How to Become a Nuclear Power Plant Safety Inspector

Explore the career requirements for becoming a nuclear power plant safety inspector. Learn about the education and skills necessary to be successful. Get current information on potential job growth and median salary. Schools offering Public Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

A nuclear power plant safety inspector, or nuclear technician, assists physicists, engineers, and other professionals working with nuclear energy and production. A nuclear technician uses specialized instruments and various technical equipment to monitor the levels of radiation produced in a given area. Check out the quick-glance guide below to find out if this is the career for you.

Degree Required Associate's degree
Training Required Mentorships from 6 mo. to 2 yrs., depending on background
Educational Field of Study Nuclear studies, math, engineering, science, physics, technology
Key Skills Communicative, critical-thinker, mechanical, analytical
Optional Certifications Offered by Nuclear Energy Institute, American Society for Nondestructive Testing, or the National Registry of Radiation Protection Technologists
Job Growth (2016-26) 1% little or no change (nuclear technicians)*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $79,140 (nuclear technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What is a Nuclear Power Plant Safety Inspector?

A nuclear power plant safety inspector, or nuclear technician, ensures the safety of the systems responsible for harnessing, producing, and radiating nuclear energy. The nuclear technician's job involves investigating, measuring, collecting samples, maintaining equipment, and educating staff about the precautions to use in the working environment. Additionally, nuclear technicians measure the amount of radiation given off by experiments and sources of power generation while learning how to assess and test for radioactive materials. Most nuclear power plant safety inspectors work in the power plants; however, many nuclear technicians work in laboratories, waste management facilities, or in research.

What are the Typical Duties of a Nuclear Power Plant Inspector?

Daily activities of a nuclear technician are to actively monitor and measure radiation by collecting water, air, and soil specimens for radioactive testing. Additionally, the nuclear technician must maintain accurate documentation of all nuclear activities within the power plant. The nuclear power plant safety inspector will likely have different tasks throughout the plant such as checking the control rooms and logbooks, maintaining indoor and outdoor nuclear systems, and taking the necessary precautions to protect people from excessive radiation exposure. A nuclear technician will use a variety of technological equipment like computers, spectrometers, and detectors for measuring and documenting radiation levels.

What Level of Education is Needed to Become a Nuclear Power Plant Safety Inspector?

An associate's degree in nuclear science or technology is typically required to work as a nuclear technician. Those with military experience and training in nuclear energy are also candidates for the position. Many colleges and community colleges offer programs relating to the field of nuclear energy, so the options for obtaining a proper education are widely available. The Nuclear Energy Institute and the American Society for Nondestructive Testing also offer certification programs for various types of nuclear safety inspectors.

What Type of Training is Needed to Work as a Nuclear Power Plant Safety Inspector?

A nuclear power plant safety inspector typically has an extensive training period after hire. New nuclear power plant safety inspectors mentor with seasoned nuclear technicians for 6 months to up to 2 years before performing the job independently. Continuous training, examinations, and self-education is a constant process for a nuclear technician throughout his or her career.

Are There Additional Qualifications Needed for Becoming a Nuclear Power Plant Safety Inspector?

No, there are no specific qualifications needed if the educational or military requirements are met. There are attributes that employers see as optimal and as an asset in your career. For example, a strong background in math, physics, computer science, engineering, or mechanics is ideal. Additionally, a nuclear power plant safety inspector needs to have a keen eye for detail, excellent communication skills, and critical-thinking skills. Nuclear technicians can advance to become nuclear engineers if they choose to pursue a Bachelor's degree in nuclear studies.

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