Interested in a job in nuclear power? Whether you are new to the job market or a veteran in the industry, a career in nuclear power can be very rewarding. Maybe you are fresh out of school, or even changing career tracks. Either way, it’s quite possible that you have valuable skills that will help you transition into this in-demand industry. Here is some fresh insight into the nuclear power industry to give you a better idea of the types of jobs available and the skills that are in demand today.
The Nuclear Power Industry
Did you know that the US is the largest producer of nuclear power in the world? Our 100+ nuclear reactors produced more than 800 billion kWh in 2013 alone. The nuclear power industry is projected to grow at an increasing rate as government and the industry have worked closely together in recent years to expedite the approvals needed for the design and construction of new plants.
As US reliance on nuclear power has grown, so too has the demand for new power plants. There are currently multiple nuclear power units under construction, and at least six new units are expected to come on line in the next five years. What’s more, the industry is expected to see a sharp increase in demand for new workers as almost 40% of the workforce is eligible to retire in the next year. That provides a lot of opportunities for new hires and easier transitions into the industry.
Types of Jobs
Engineers are a critical part of the nuclear power industry workforce. But it’s not just nuclear engineering that is required, in fact less than 10% of the workforce has a degree in nuclear engineering. Also in demand are those with civil engineering degrees, as well as electrical and mechanical engineers who specialize in the servicing, designing, and construction of power plants and their various systems.
Technicians are relied on to assist in the power generation process. Operators are needed to monitor and control reactor turbines, generators, boilers, and various equipment within a power plant. Senior operators often also act as plant supervisors and managers.
Construction jobs are expected to rise as the US starts building new plants. Welders, electricians, pipe-fitters, iron workers, carpenters, and boiler-makers are all expected to be in high demand as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission received almost 30 license applications for new plants expected to be built in the next five years.
Valued Skills and Training
A strong background in math and science is critical in the nuclear power industry. These skills are also easily transferable from career to career. Working with nuclear technologies is complex work, so attention to detail, a focused mind, the ability to work as part of a team, the ability to work with computers, safety awareness, and excellent communication skills are all highly valued skills within the nuclear power industry.
While no certification is required to become a nuclear technician, many power plants are looking to hire those with at least an Associate’s degree. A familiarity with equipment, terminology, and safety requirements is highly desirable as well.