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Career Profile: Nuclear Engineers

Conduct research on nuclear engineering projects or apply principles and theory of nuclear science to problems concerned with release, control, and use of nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 17,200 people employed as nuclear engineers in the United States. The median annual salary is $116,100. Entry level employees earn approximately $74,800 per year and senior employees earn approximately $185,550 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Initiate corrective actions or order plant shutdowns in emergency situations.
  • Monitor nuclear facility operations to identify any design, construction, or operation practices that violate safety regulations and laws or could jeopardize safe operations.
  • Design or develop nuclear equipment, such as reactor cores, radiation shielding, or associated instrumentation or control mechanisms.
  • Examine accidents to obtain data for use in design of preventive measures.
  • Direct operating or maintenance activities of nuclear power plants to ensure efficiency and conformity to safety standards.
  • Recommend preventive measures to be taken in the handling of nuclear technology, based on data obtained from operations monitoring or from evaluation of test results.
  • Write operational instructions to be used in nuclear plant operation or nuclear fuel or waste handling and disposal.
  • Conduct environmental studies on topics such as nuclear power generation, nuclear waste disposal, or nuclear weapon deployment.
  • Direct environmental compliance activities associated with nuclear plant operations or maintenance.
  • Prepare environmental impact statements, reports, or presentations for regulatory or other agencies.
  • Prepare technical reports of findings or recommendations, based on synthesized analyses of test results.
  • Develop or contribute to the development of plans to remediate or restore environments affected by nuclear radiation, such as waste disposal sites.
  • Conduct tests of nuclear fuel behavior and cycles or performance of nuclear machinery and equipment to optimize performance of existing plants.
  • Design or oversee construction or operation of nuclear reactors, power plants, or nuclear fuels reprocessing and reclamation systems.
  • Design or direct nuclear research projects to develop, test, modify, or discover new uses for theoretical models.
  • Design fuel cycle models or processes to reduce the quantity of radioactive waste generated from nuclear activities.
  • Consult with other scientists to determine parameters of experimentation or suitability of analytical models.
  • Perform experiments that will provide information about acceptable methods of nuclear material usage, nuclear fuel reclamation, or waste disposal.
  • Discuss construction project proposals with interested parties, such as vendors, contractors, or nuclear facility review boards.
  • Keep abreast of developments and changes in the nuclear field by reading technical journals or by independent study and research.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
17,200
Annual Openings:
900
Increase in Openings by 2030:
-8%
Annual Salary Range:
$74,800 - $185,550
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree