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Summary Report for:
51-8011.00 - Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Operate or control nuclear reactors. Move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, and record data in logs. Implement emergency procedures when needed. May respond to abnormalities, determine cause, and recommend corrective action.

Sample of reported job titles: Reactor Operator (RO), Nuclear Station Operator (NSO), Nuclear Reactor Operator, Nuclear Control Room Operator, Nuclear Power Reactor Operator, Nuclear Control Operator, Nuclear Plant Operator (NPO), Nuclear Unit Operator, Licensed Reactor Operator, Nuclear Operator

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Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Credentials  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Related Occupations  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information

Tasks

  • Adjust controls to position rod and to regulate flux level, reactor period, coolant temperature, or rate of power flow, following standard procedures.
  • Implement operational procedures, such as those controlling start-up or shut-down activities.
  • Respond to system or unit abnormalities, diagnosing the cause, and recommending or taking corrective action.
  • Monitor all systems for normal running conditions, performing activities such as checking gauges to assess output or the effects of generator loading on other equipment.
  • Note malfunctions of equipment, instruments, or controls and report these conditions to supervisors.
  • Record operating data, such as the results of surveillance tests.
  • Dispatch orders or instructions to personnel through radiotelephone or intercommunication systems to coordinate auxiliary equipment operation.
  • Monitor or operate boilers, turbines, wells, or auxiliary power plant equipment.
  • Participate in nuclear fuel element handling activities, such as preparation, transfer, loading, or unloading.
  • Conduct inspections or operations outside of control rooms as necessary.

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Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

Air samplers or collectors — Air monitoring equipment; Air sample collection equipment
Dosimeters — Pocket dosimeters; Radiation monitoring instruments
Generator control or protection panels — Automatic control systems; Generator control panels
Nuclear fuel rod — Fuel handling systems
Nuclear reactor control rod systems — Control rod drives; Nuclear reactor control rod operation systems
Radiation detectors — Portal monitors; Radiation survey meters
Two way radios — Portable two way radios
Water pumps — Water recirculation pumps

Technology used in this occupation:

Data base user interface and query software — Data logging software; Microsoft Access; Plant information data entry software
Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel

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Knowledge

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.
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.
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.
Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
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.
English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

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Skills

Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
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.
Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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Abilities

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.
Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
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.
Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
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.
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).
Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

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Work Activities

Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
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.
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.
Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.

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Work Context

Face-to-Face Discussions — How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
Telephone — How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
Work With Work Group or Team — How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
Electronic Mail — How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
Contact With Others — How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
Duration of Typical Work Week — Number of hours typically worked in one week.
Consequence of Error — How serious would the result usually be if the worker made a mistake that was not readily correctable?
Coordinate or Lead Others — How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?

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Job Zone

Title Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed
Education Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
Related Experience Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
Job Training Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include food service managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, interviewers, and insurance sales agents.
SVP Range (6.0 to < 7.0)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
36   High school diploma or equivalent Help
28   Associate's degree
17   Post-secondary certificate Help

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Credentials

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Interests

Interest code: RCE

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.
Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

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Work Styles

Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
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.
Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

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Work Values

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.
Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
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.

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Related Occupations

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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2013) $37.67 hourly, $78,350 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2012) 7,000 employees
Projected growth (2012-2022) Little or no change (-2% to 2%) Little or no change (-2% to 2%)
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 2,300
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2012)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 wage data external site and 2012-2022 employment projections external site. "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.

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Job Openings on the Web

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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.

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