Nuclear Engineering Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-11-1215 min read

Nuclear Engineering careers entail research, development, and application of nuclear and radiation processes. These processes involve releasing, controlling, and using nuclear energy and radioactive materials.

Nuclear engineers work to ensure a nuclear power plant's safety and smooth running. Their job roles also include maintenance, testing, and regulatory activities. Nuclear engineers also work in electricity generation fields.

Why Choose Nuclear Engineering?

Some reasons to choose a career in Nuclear engineering include the following:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nuclear engineers earn about $121,760 annually, above the national average of $58,260.
  • Nuclear engineers have high job security as their careers take long years of learning and practice.
  • The skill of a nuclear engineer is functional in other engineering fields.

How to Start your Nuclear Engineering Journey

You can start your journey in nuclear engineering with hands-on practicals in nuclear facility operations.

Companies provide training and mentorship for apprentices or young graduates starting their careers in nuclear engineering. Entry-level jobs typically start with low-paying job roles that require basic skills and might not require a degree.

As you progress in your career, opportunities for managerial positions may come based on having a postgraduate degree and more industry experience. A Ph.D., for instance, may get you a government job or a University professor role.

Education Requirements

Associate Degree

In most cases, an associate degree for a nuclear engineer is a two-year training in core nuclear engineering courses. Physics, mathematics, and computer application courses are inclusive.

Beginning engineers receive training to be technicians, maintenance, or non-licensed operators. Nuclear engineers at this level acquire hands-on learning opportunities and basic knowledge.

Bachelor's Degree

Nuclear engineers at this level receive in-depth training in the engineering and application of low-energy nuclear physics.

A bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering prepares you for entry-level engineering careers. It also equips a nuclear engineer for graduate studies in several engineering and math-related courses.

Master's Degree

Nuclear engineers can pursue a Master's degree after the BSc level, which takes about 12 to 19 months to complete.

Most nuclear engineers specialize in nuclear science and technology, applied plasma physics, and fission nuclear technology. A master's degree opens doors for promotions and leadership roles for a nuclear engineer.

Doctorate in Nuclear Engineering

This stage prepares nuclear engineers for careers in academia or research. There are also opportunities to work as engineering managers in high-level government jobs.

It takes about three-five years to complete a Ph.D. as a nuclear engineer. The study includes advanced coursework, mandatory workshops, research seminars, research publication, and a dissertation.

Employment Prospects

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report cited above, there would be an 11% decline in nuclear engineering jobs within the next decade. The fall may affect nuclear energy processing.

Notwithstanding, about 700 nuclear engineering positions would open annually over the years due to transfer, change in career, and retirement of nuclear engineers.

Nuclear Engineering Career Forecast

Nuclear engineering careers offer high starting salaries and job stability. Starting as a trainee would provide you with steady growth in the field.

In the long run, a nuclear engineer can switch to related fields such as non-nuclear engineering or space exploration.

According to one report, the employment outlook in this field may decline in the electricity sector but would increase in the scientific, management, R&D, technical, and consulting sectors.

Lucrative Nuclear Engineering Career Paths

Reactor Projects Engineer

A Reactor projects engineer researches nuclear engineering problems and applies the theory to nuclear energy problems.

Average Salary

The annual average pay for a reactor projects engineer is $98,380. Experience, certifications, and job description put the salary range between $105,799 and $129,062. A senior reactor operator, for instance, earns a gross annual income of $118,665. The salary range

Roles and Responsibilities

A reactor project engineer is primarily responsible for the following:

  • Development of programs and scripts (MATLAB) to post-process results.
  • Managing security access and legal activities onsite.
  • Manage the team of engineers on a project.

Industries Employing Reactor Projects Engineers

Senior reactor engineers can work onsite power plants in laboratories and nuclear energy processing facilities.

Radiation Physicist

A radiation physicist studies radiation and its effects for medical purposes.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a radiation physicist is $174,088. Top earners in this field make about $205,500. Salary difference depends on experience, education, certifications, location, and skill level.

