Are you interested in pursuing a fast-paced and dynamic career in the nuclear power industry but aren’t sure where to start? There are many different opportunities in nuclear power, one of the most compelling and rewarding being a nuclear licensing engineer. If you are interested in learning more about this role, consider these skills, abilities, professional characteristics to know if you’re qualified.
Understanding the Role
Nuclear engineers research and develop the processes, instruments, and systems used to derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation. Many of these engineers find industrial and medical uses for radioactive materials—for example, in equipment used in medical diagnosis and treatment. Many others specialize in the development of nuclear power sources for ships or spacecraft.
Nuclear licensing engineers are typically called on to do many complex tasks such as designing or developing nuclear equipment, such as reactor cores, radiation shielding, and associated instrumentation. They direct operating or maintenance activities of operational nuclear power plants to ensure that they meet safety standards. They are also expected to write operational instructions to be used in nuclear plant operation or in handling and disposing of nuclear waste and to monitor nuclear facility operations to identify any design, construction, or operation practices that violate safety regulations and laws.
They are asked to perform experiments to test whether methods of using nuclear material, reclaiming nuclear fuel, or disposing of nuclear waste are acceptable and to take corrective actions or order plant shutdowns in emergencies. That also leads to opportunities to examine nuclear accidents and gather data that can be used to design preventive measures.
Key Skills and Qualifications
Nuclear engineers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering. Employers value experience as well, which can be gained through cooperative-education engineering programs. The key skills that employers need from their talent in this role include analytical skills, as nuclear engineers must be able to identify design elements in order to help build facilities and equipment that produce material needed by various industries, communication skills, as the work depends heavily on a professional’s ability to work with other engineers and technicians, and attention to detail, as nuclear engineers supervise the operation of nuclear facilities and must pay close attention to what is happening at all times and ensure that operations comply with all regulations and laws pertaining to the safety of workers and the environment.
Employers are looking for those candidates with strong logical thinking skills. Nuclear engineers design complex systems and therefore, they must be able to order information logically and clearly so that others can follow their written information and instructions. They need to have excellent math and problem-solving skills as well. Because of the hazard posed by nuclear materials and by accidents at facilities, nuclear engineers must be able to anticipate problems before they occur and safeguard against them.
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