Nuclear Engineer

Nuclear engineers devise how to use radioactive materials in manufacturing, agriculture, medicine, power generation, and many other ways. Many nuclear engineers design, develop, monitor, and operate nuclear plants used to generate power. They may work on the nuclear fuel cycle — the production, handling, and use of nuclear fuel and the safe disposal of waste produced by the generation of nuclear energy. Others research the production of fusion energy. Some specialize in the development of power sources for spacecraft that use radioactive materials. Others develop and maintain the nuclear imaging technology used to diagnose and treat medical problems.

Low End Salary:   $66,650/yr
Median Salary:   $102,950/yr
High End Salary:   $152,220/yr


A bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs, but graduates with a degree in mathematics may qualify for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties that are in high demand. Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and science. A doctoral degree is essential for faculty positions at universities and many research programs at national laboratories but is not required for the majority of entry-level engineering jobs. Many engineers obtain graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology and broaden their education.

Math Required:

College Algebra Geometry Trigonometry Calculus I and II Linear Algebra Differential Equations Statistics

When Math is Used:

Math is required for all nuclear engineering, but some branches use math more than others. Math is specifically used in the computer code side of nuclear engineering, the instrumentation and control (I&C) area, and the heat transfer and fluid flow areas. Neutron transport, shielding work, nuclear criticality, and nuclear safety also involve a lot of math.

Potential Employers:

Almost half of nuclear engineers are employed in utilities; one-quarter in professional, scientific, and technical services firms; and 14 percent in the Federal Government. Many federally employed nuclear engineers are civilian employees of the U.S. Navy, and others work for the U.S. Department of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In addition to the nuclear power industry, Nuclear Engineers also find employment in sectors such as medical equipment manufacturing, construction firms, national laboratories, research facilities, and consulting firms. Nuclear Engineers may also focus on fission or fusion energy.



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