The basic salary range, however, is between 118,000 and 235,000. Additional bonuses are up to $9,564 annually.

Roles and Responsibilities

Radiation Physicists primarily handle:

  • The safe and effective use of radioactive equipment in medical institutions
  • Study of radiation, nuclear materials, and its effects on the body.
  • Calibrating radiation equipment for use.

Industries Employing Radiation Physicists

A radiation physicist can work in a hospital radiology department or research laboratory.

Atomic Process Engineer

An atomic process engineer is in charge of conducting studies on designing, modifying, or developing a process on the phases of the fuel cycle.

Average Salary

Atomic process engineers earn up to $101,037 annually. The salary range is from $59,470 to $157,160. Several factors like experience, skill, and certifications affect the difference in income. For instance, there are middle earners at 60% with $97,360 and the top 80% earners at $157,160.

Roles and Responsibilities

An atomic process engineer is responsible for the following:

  • Designing and analyzing new processes for nuclear energy systems.
  • Compiling lessons on the operation of nuclear facilities and nuclear power sources.

Industries Employing Atomic Process Engineers

The following industries can employ an atomic process engineer:

  • nuclear facilities
  • research institutes

Nuclear Risk Analyst

A nuclear risk analyst supervises all risk-related technical assignments and the probabilities of new risks.

Average Salary

A nuclear risk analyst earns an annual average salary of $92,679. The basic salary range, however, is from $63,000 to $137,000. Additional annual pay is up to $7,028. Nuclear engineers that take up this role equally enjoy the perks of being senior-level technicians and beneficial contributors to the NRC.

Roles and Responsibilities

Nuclear risk analysts are responsible for the following:

  • Risk assessment and protection of the lives of the public.
  • Ensuring safety procedures are followed at all times to prevent nuclear accidents.
  • Mentoring junior technicians on the importance of safety with nuclear material and waste.

Industries Employing Nuclear Risk Analysts

  • Nuclear risk analysts can work anywhere nuclear materials are processed.
  • Government consultants

Nuclear Steam Supply System Engineer

Nuclear steam supply system engineers research problems in the nuclear energy process.

Average Salary

Nuclear steam supply engineers earn an average annual salary of $104,316. The salary range is between $66,650 and 152,220. The middle 60% earn $109, while the top 80% earn 152,220.

Roles and Responsibilities

The job description of a nuclear steam supply system engineer is as follows:

  • Resolving issues of power plant shutdown.
  • Issuing instructions or performance tests on equipment.
  • Addressing technical needs and reporting directly to The team.

Industries Employing Nuclear Steam Supply System Engineers

The following industries can employ nuclear steam supply system engineers:

  • Government research facilities.
  • Nuclear power plants.

Nuclear Safety Systems Engineer

A nuclear safety systems engineer supervises the safety of nuclear power plants.

Average Salary

On average, a nuclear safety systems engineer earns up to $100,371. The salary range, however, falls between $94.468 and $109,151. Experience, certification, and additional skills affect differences in salary.

Roles and Responsibilities

Nuclear safety systems engineer oversees the following:

  • Safety and operations of nuclear power plants.
  • Maintenance and review of plant construction design.
  • Development and documentation of nuclear safety procedures.

Industries Employing Nuclear Safety Systems Engineers

Industries employing a Nuclear Safety Systems engineers are:

  • Nuclear energy facilities
  • Government-owned facilities.

Radiation Engineer

A radiation engineer conducts experiments to test radiation effects in different settings.

Average Salary

Radiation engineers earn an annual salary of $104,520. The compensation, however, ranges from $33,500 to $187,500. The additional yearly pay in bonuses and other benefits is up to $21,281.

Roles and Responsibilities

Radiation engineers carry out these primary responsibilities:

  • Assists health physicists in monitoring physical health activities.
  • Collaborates to provide consultation services in medical institutions on radiation safety matters.
  • Distributing and collecting personnel monitoring equipment.

Industries Employing Radiation Engineers

The following industries can employ a radiation engineer

  • Health centers and hospitals
  • Nuclear power plants.

