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Nuclear engineer

Nuclear engineers are responsible for the safe running of nuclear power stations.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £24,000 to £70,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need an HNC, HND, foundation degree or degree in a relevant scientific or technical subject, like:

  • chemical engineering
  • electrical engineering
  • maths
  • mechanical engineering
  • physics
You could also go on a graduate training scheme. 

The Nuclear Industry Association has more information on becoming a nuclear engineer.

For some jobs in the nuclear industry you may need to pass security checks.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • problem-solving and analytical skills
  • planning and organisational ability
  • the ability to manage projects, budgets and people
  • excellent spoken and written communication skills

3. What you'll do

You’ll produce energy for business and domestic use.

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • designing and building new plants and equipment
  • monitoring and measuring radiation levels
  • carrying out maintenance work
  • making sure that the plant structure meets legal requirements
  • being responsible for security and safety
  • supervising power station technicians
  • planning safe methods of nuclear waste disposal

You could also use your knowledge of nuclear technology in other areas, like:

  • industrial or academic research and development
  • diagnosing and treating disease in medicine
  • developing and building nuclear-powered submarines

4. Salary

Starter: £24,000 to £29,000

Experienced: £30,000 to £50,000

Highly Experienced: £55,000 to £70,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

In processing and power stations you’ll work a 7-day shift system that may include weekends, evenings and nights. 

In research and development you’ll usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

You’ll work in laboratories, control rooms or offices. 

You’ll wear protective clothing when dealing with radioactive material.

6. Career path and progression

You could move into research, or university teaching. You could also work freelance.

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Last updated: 21 December 2016