Summary Report for:
17-2161.00 - Nuclear Engineers
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.
Sample of reported job titles: Criticality Safety Engineer, Engineer, Generation Engineer, Nuclear Design Engineer, Nuclear Engineer, Nuclear Licensing Engineer, Nuclear Reactor Engineer, Resident Inspector, Scientist, System Engineer
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- 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.
- Design and direct nuclear research projects to discover facts, to test or modify theoretical models, or to develop new theoretical models or new uses for current models.
- Recommend preventive measures to be taken in the handling of nuclear technology, based on data obtained from operations monitoring or from evaluation of test results.
- Synthesize analyses of test results, and use the results to prepare technical reports of findings and recommendations.
- Design or oversee construction or operation of nuclear reactors or power plants or nuclear fuels reprocessing and reclamation systems.
- Analyze available data and consult with other scientists to determine parameters of experimentation and suitability of analytical models.
- Conduct environmental studies related to topics such as nuclear power generation, nuclear waste disposal, or nuclear weapon deployment.
- Design fuel cycle models or processes to reduce the quantity of radioactive waste generated from nuclear activities.
- Develop or contribute to the development of plans to remediate or restore environments affected by nuclear radiation, such as waste disposal sites.
- Direct environmental compliance activities associated with nuclear plant operations or maintenance.
- Prepare environmental impact statements, reports, or presentations for regulatory or other agencies.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Desktop computers
- Facial shields — Face masks
- Hazardous material protective apparel — Anticontamination clothing
- Nuclear reactor control rod systems — Reactivity computer systems
- Nuclear tools — Nuclear wireline logging instruments
- Personal computers
Technology used in this occupation:
- Analytical or scientific software — Maplesoft Maple; Scientech WinNUPRA; The MathWorks MATLAB; Transient reactor analysis code TRAC * (see all 17 examples)
- Computer aided design CAD software — Mathsoft Mathcad
- Data base user interface and query software — Data entry software; Relational database software
- Desktop publishing software
- Development environment software — FOLLOW code; Formula translation/translator FORTRAN; INCORE code; TOTE code
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Graphics software
- Object or component oriented development software — C++
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software
* Software developed by a government agency and/or distributed as freeware or shareware.
- Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
- Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- 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.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Detailed Work Activities
- Update technical knowledge.
- Prepare detailed work plans.
- Document design or operational test results.
- Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
- Analyze test or validation data.
- Resolve operational performance problems.
- Advise others on health and safety issues.
- Confer with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans.
- Direct energy production or management activities.
- Direct equipment maintenance or repair activities.
- Monitor processes for compliance with standards.
- Prepare proposal documents.
- Investigate safety of work environment.
- Prepare procedural documents.
- Develop operational methods or processes that use green materials or emphasize sustainability.
- Prepare technical or operational reports.
- Communicate technical information to suppliers, contractors, or regulatory agencies.
- Design energy production or management equipment or systems.
- Research energy production, use, or conservation.
- Investigate the environmental impact of projects.
- Coordinate safety or regulatory compliance activities.
- Electronic Mail — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 95% responded “Every day.”
- Telephone — 68% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 82% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 68% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 55% responded “Very important.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 50% responded “Extremely important.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 50% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 73% responded “More than half the time.”
- Contact With Others — 50% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 50% responded “Some freedom.”
- Letters and Memos — 45% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 41% responded “High responsibility.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 45% responded “Some freedom.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 64% responded “Important results.”
- Time Pressure — 41% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Exposed to Radiation — 41% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 50% responded “Very important.”
- Consequence of Error — 32% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 32% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 27% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Level of Competition — 45% responded “Moderately competitive.”
|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, database administrators, teachers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
Interest code: IRC
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2014)||$48.30 hourly, $100,470 annual|
|Employment (2012)||20,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2012-2022)||Average (8% to 14%)|
|Projected job openings (2012-2022)||7,100|
|Top industries (2012)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Nuclear Engineers . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.