information view the Geotechnical Engineer Application Instructions.

The Geotechnical Engineer exam is administered once a year during a two-week window.  Check the Exam Schedule for the exam window dates.  Applications are accepted on a continuous filing basis.  There is no final filing date; however, a complete application that is submitted less than 150 days prior to the first date of the exam window will not be considered for that exam window; it will be considered for the exam window of the next year.  A complete Geotechnical Engineer application is defined as an application that includes a minimum of four (4) Work Experience Engagements/References with a response on Part B from each professional reference, and transcripts, if claiming educational credit (applicants may receive one (1) year of qualifying experience credit for postgraduate degree(s) from a Board-approved school of engineering with major studies in geotechnical engineering, if the degree was not used for experience credit to obtain their Civil Engineer license).  Applicants are encouraged to submit their application well in advance of the 150 days in order to allow sufficient time for each professional reference to complete Part B of the Work Experience Engagements/References, submit transcripts, if claiming educational credit, and resolve any deficiencies that may be issued during the review process.

Once an application is submitted through BPELSG Connect, the applicant will be able to log in to their profile to monitor the status of the application review and address any deficiencies.

Do not contact the Board for status updates; applicants must log in to their BPELSG Connect profile and refer to their dashboard for status updates. View the Application Status Definitions for detailed information.

Once an application is exam eligible an applicant will need to log in to BPELSG Connect to pay for and request to take the Geotechnical Engineer exam.  If an applicant has not scheduled and paid their exam fee by September 2nd, they will be required to take the exam in a subsequent exam window.

After payment, the applicant will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) notice via email with instructions on how and when to schedule their exam with Prometric.  An applicant will not be able to schedule their exam with Prometric until 120 days before the start of the exam window.  Contact the Exam Unit at (916) 999-3644 or for questions about scheduling the exam or if an ATT was not received after payment was made.

Each applicant for authority to use the title "Geotechnical Engineer" must:

  • Hold an unexpired, valid California Civil Engineer license.
  • Satisfy the work experience requirements in accordance with Title 16, California Code of Regulations sections 426.50 and 426.51
  • Pass the Geotechnical Engineer exam after application approval.
  • Supply the Board with a full set of fingerprints upon submittal of an application for licensure/certification.  If a Geotechnical Engineer applicant has submitted fingerprints with a previous application to the Board, resubmittal with a subsequent application is required if it has been 24 months or more since the last submittal of fingerprints. Please view the Fingerprinting FAQs for detailed information.
  • Pay the required fees.

It is the applicant's responsibility to submit a complete application in BPELSG Connect. A partial application will not be considered for evaluation.  Applicants should review the Application Instructions to ensure they are submitting all required documentation along with their application.

The Board has the authority to seek additional information pertinent to the education and experience of the applicant as may be required to verify the applicant’s qualifications. If an applicant fails to provide additional information or references within 90 days following the request by Board staff, the application may be considered abandoned, and the application fee forfeited (Title 16, California Code of Regulations section 428).

Geotechnical engineering qualifying experience must be claimed after the date of licensure as a Civil Engineer in California.  A minimum of four (4) years of geotechnical engineering qualifying experience is required.

Geotechnical engineering qualifying experience consists of professional practice in responsible charge of geotechnical engineering projects. It does not include overtime, trainee, orientation programs, any work done before initial licensure as a Civil Engineer, or work done on exempt structures as defined in Business and Professions Code section 6737.1.

Experience must cover at least 50% of the major areas of geotechnical engineering. Qualifying experience must include a variety of experience in program development, analysis, and report preparation; it should also demonstrate working knowledge of field and lab studies and site monitoring. To qualify for licensure, an applicant must furnish evidence of responsible charge experience in the first three (3) items and provide evidence of working knowledge of the latter two (2).

Applicants may receive one (1) year of qualifying experience credit for postgraduate degree(s) from a Board-approved school of engineering with major studies in geotechnical engineering if the degree was not used for experience credit to obtain their Civil Engineer license.

If an applicant is claiming education for experience credit, they must submit transcripts to the Board.  If the university/college provides electronic transcripts, they must be sent directly from the university/college via email to  If the university/college provides paper transcripts they must be mailed to the Board.  Unsealed transcripts are not accepted. Foreign transcripts that are not in English do not need to be sealed, but applicants must submit the original transcripts along with a notarized English translation. Degree evaluations are not accepted.

The term "responsible charge" (Title 16, California Code of Regulations section 404.1) means the process of exercising control and direction of professional engineering work and making engineering decisions which can only be made by a Professional Engineer. Responsible charge directly relates to the span or degree of control over projects that a Professional Engineer is required to maintain.

The span of control necessary to be "in responsible charge" is such that the engineer:
(1) Personally makes engineering decisions concerning a project, including consideration of alternatives, or reviews and approves proposed decisions prior to their implementation, whenever such decisions affect the health, safety, or welfare of the public; and
(2)Judges the qualifications of technical specialists and the validity and applicability of their recommendations before such recommendations are incorporated into the work.  When making critical engineering decisions, the engineer must be physically present or be available by telephone or other communication devices within a reasonable period of time. The engineer must be a licensed Civil Engineer in the state where the work experience took place in order for that engagement to qualify as "responsible charge."  “Responsible change” doesn’t mean signing/stamping, but instead making engineering decisions/recommendations that only a Professional Engineer can make.

Applicants who have been licensed and practicing in another state may apply for authority to use the title “geotechnical engineer” with less than four (4) years of qualifying experience after obtaining their license as a Civil Engineer in California under certain circumstances. The Board will consider an application from an applicant who does not possess four (4) years of qualifying experience subsequent to the date of licensure as a Civil Engineer in California but who possesses experience equivalent to that provided in Title 16, California Code of Regulations section 426.51 and meets any of the following requirements:

  • Has practiced under the exemption for officers and employees of the government of the United States of America; or
  • Has practiced in responsible charge in another state (licensure in another state does not allow for responsible charge experience in California); or
  • Has practiced in responsible charge in another country.

The Board will accept an applicant under any one of the above conditions provided that the applicant has at least four (4) additional years of experience in geotechnical engineering work in addition to the six (6) years required for the Civil Engineer license in California.