What does a nuclear technician do?
Nuclear technicians assist with nuclear research and tests and operate and manage a variety of nuclear test and research equipments. They measure and monitor radiation and keep detailed records to indicate the amount of radiation that is present in the facility. They must ensure radiation levels do not go over the allowed limit. Nuclear technicians are also responsible for making sure equipment is functioning properly and performing the essential maintenance. They often work with nuclear accelerators and reactors and oscilloscopes and voltmeters. Some operate equipment that is remote controlled to manipulate materials that are exposed to radioactivity or radioactive materials themselves.
What kind of training does a nuclear technician need?
Nuclear technicians need at least a high school diploma, but most employers prefer applicants with at least an associate degree in nuclear technology or other related field. Aspiring nuclear technicians typically complete courses in mathematics, chemistry, physics, computer science, and nuclear technology. Majority of employers provide on the job training where new technicians learn the policies, correct operation of equipment, and the proper safety procedures when dealing with nuclear materials. Nuclear technicians must stay up to date on the current advancements in the field and consistently update their skills. They often complete continuing education and additional training throughout their careers.
What are the prospects for a career as a nuclear technician?
Employment of nuclear technicians is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 7% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Technological advances and increased need for research for nuclear power will drive job growth.
Job prospects should be good especially for nuclear technicians that have extensive experience and advanced training. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace nuclear technicians that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do nuclear technicians make?
As of December 2009, nuclear technicians with 1 to 4 years experience earn average hourly rates between $19.31 and $33.37. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average hourly rates between $20.00 and $28.31 (2).
A career as a nuclear technician is a great choice for people with a strong interest in working with nuclear energy. Nuclear technicians must have solid understanding of how nuclear energy works and how to handle nuclear materials. They must always abide by the proper safety procedures and regulations to ensure the safety of themselves and the facility. Mechanical aptitude, organization, analytical thinking, attention to detail, and patience are essential characteristics. Nuclear technicians must also have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to work as part of a team.