Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear engineering deals with the harvesting and control of nuclear power to meet commercial needs. Multiple degree levels are available in this field. Read on to explore academic requirements, employment outlook and salary info.

Is Nuclear Engineering for Me?

Career Overview

Nuclear engineering professionals may help create and maintain power plants, develop efficient ways to recycle nuclear waste or develop radiation-resistant materials for use in conjunction with nuclear power. These types of professionals are commonly known as nuclear engineers; other related job titles might include nuclear technicians and nuclear scientists.

Employment Options

As a graduate of a nuclear engineering program, you may choose to pursue a career operating nuclear power plants, developing nuclear reactors or developing fuels. You might want to work in health, medicine or research. Employment settings might include government organizations, utility companies and private research corporations.

Job Outlook and Salary Statistics

Nuclear engineers should have sufficient job opportunities; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 9% increase in employment of nuclear engineers from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). In May 2012, nuclear engineers earned an average annual salary of $107,140, reported the BLS.

How Can I Work in Nuclear Engineering?

Education Information

Educational programs in nuclear engineering are offered at most universities. Academic programs in nuclear engineering range from undergraduate programs to graduate programs. Available graduate degrees typically include a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering and a doctoral degree in engineering. As a doctoral degree student, you might need to complete an internship and a dissertation. If you want to become a graduate student, you need to possess a relevant bachelor's degree.

While enrolled in a nuclear engineering degree program, you should gain a strong understanding of physics and mechanical engineering. You should also develop the ability to solve diagnostic problems and build interpersonal communication and managerial skills.

Topics of Study

Studies in nuclear engineering might cover power production, atomic engineering, energy systems, nuclear reactors, nuclear systems, radioactivity and synthesis. Classes will be math intensive and include physics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, system modeling and environmental studies. You might also have to complete research projects and participate in seminars. As a student, you should obtain hands-on training through modern computers and extensive laboratories.

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