Computational Physicist

A computational physicist's job includes calculations and formulas.

Average Salary

A computational physicist earns about $122,019 a year. The average salary range is between $48,000 and 268,000. Most computational physicists' salaries range between $86,500 at 25% and 141,000 at 75%.

Roles and Responsibilities

Computational physicists handle the following:

  • Solve problems with mathematics and numerical formulas
  • Create physical phenomena on computer models.

Industries Employing Computational Physicists

The following industries can employ a computational physicist:

  • Nuclear energy processing facilities
  • Government-owned research facilities
  • Educational institutes.

Health Physicist

A health physicist is in charge of preventing nuclear accidents by enforcing safety procedures.

Average Salary

Health physicists earn an average annual salary of $117,734. Most salaries currently range between 62,500 at 25% and 149,500 at 75%. Some of the top earners, at 90%, earn up to 208,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

Health physicists are primarily concerned with the following:

  • Evaluating environments to ensure safety procedures are in place
  • Determining the safety of environments by checking the level of radiation and nuclear waste.
  • Studying how radiation affects life.

Industries Employing Health Physicists

The following companies can employ a health physicist:

  • Government institutions
  • Nuclear power plants.
  • Research laboratories.

Reactor Engineer

Reactor Engineers supervise the operations of nuclear reactors.

Average Salary

A reactor engineer earns an annual average salary of $90,770. The average salary ranges between $55,500 to $120,000 due to skill level, location, and experience level.

Roles and Responsibilities

Reactor engineers are responsible for the following:

  • Design and development of nuclear reactor programs. Nuclear engineers here are critical to missions.
  • Facilitating the control room and reclaiming nuclear fuel.
  • Developing testing processes to prevent nuclear waste.

Industries Employing Reactor Engineers

Industries that can employ reactor engineers are

  • Tech and cyber security companies
  • Government research labs.
  • Nuclear power plants.

Nuclear Electrical Engineer

A Nuclear electrical Engineer is in charge of all electrical components in nuclear power plants.

Average Salary

Nuclear engineers earn an average annual salary of $97,619. The current salary range is between $78,500 at 25% and $116,000 at 75%. Top earners at 90% earn up to $137,500.

Roles and Responsibilities

Nuclear electrical engineers are responsible for the following:

  • Designing and maintaining nuclear power sources.
  • Working with a team of nuclear engineers to research, inspect and maintain electricity in nuclear power plants.

Industries Employing Nuclear Electrical Engineers

Industries that can employ nuclear electrical engineers are:

  • Nuclear Power plants
  • Government research institutes.
  • Tech and software manufacturing companies.

Radiation Effects Engineer

A radiation effects engineer evaluates and applies radiation environments to develop appropriate test plans and procedures.

Average Salary

The average annual salary for radiation effects engineers is about $102,976. Additional pay and bonuses earned are about $32,328.

Roles and Responsibilities

Radiation effects engineers are primarily responsible for the following:

  • Evaluating radiation environments for specific missions.
  • Developing test plans and testing effects of radiation.
  • Working with nuclear engineers to evaluate electronic parts for new and existing designs.

Industries Employing Radiation Effects Engineers

  • Tech companies
  • Research laboratories
  • Nuclear power plants.

Nuclear Engineer

Nuclear engineers oversee nuclear energy processing and research in a nuclear power plant.

Average Salary

Nuclear engineers earn an average income of $80,247. Additional cash bonus, commissions, and tips pay about $12,400. The most likely range of salary is between $74,000 to $117,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

A nuclear engineer is primarily responsible for the following:

  • Research and project development.
  • Solving problems related to the use and disposal of nuclear energy and waste.

Industries Employing Nuclear Engineers

Nuclear engineers typically work in office settings. Industries that can employ nuclear engineers include:

  • Nuclear power plants.
  • Government research facilities.
  • Tech laboratories.

Nuclear Radiation Transport Analyst

Nuclear radiation transport analysts solve problems with radiation transport expertise.

