What is a Nuclear Engineer?

Nuclear Engineering is the design and application of various technologies that harness nuclear energy in a productive way.

What Does a Nuclear Engineer Do?

Nuclear Engineers perform a number of different tasks depending on their industry of choice. Many design nuclear equipment that is used in power plants, medical machinery, and other devices. They may also operate and observe the operation of advanced nuclear machinery. In addition, they may be responsible for monitoring nuclear equipment and handling any emergency situations quickly and adeptly. Nuclear Engineers that work for universities may study bigger and better ways to utilize nuclear energy.

Where Does a Nuclear Engineer Work?

Nuclear Engineers works in a variety of different settings depending on what industry they work in. Many spend the majority of their time in offices, usually utilizing computers to analyze data, design new equipment for various industries, or monitor equipment. Those working for private power companies may find themselves working on the floor of the plant. Engineers employed at research universities will work in a laboratory environment analyzing data and utilizing advanced equipment to study the behavior of nuclear energy.

Most Nuclear Engineers work a full-time schedule, but this may vary at times depending on where they are employed.

What Is the average Nuclear Engineer Salary?

Nuclear Engineers earn around $104,270 a year on average, with the highest 10% earning around $149,940 and the lowest 10% earning around $68,940.

Most of these specialized engineers work for power companies, but others work for the Federal government and private research facilities.

StateTotal EmploymentBottom 25%Median SalaryTop 75%
Alabama240$86,240$104,030$116,400
California1,450$105,630$133,360$162,830
Colorado30$125,470$139,280$153,750
Connecticut430$92,680$112,660$134,990
District of Columbia90$127,140$156,060$165,320
Florida280$84,240$100,740$114,230
Georgia330$76,370$87,230$103,660
Idaho250$85,490$106,450$130,800
Illinois930$99,830$110,050$119,920
Kansas-$81,220$93,580$107,100
Louisiana200$87,000$107,750$130,250
Maryland390$95,090$128,890$165,700
Michigan430$80,020$97,580$112,680
Minnesota190$77,540$99,220$111,810
Missouri30$72,720$87,110$104,770
Nebraska180$74,350$97,950$111,930
New Jersey370$90,300$106,140$119,330
New Mexico460$114,530$142,550$170,400
New York670$92,330$116,420$147,120
North Carolina190---
Ohio-$82,230$96,930$113,540
Pennsylvania1,510$74,650$91,320$109,160
South Carolina750$76,300$87,980$104,530
Tennessee1,050$97,110$118,430$168,150
Texas370$79,970$104,760$128,440
Virginia2,250$68,780$87,160$103,650
Washington1,050$79,630$95,440$109,940
Wisconsin180$99,080$106,850$114,620

Table data taken from BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172161.htm)

What Is the Job Demand for Nuclear Engineers?

The job demand for Nuclear Engineers is expected to grow 9% in the next 10 years, which is average among all professions. These engineers could possibly face an employment boom in the future as nuclear power improves and the health field explores nuclear medicine.

What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Nuclear Engineer?

Nuclear Engineers must have a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited university, typically in nuclear engineering. Gaining lab and fieldwork during school will help the student gain the most experience during their time at school.

Many Nuclear Engineers go on to earn a master's degree, which allows them to work in an academic environment as a teacher and researcher. Some universities even offer 5-year programs that will earn students both a bachelor's degree and master's degree at once.

Other Degrees Related to Nuclear Engineering

What Kind of Societies and Professional Organizations Do Nuclear Engineers Have?

Nuclear Engineers and those who wish to enter the field can also browse through these government websites and organizations for valuable resources:

  • American Nuclear Society (ANS) is a non-profit organization that works towards promoting the field of nuclear technology. It promotes the professional development of everyone working in the nuclear sciences. ANS also allows everyone to share knowledge across the industry through events and publications.
  • World Nuclear Association (WNA) is an international professional organization that aims to promote nuclear energy and provide support to nuclear industries. Becoming a member of this organization allows Nuclear Engineers to stay aware of upcoming trends in the industry and remain updated on best practices through international forums, informational papers, and the industry-specific magazine World Nuclear News.
  • North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) is an organization dedicated to helping young professionals in the Nuclear industry advance in their careers. This organization provides numerous networking opportunities through committees, local chapters, and conferences. In addition, they offer a number of professional awards and informative documents that allow young Nuclear Engineers to have an advantage over their competitors.