Nuclear Technicians: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more
- Education Required
- Nuclear technicians typically need an associate’s degree, or they may have equivalent experience from serving in the military—specifically, the U.S. Navy. Many community colleges and technical institutes offer associate’s degree programs in nuclear science, nuclear technology, or related fields. Students study nuclear energy, radiation, and the equipment and components used in nuclear power plants and laboratories. Other coursework includes mathematics, physics, and chemistry.
- Training Required
- In nuclear power plants, nuclear technicians start out as trainees under the supervision of more experienced technicians. During their training, they are taught the proper ways to use operating and monitoring equipment. They are also taught safety procedures, regulations, and plant policies. Workers who do not have the appropriate associate’s degree or its equivalent usually have a substantial period of onsite technical training provided by their employer before they begin full duties and a normal training schedule.
- Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 1% (Little or no change)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
- With additional training and experience, technicians may become nuclear power reactor operators at nuclear power plants. Technicians can become nuclear engineers by earning a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering. Nuclear physicists need a Ph.D. in physics. For more information, see the profiles on power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers; nuclear engineers; and physicists and astronomers.
- The Nuclear Energy Institute offers a certificate through its Nuclear Uniform Curriculum Program. The American Society for Nondestructive Testing offers Industrial Radiography and Radiation Safety Personnel certification. The National Registry of Radiation Protection Technologists offers certification as a Registered Radiation Protection Technologist.
- Median pay: How much do Nuclear Technicians make?
- $79,140 Annual Salary
- $38.05 per hour
Nuclear technicians typically work in nuclear energy production or assist physicists, engineers, and other professionals in nuclear research. They operate special equipment used in these activities and monitor the levels of radiation that are produced.
What do Nuclear Technicians do?
Nuclear technicians typically do the following:
- Monitor the performance of equipment used in nuclear experiments and power generation
- Measure the levels and types of radiation produced by nuclear experiments, power generation, and other activities
- Collect samples of air, water, and soil, and test for radioactive contamination
- Instruct personnel on radiation safety procedures and warn them of hazardous conditions
- Operate and maintain radiation monitoring equipment
Job duties and titles of nuclear technicians often depend on where they work and what purpose the facility serves. Most nuclear technicians work in nuclear power plants, where they ensure that reactors and other equipment are operated safely and efficiently. The following are types of nuclear technicians who work in the power generation industry: