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Nuclear Engineer

Job Duties

Nuclear engineers work alongside nuclear scientists and technicians on projects that involve the design and construction of nuclear reactors and power plants, development and production of weapons, evaluation of environmental and ecological research, health physics or industrial safety. Some are responsible for overseeing the operation of nuclear power plants and ensuring that the plants conform to safety and efficiency standards. Nuclear engineers solve problems by applying their knowledge of mathematics, economics, and engineering principles, often in conjunction with computers and simulation techniques. Safety plays an vital role in all aspects of their work.

General Engineering

Nuclear engineers may also be responsible for performing administrative duties, directing projects, supervising other workers, and preparing budgets. Some work as sales representatives, teachers, consultants, or members of government commissions. They keep up-to-date in their field by reading technical journals and through independent study and research.

Job Skills

Nuclear engineers must have both mathematical and mechanical aptitudes. Their work often requires high degrees of patience and precision. They need to be able to work effectively as part of a team, and they should have the ability to communicate in writing and orally. These communication skills are vital in the field of nuclear engineering because nuclear engineers interact so often with many non-engineering specialists in a wide variety of fields. Nuclear engineers should be analytical, creative, detail-oriented, and inquisitive.

Income

In 2002, nuclear engineers earned a median annual salary of $81,350. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $58,350, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $111,260. Those who worked for the Federal Government earned an average of $73,769 a year. According to a 2003 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor's degree candidates in nuclear engineering received starting offers averaging $50,104.

Training and Education

High school students interested in becoming nuclear engineers should take classes in higher mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry, and calculus, as well as the physical sciences, machine shop, and English. Other useful classes include drafting and mechanical drawing, electronics, business administration, computer science, and the social sciences.

A bachelor's degree is required for all entry-level nuclear engineering positions. Most programs include study in the nuclear specialty, as well as courses in mathematics and science. Many programs include a design course, along with a computer or laboratory class. Many colleges offer students the option of earning a 2- or 4-year degree in engineering technology, which include hands-on laboratory courses that prepare students for practical design and production work, as opposed to more theory-based jobs. While graduates of these programs may obtain the same kinds of jobs as graduates with a bachelor's degree in engineering, they are not qualified to register as professional engineers.

Faculty positions and many research and development programs in nuclear engineering require graduate training. Some engineers earn degrees in business administration to enhance their education and give themselves more career options. In fact, many high-level executives in government and business started their careers as engineers. Engineers in the United States are required to be licensed if they offer their services directly to the public. When engineers become licensed, they are designated Professional Engineers (PE). PE requirements include a degree from an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), 4 years of relevant work experience, and successful completion of a State examination. Entry-level engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers, and may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a staff of engineers and technicians.

Employment

In 2002, nuclear engineers held about 16,000 jobs.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of nuclear engineers is expected to experience little or no growth. This is mainly due to public concerns over the cost and safety of nuclear power. However, job opportunities for nuclear engineers are expected to be good because the number of graduates is expected to roughly equal the number of job openings.

For more information on how to pursue this profession, please see our Computer Training and Technology Education directory.


Nuclear Engineer Training

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            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

            About Education Corporation of America

            Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

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            Milan Institute , Bakersfield
            • Offers career programs in accounting, cosmetology, massage therapy, physical fitness training, and more.
            • Provides hands-on training led by instructors who have relevant, on-the-job experience.
            • Each campus features a public salon and spa for student practice.
            • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 11 campuses across California, Texas, Nevada and Idaho, as well as 8 additional Milan Institute of Cosmetology campuses.
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            • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
            • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
            • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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            • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
            • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
            • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
            • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
            • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
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            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
            • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
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            ABCO Technology , Los Angeles
            • An accredited computer training academy preparing students to enter the IT industry as Network Engineers, Software Engineers, Web Apps Developer, Website Designers, Programmers, Database Administrators since 2000.
            • Holds A+ certification from CompTIA.
            • Located in Los Angeles, approximately 10 minutes away from LAX.
            • Flexible class schedules offered during day times, evenings and weekends.
            • Helping students start a career in technology within 3 - 9 months.
            • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
            • Military friendly school.
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            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
            • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
            • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
            • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
            • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
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            • Online Courses
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