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: Engineer, Nuclear Design Engineer, Nuclear Engineer, Nuclear Licensing Engineer, Nuclear Process Engineer, Nuclear Reactor Engineer, Radiological Engineer, System Engineer
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | 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.
- 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.
- Design or develop nuclear equipment, such as reactor cores, radiation shielding, or associated instrumentation or control mechanisms.
- Examine accidents to obtain data that can be used to design preventive measures.
- Direct operating or maintenance activities of operational nuclear power plants to ensure efficiency and conformity to safety standards.
- 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.
- Write operational instructions to be used in nuclear plant operation or nuclear fuel or waste handling and disposal.
- Conduct environmental studies related to topics such as nuclear power generation, nuclear waste disposal, or nuclear weapon deployment.
- Direct environmental compliance activities associated with nuclear plant operations or maintenance.
- Prepare environmental impact statements, reports, or presentations for regulatory or other agencies.
- Prepare technical reports of findings or recommendations, based on synthesized analyses of test results.
- Develop or contribute to the development of plans to remediate or restore environments affected by nuclear radiation, such as waste disposal sites.
- Conduct tests of nuclear fuel behavior and cycles or performance of nuclear machinery and equipment to optimize performance of existing plants.
- Design or oversee construction or operation of nuclear reactors or power plants or nuclear fuels reprocessing and reclamation systems.
- Design or direct nuclear research projects to test or modify theoretical models, develop new theoretical models, or discover new uses for current models.
- Design fuel cycle models or processes to reduce the quantity of radioactive waste generated from nuclear activities.
- Consult with other scientists to determine parameters of experimentation or suitability of analytical models.
- Perform experiments that will provide information about acceptable methods of nuclear material usage, nuclear fuel reclamation, or waste disposal.
- Discuss construction project proposals with interested parties, such as vendors, contractors, or nuclear facility review boards.
- Keep abreast of developments and changes in the nuclear field by reading technical journals or by independent study and research.
- Analytical or scientific software — Mathematical simulation software; Reactor excursion and release analysis program RELAP; SAS ; The MathWorks MATLAB (see all 18 examples)
- Computer aided design CAD software — Mathsoft Mathcad
- Customer relationship management CRM software — Salesforce software
- Data base user interface and query software — Data entry software ; Microsoft Access ; Relational database software
- Desktop publishing software
- Development environment software — Formula translation/translator FORTRAN; INCORE code; Software development tools; TOTE code (see all 5 examples)
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software — SAP software
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Graphics software
- Object or component oriented development software — C++ ; Oracle Java ; Python
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — Linux ; UNIX
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- 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.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- 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.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- 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.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- 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.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- 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.
- 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.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- 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.
- 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.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- 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.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- 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.
- 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).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- 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.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- 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.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- 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.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- 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.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- 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.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- 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.
Detailed Work Activities
- Resolve operational performance problems.
- Monitor processes for compliance with standards.
- Design energy production or management equipment or systems.
- Investigate safety of work environment.
- Direct energy production or management activities.
- Direct equipment maintenance or repair activities.
- Advise others on health and safety issues.
- Prepare procedural documents.
- Investigate the environmental impact of projects.
- Coordinate safety or regulatory compliance activities.
- Prepare technical or operational reports.
- Analyze test or validation data.
- Document design or operational test results.
- Prepare detailed work plans.
- Research energy production, use, or conservation.
- Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
- Develop operational methods or processes that use green materials or emphasize sustainability.
- Confer with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans.
- Communicate technical information to suppliers, contractors, or regulatory agencies.
- Update technical knowledge.
- Electronic Mail — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 80% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 88% responded “Every day.”
- Telephone — 73% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 56% responded “Extremely important.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 48% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 50% responded “Very important.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 59% responded “Important results.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 56% responded “More than half the time.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 59% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Contact With Others — 48% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Consequence of Error — 46% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Time Pressure — 44% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 44% responded “Some freedom.”
- Letters and Memos — 42% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 50% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 44% responded “Limited freedom.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 35% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 42% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 46% responded “Very important.”
- Exposed to Radiation — 33% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Level of Competition — 50% 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 real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
Interest code: IRC Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- 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.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- 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.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- 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.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- 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 (2019)||$54.55 hourly, $113,460 annual|
|Employment (2019)||16,400 employees|
|Projected growth (2019-2029)||Decline (-1% or lower)|
|Projected job openings (2019-2029)||700|
|Top industries (2019)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 wage data and 2019-2029 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2019-2029). "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.
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
- American Institute of Chemical Engineers
- American Nuclear Society
- American Physical Society
- Health Physics Society
- Institute of Nuclear Materials Management
- National Registry of Radiation Protection Technologists
- Nuclear Energy Institute
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Nuclear engineers
- Society of Women Engineers
- The American Society of Mechanical Engineers