Tremendous energy is trapped in the nucleus of a tiny atom. Harnessing that energy is the work of nuclear engineers. They search for efficient ways to capture the energy from disintegrating atoms, or from the fusion of atoms, and put it to use. Nuclear engineers develop a variety of applications for nuclear energy, including diagnosing and treating illnesses… and in systems to power ships and spacecraft. Many of these engineers work with nuclear reactors, the source of energy for power plants to provide heat and electricity to many homes and businesses. The resources used in nuclear power generate potentially dangerous radioactivity. So nuclear engineers in power plants develop safety practices, and ensure that nuclear waste is disposed of with care. Their job doesn’t stop after designing cutting-edge new technology— they oversee operations and maintenance, and issue immediate emergency shutdowns if there are malfunctions. The majority of nuclear engineers work full-time for public utilities or engineering consulting firms. They sometimes collaborate with other kinds of engineers to improve each other’s system designs. A bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering is the typical entry-level requirement for this field some positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D. Nuclear engineers carry a large responsibility to safely manage a resource many people have come to depend on.
What they do:
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.
On the job, you would:
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.
Engineering and Technology
product and service development
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
Arts and Humanities
Safety and Government
public safety and security
using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Ideas and Logic
notice when problems happen
group things in different ways
choose the right type of math to solve a problem
add, subtract, multiply, or divide
see hidden patterns
People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Analytical or scientific software
The MathWorks MATLAB
Development environment software
Formula translation/translator FORTRAN
bachelor's degree usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.