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How to get a job in the nuclear sector

Published on: 24 Jun 2024

Nuclear engineers are afforded opportunities to work on cutting-edge technology, address critical energy needs, and contribute to national and global safety. Here’s a guide to help you navigate your way into the industry.

How to get a job in the nuclear sector

Understanding nuclear

Firstly, engineers keen to enter sector need to understand which branch fits their skills be it power generation, medical applications, research, or national security. 

Nuclear power plants: Engineers in this sector work on the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of nuclear reactors.

Nuclear medicine: This involves using radioactive materials for diagnosis and treatment in healthcare.

Research and development: R&D in nuclear science and engineering focuses on developing new technologies and improving existing ones.

Nuclear safety: Ensuring the safe operation of nuclear facilities and compliance with regulations.

Waste management: Handling and disposal of radioactive waste in an environmentally safe manner.

A strong educational background is crucial for entering the nuclear sector. Starting with a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, or physics is a must.

Later, advanced degrees such as pursuing a master’s or Ph.D. in nuclear engineering or related fields will help candidates to enter specialised roles and R&D positions. Professional certifications like the Nuclear Engineer Professional Engineer (PE) license can also enhance your qualifications.

Gaining Relevant Experience

As with most things engineering, hands-on experience is invaluable in the nuclear sector. Engaging in internships or cooperative education programs with nuclear power plants, research labs, or regulatory bodies would be a good place to start.

Joining research projects during your academic career could also be very helpful later on, especially those funded by government agencies or nuclear organisations.

Entry-level engineering positions in related fields, such as energy or manufacturing are also a pathway into getting a nuclear role.

Develop specialised skills

In addition to general engineering skills, certain specialised skills are highly valued in the nuclear sector:

Nuclear safety and risk assessment: Understanding the principles of nuclear safety and how to assess and mitigate risks.

Radiation protection: Knowledge of radiation protection techniques and regulations.

Regulatory compliance: Familiarity with nuclear regulations and compliance requirements.

Advanced simulations: Skills in using simulation software for reactor design and analysis.

When you’re ready to start job hunting, here’s where to look:

Job boards: Check specialised job boards like or the career pages of professional organizations like ANS.

Company websites: Explore the career pages of major nuclear companies such as Westinghouse, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, and national laboratories.

Government agencies: Look for opportunities with government agencies like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or the Department of Energy (DOE).

Preparing for interviews

When preparing for interviews in the nuclear sector, focus on:

Technical knowledge: Be prepared to discuss your technical expertise and how it applies to nuclear engineering.

Safety focus: Demonstrate your understanding of and commitment to nuclear safety principles.

Problem-solving skills: Highlight your problem-solving abilities and experience with complex engineering challenges.

Teamwork: Emphasise your ability to work effectively in multidisciplinary teams and communicate complex information clearly.

Whether you’re driven by the promise of technological innovation, the importance of energy security, or the challenge of ensuring safety and compliance, the nuclear sector offers a wealth of opportunities for engineers ready to make a difference.