Average Salary

Nuclear radiation transport analysts earn an average annual salary of $114,664. The basic salary range is between $91,731 and $137,597 for the top 67%.

Roles and Responsibilities

Nuclear radiation transport analysts are primarily responsible for the following:

  • Solving problems in the nuclear equipment space.
  • Developing and applying simulation and modeling capabilities.

Industries Employing Nuclear Radiation Transport Analysts

Industries that can employ a nuclear radiation transport analyst:

  • Nuclear power plants
  • Government agencies

Radiation Safety Technician

A radiation safety technician assists nuclear engineers in nuclear facility operations.

Average Salary

A radiation safety technician's average salary is $101,213. The most likely salary range is between $88,000 and $130,000. Additional pay in bonuses, commission, etc., add up to $5,327 annually.

Roles and Responsibilities

Radiation safety engineers are responsible for the following:

  • Assisting health physicists in physical health activities.
  • Assisting Nuclear engineers in nuclear facilities.
  • Ensuring engineers follow safety procedures.
  • Assists in decontamination and removal of nuclear waste.

Industries Employing Radiation Safety Technicians

Radiation safety technicians can find employment in industries such as

  • Nuclear facilities
  • Government research institutes

Consulting Physicist

Consulting physicists combine skill sets with data to solve clients' problems.

Average Salary

A consulting physicist earns an average of $135,801 annually. The most likely salary range is $140,000 to $238,000. Additional annual pay is about $45,575.

Roles and Responsibilities

Consulting physicists are primarily responsible for the following:

  • Working with clients in an advisory capacity.
  • Creating ways to solve problems critically.
  • Communicating technical findings to clients.

Industries Employing Consulting Physicists

Consulting physicists can work in these fields:

  • Academic institutions.
  • Medical facilities.
  • Government parastatals.

How to Boost your Nuclear Engineering Career

You can boost your nuclear career by getting a nuclear qualification. A bachelor's degree in Nuclear engineering would land you a better-paying role than an associate degree. You can upgrade an associate degree to a bachelor's degree.

Get the right set of skills by seizing internship and training opportunities. These opportunities come with technical experience, an added advantage for nuclear engineers.

Finally, select one of the many nuclear engineering jobs and specialize. It increases your chances among other nuclear engineers.

Pros and Cons of Nuclear Engineering Careers

Below are some pros and cons you want to consider before choosing nuclear engineering jobs.


  • Job stability
  • Reasonable remuneration and opportunities for extra pay.
  • The nature of the job is exciting as nuclear engineers sometimes get to be on missions to space.
  • A nuclear engineer's skill is functional for both industrial and medical uses.


  • Nuclear engineers are exposed to harmful radiation sometimes.
  • Getting qualifications to be a nuclear engineer is quite expensive.
  • Some moral oppositions come with working on nuclear weapons.
  • Nuclear power plants are pretty dangerous for workers.

Skills You'll Develop While Studying Nuclear Engineering

Studying for a career in nuclear engineering would help you sharpen some of the following skills:

Critical Thinking and Analysis

Nuclear engineering jobs require intense critical thinking and analysis for problem-solving. This skill prepares Nuclear engineers for global issues. A degree in nuclear engineering would help you develop this skill.

Software Skills

Nuclear engineering students would surely pick up this skill on the field. The job requires a good knowledge of computers, and you can't have computer skills without knowing some software. Most nuclear engineers work from an office space, which means computer basics like Microsoft Office and sending out emails are essential to build communication skills.

Management Skills

Experienced engineers are in management positions. The ability to manage a team or work in managerial positions is a skill nuclear engineers would acquire from their years on the field. Professional engineers are vital managers.

Interpersonal Skills

A nuclear engineer usually works in a team of other engineers, most of the time in a nuclear power plant. Even engineers working alone would, at some point in their careers, have to work with others. Studying nuclear engineering helps young engineers build interpersonal skills in their relationships with their peers.

Attention to Detail

A newly hired nuclear engineer that does not pay attention to detail will have issues in a nuclear facility. Nuclear engineering is a detailed field that requires the utmost attention. Experienced engineers have, over time, grown to acquire this skill.

How to Prepare for a Nuclear Engineering Career

There are specific steps you need to take to become a nuclear engineer. All these steps add up to doing these:

Take Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry in High School

Nuclear engineering requires you to have excellent math skills. Math skills would help build your problem-solving skills. Physics and chemistry are compulsory foundations for building your nuclear engineering career. These subjects are a prerequisite to pursuing a degree in this field.

Complete a Bachelor's Degree in Nuclear Engineering

A Bachelor's degree qualifies you for entry-level positions. Your credentials at this level should hold accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). A degree in nuclear engineering equally strengthens your prospects of advancing in your career.

Earn Postgraduate Degrees in Nuclear Engineering

A postgraduate degree is becoming twice as important as a Bachelor's degree. Some entry-level jobs now require nuclear engineers to have a master's degree. It's so common that some institutions now have a dual program to help students complete both degrees as quickly as they want.

Get Industry Certifications and State Licensure

Nuclear engineers can acquire additional licenses and certifications without a bachelor's degree. A licensing board issues a professional engineer license. Students would undergo continuous training to be licensed as Professional Engineers (PE) and hold security clearances. Engineers must take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam to become PE.

Gain Field Experience

Nuclear engineers need to start early to gain field experience. Experience is a plus to passing the FE exam. A newly hired nuclear engineer must earn at least four years of working experience to qualify for the PE exam.

Nuclear Engineering Resources to Help Your Career

Some professional nuclear engineering certifications to help your career include the following:

Fundamentals of Engineering exam (FE): An FE certification is compulsory for all nuclear engineers.

Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE): You can only get a PE certification after at least four years of practice. A PE certification makes you a licensed professional engineer.

Engineers can also access opportunities in engineering through these organizations:

How to Switch to a Nuclear Engineering Career

First, work on your knowledge of introductory science courses, physics, and mathematics. Also, sharpen your general engineering education knowledge. Then take the SAT to study nuclear engineering in a higher institution.

You may decide to start with an associate degree involving a two-year hands-on training or a Bachelor's degree.

Next, Select your area of specialization. Find relevant skills employers are interested in and focus on them.

Finally, apply for jobs. It is best to start with entry-level roles. A lot of nuclear engineers began this way and grew in their careers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Nuclear Engineering?

Nuclear engineering involves the process of release, control, and use of nuclear energy and radioactive materials. Nuclear engineers research new ways to use and manage nuclear energy in different situations, including:

  • Nuclear power plants.
  • Medical diagnostic equipment such as MRI machines.
  • Food production.
  • Nuclear weapons.
  • Radioactive-waste disposal facilities.

What certification do I need for a Nuclear Engineering career?

To be certified, nuclear engineers must take the Fundamental of Engineering exam (FE). Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) certification confers you to a professional engineering license.

The PE certification is only available for experienced engineers with at least four years in the field. In addition, nuclear engineers need a Bachelor's degree to get an entry-level role.

Can I get a Nuclear Engineering degree online?

You can get a nuclear engineering degree online; ensure the school has accredited programs from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

Some schools may require you to come in physically at some point during the training.

What fields can Nuclear Engineering professionals work in?

Nuclear engineers can work in the energy industry, ensuring that construction, maintenance, and disposal of nuclear waste are the norm.

Nuclear engineers can also find employment within the government.

Is there a high demand for Nuclear Engineering majors?

Nuclear Engineers are in high demand across various engineering sectors. The Bureau of Labour statistics posits that about 700 nuclear engineering jobs will be up for grabs from now till 2033.

Final Thoughts

Traditional nuclear power generation simplifies the process for nuclear engineers. The primary source of power here is the reactor core. A career in Nuclear engineering can be challenging, but if you ignore the hurdles and focus, a long and stable career path is assured.

Compare your school options

Made in Texas

600 Congress, 17th Floor | Austin, Texas

Privacy PolicyTerms of Service

2023 Authority - All rights reserved.