How to Become a Nuclear Engineer

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Nuclear technology is a very important field and nuclear power plants produce about 20% of the electricity in the U.S. Nuclear technology is also essential in the field of medicine and assists in diagnosing and treating illnesses and diseases. Nuclear engineers design processes and systems where radiation plays a chief role. Nuclear engineering may be the key to providing advances in many industries in the future.


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What does a nuclear engineer do?

Nuclear engineers investigate and create the processes, systems, and instruments that are used to obtain benefits from radiation and nuclear energy. They often plan, develop, observe, and operate nuclear plants that produce power. Some work on the manufacturing, handling, and use of nuclear fuel. Some create procedures to minimize radiation exposure by workers. They are also concerned with the safest way to eliminate waste generated from the production of nuclear energy.

Some nuclear engineers specialize in finding medical and industrial uses for radioactive substances, other focus on creating nuclear power sources for spacecraft or naval vessels. Nuclear engineers also strive to find solutions to engineering problems.

What kind of training does a nuclear engineer need?

Nuclear engineers usually need at least a bachelor degree in nuclear engineering. Some have degrees in chemical or mechanical engineering, physics, or other related field. A master or doctorate degree is required for some positions. Many educational programs offer work-study, co-op, or internship programs to allow students to gain practical experience. Most positions provide intensive on the job training through college programs and federal government agencies.

All 50 states require nuclear engineers who work for public sectors to be licensed. A bachelor degree from an accredited program, a minimum of 4 years experience, and passing a state examination are typically the requirements for licensure. Nuclear engineers must stay current on the constantly changing technology and regularly complete continuing education courses.

What are the prospects for a career as a nuclear engineer?

Employment of nuclear engineers is projected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 7% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The demand for engineering services and research and development will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good because there are limited amount of nuclear engineering graduates every year compared to amount of job openings.

How much do nuclear engineer make?

As of August 2009, the middle 50% of nuclear engineers earned annual salaries between $59,017 and $66,919. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $69,319 (2).

A career as nuclear engineer is a great choice for people interested in nuclear technology. Nuclear engineers must be able to overcome challenges, take risks, and exercise caution. They must have talent in logical reasoning and advanced mathematics. Strong problem solving ability, good communication skills, and the ability to work effectively as part of a team are also essential. Nuclear engineers must also be patient and pay close attention to detail.

Joshua T Osborne

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