Skip to main content

Careers in Nuclear Energy

The various sectors of the nuclear energy industry employ tens-of-thousands of workers. Most jobs are related to power production in plants, research facilities, design firms and suppliers. In 2009, the nuclear industry employed approximately 120,000 people in the United States. The following profiles describe commonly held positions in the nuclear industry.

Entry-Level Engineer - Junior engineers help with the monitoring of the performance of the plant systems and components. They assist with the development of complex troubleshooting plans to support plant operations.

Experienced Engineer - Senior engineers are responsible for the coordination and implementation of large-scale engineering projects at nuclear power plants. They also act as technical specialists for a specific engineering field. Duties include carrying out advanced engineering and technical tasks within their specialty. Other duties include performing independent research, reviews, studies and analyses in support of technical projects.

Mechanical Technician - A mechanical technician performs maintenance on systems, both preventive and corrective on components and structural facilities. They help to ensure the reliability of a nuclear power plant.

Electrical Technician - An electrical technician's duties consist of the maintenance and repair of highly complex electrical/electronic equipment required for a nuclear plant. Responsibilities include troubleshooting, testing and inspecting in a highly skilled manner.

Instrumentation and Control (I&C) Technician - An I&C technician plays a key role in ensuring that instrumentation within the nuclear plant functions properly and is calibrated accurately. Work includes testing, troubleshooting, reworking, modifying and inspecting devises which control and measure the operation of the power plant.

Chemistry Technician - Measuring radioactivity is a vital part of the safety function within a power plant. A chemistry technician measures radioactivity levels and plant chemistry. They operate chemical and radiochemical instrumentation and equipment.

Radiation Protection Technician - Radiation protection technicians measure and record radiation levels. They service, maintain, and calibrate radiation protection instruments and equipment. They play a critical role in ensuring the safety of employees working in radiation areas. They ensure the facility's compliance with radiation requirements.

Non-Licensed Operator - Non-Licensed Operators support the reactor operators and senior reactor operators. The operator's duties involve running key operations in the plant. These include opening and closing valves, electrical breakers and other devices. Their role also involves directly monitoring plant equipment performance. Operators typically work in teams in shifts to endure accurate, around the clock coverage.

Reactor Operator - A reactor operator is a position that is licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They are responsible for operating the controls of the reactor with the shift team. The reactor operator moves control rods that adjust the reaction rate. They also start and stop equipment and implement operations procedures and conduct surveillance tests.

Senior Reactor Operator - A senior reactor operator is licensed to operate a nuclear power plant in accordance with all regulations outlined by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission with maximum compliance. Duties include operating the mechanical, electrical and reactor systems from the plant control room. They must ensure the plant is run in a safe and efficient manner.