In Summary - Nuclear Engineer
Nuclear Engineers typically work in the following Career Sectors:
- Nuclear Engineer - from: N.C.S. [UK]
The Work - Nuclear Engineer
In a nuclear power station, some nuclear engineers are responsible for operations engineering. Some work in the central control room, from where they can operate and monitor all the essential plant systems on a round-the-clock basis. Nuclear engineers deal with routine operations such as starting up and shutting down the plant. They must also deal with emergency operations and plant faults.
In systems engineering, nuclear engineers are responsible for maintaining all aspects of the systems used within the plants. They manage a wide range of electro-mechanical systems, including boilers, turbines, fuelling machines, diesel electrical generators and seawater cooling pumps.
Nuclear engineers study the likely causes of accidents and prepare reports on how best to tackle or avoid them. They also write and deliver training programmes for technicians and other staff.
They manage the process by which nuclear power plants are periodically shut down for routine maintenance and inspection. These periods are known as outages.
Nuclear engineers must make sure that the installation, testing and commissioning of all machinery and systems meets time, budget and quality targets. Some nuclear engineers are responsible for coming up with business plans and producing financial budgets.
They provide engineering solutions to technical issues as they come up, as well as planning and delivering programmed plant upgrades and modifications.
Other long-term work involves thinking of ways to decommission redundant nuclear reactors. Nuclear engineers need to think about how to retrieve, treat and store any waste from the site. At the start of a decommissioning project, nuclear engineers write budget and risk-assessment strategy reports.
Environmental safety and radiological protection are essential concerns for nuclear engineers. Nuclear engineers advise on all aspects of radioactive waste management. For example, they research, design and develop special containers (or flasks) to transport used or 'spent' fuel to scientists for recycling. It is vital that the containers are secure and made from the right materials, to stop the radioactive waste from leaking.
The field can also include the study of nuclear fusion, medical applications of radiation, nuclear safety, heat transport, nuclear fuels tech
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Initiate corrective actions or order plant shutdowns in emergency situations.
- Direct operating or maintenance activities of operational nuclear power plants to ensure efficiency and conformity to safety standards.
- Monitor nuclear facility operations to identify any design, construction, or operation practices that violate safety regulations and laws or that could jeopardize the safety of operations.
- Examine accidents to obtain data that can be used to design preventive measures.
- Design or develop nuclear equipment, such as reactor cores, radiation shielding, or associated instrumentation or control mechanisms.
- Write operational instructions to be used in nuclear plant operation or nuclear fuel or waste handling and disposal.
- Prepare construction project proposals that include cost estimates, and discuss proposals with interested parties such as vendors, contractors, and nuclear facility review boards.
- Perform experiments that will provide information about acceptable methods of nuclear material usage, nuclear fuel reclamation, or waste disposal.
- Conduct tests of nuclear fuel behavior and cycles or performance of nuclear machinery and equipment to optimize performance of existing plants.
- Keep abreast of developments and changes in the nuclear field by reading technical journals or by independent study and research.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Interests - Nuclear Engineer
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
You must have excellent engineering knowledge and a logical, methodical and thorough approach to solving problems.
You need good team working skills to support colleagues; you must be able to communicate well with other engineers and scientists.
You must be committed to protecting the safety of the public and the environment. You must be willing to learn and develop new knowledge, to keep up-to-date with environmental issues and public concerns about nuclear safety. You also need to keep up to date with all new and advancing technologies.
You may be responsible for planning timetables and budgets, so you need good organisational, written and numerical skills. The ability to stay calm and work well under pressure is very important.
You will need strong computer skills to use a wide range of sophisticated technology. You may supervise or train repair teams, so you must have good leadership skills; you need to be able to encourage and motivate others.
Entry Requirements - Nuclear Engineer
Nuclear engineers normally complete an appropriate engineering or science degree. There are no specialist courses in nuclear engineering. Instead, nuclear engineers come from a wide range of engineering disciplines, including Mechanical, Chemical, Control, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Materials Science.
It is essential to consult prospectuses to make sure the course you choose is appropriate to the branch of engineering you want to follow.
Depending on their level of entry, nuclear engineers can gain Chartered Engineer or Associate Engineer status [See Professional Titles at Engineers Ireland].
These professional titles can be applied for after first gaining an accredited degree, diploma or certificate and following this through with three or four years experience in the workplace.
Those who hold the Higher Certificate in Engineering can qualify to become Technician Members of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland. Following three years experience a member may then obtain the title Eng Tech IEI.
Chartered Engineers (CEngMIEI) normally have the greatest level of responsibility for engineering projects. They plan and manage engineering activities and functions and lead the development of new technologies. They make sure that a project is completed on time and within budget and may assume responsibility for the direction of important tasks, including the profitable management of industrial and commercial enterprises.
The usual route to CEng status is to complete an accredited engineering degree or equivalent and undertake four years postgraduate training and experience.
Associate Engineers (AEng IEI) normally have a specific level of responsibility for engineering projects. They may work as team leaders or deal with technical aspects of complex technologies. They may supervise quality assurance procedures, and manage and develop test and inspection programmes.
The usual route to AEng status is to complete an accredited or engineering degree and undertake three years postgraduate experience. Another way is to complete an approved National or Technician Diploma in Engineering or equivalent and follow through with four years postgraduate experience
Engineering Technicians (EngTech IEI) apply proven techniques and procedures to the sol
Last Updated: October, 2014
Pay & Salary - Nuclear Engineer
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 25k - 75k
Experienced 45k to 75k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.