Career as a Nuclear Engineer: What You Need to Know

Career as a Nuclear Engineer

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Nuclear engineering is an appealing profession for some individuals, due to the risk of radioactive materials, complicated machinery, and responsibility for treating nuclear waste. However, it is vital that you do your research before applying for this field of work.

Get more information on what types of qualifications exist (education-wise) in working in your chosen career today. Occasionally, people find themselves thinking about the idea of joining the field of Nuclear Engineering. You may be in high school, college or in your career currently and you might want to really think about the benefits in learning more about this career by doing an internship at a nuclear plant in your future.

What is a Nuclear Engineer?

A nuclear engineer is someone who designs, tests, builds, and maintains the nation’s nuclear power plants. These institutions convert raw fuel into energy that can be used to power many different types of machinery. The training for this career includes a bachelor’s degree, which typically takes four years to complete.

Nuclear Engineers are people who design, build, or run nuclear power plants. They are employed by energy-producing companies, global research organisations, government agency, or academic institutions.

Nuclear Engineers typically work on all of the facets of producing electricity from power plants. Power generation can be divided into three categories: A nuclear engineer is responsible for designing, building, and operating the nuclear reactors. Some of their responsibilities are to design plans for fuel distribution, control rod distribution, monitoring radioactive materials, and maintaining quality assurance.

Types of Nuclear Engineers

  • Nuclear engineering usually refers to engineering that is related to the design and engineering of nuclear equipment and infrastructure.
  • A career in nuclear engineering can be challenging due to the highly specialist training required and regulated skillset associated with the work.
  • The United States is the leading nuclear engineering country in the world with many diverse careers to choose from. During the second half of 2011, 33% of all high school graduates that applied for college plans were considering a career in nuclear engineering. For current students, 69% are already accepting of being a nuclear engineer.
  • There are many types of Nuclear Engineer. The two most common are Materials Preparation Engineers and Reactor Design Engineers.
  • Materials Preparation Engineers help ensure the quality control of the nuclear materials used in nuclear plants.
  • Reactor Design Engineers help plan what sort of plants should be built to balance the needs of power, fuel, cost, protection from radiation, etc.
  • Many of the jobs out there- from sales to design to programming– require the same skills that a nuclear engineer would need. These may be foundational skills that you can always turn into a career with experience and further education. Within the field of engineering, however, there are multiple fields where a person may specialize.

How to Make a Career as a Nuclear Engineer?

Before anyone can make a career as a Nuclear Engineer, they should know what their roles are. There are three major aspects to the job: design, build, and operate reactors. The largest part of the job is creating designs for reactor systems that are suited to specific location or technical constraints. The second major role is constructing the actual reactor vessels. Once safely completed, the radioisotopes inside will be burnt and avoid pollution and increasing radiation levels on Earth and beyond.


Nuclear engineers deal with nuclear technology and make sure that all nuclear reactors work well. They also must plan for the disasters that always seem to pop up. As a result, Nuclear engineers need technical skills and creativity. The downside is that employment rates for these people are pretty scarce and they can’t micromanage their jobs as much as other scientists do.

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