Nuclear technicians essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $69,050
- 2012, number of jobs: 8,040
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 14 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Associate’s degree
Nuclear technicians; what they do:
A nuclear technician painstakingly monitors, maintains and provides quality control for nuclear testing and equipment as well as radiation levels. A nuclear technician career appeals to people interested in nuclear energy and laboratory work. Nuclear technicians help meet precise safety measures on many different levels and at all times.
There are two main types of nuclear technicians; nuclear operating technicians and nuclear protection technicians. Nuclear operating technicians use computers and other equipment to monitor the operations of a nuclear plant under the supervision of nuclear scientists. Nuclear protection technicians monitor radiation levels for workers, facilities and the surrounding environment.
Nuclear technician careers involve following policies and procedures which ensure high safety measures, monitoring different instruments and gauges used in nuclear research and experiments as well as meticulously calculating and monitoring radiation levels at all times during nuclear experiments and other forms of testing.
A nuclear technician career involves collecting gas, air, water and soil samples to detect radioactive contamination, teaching personnel correct safety procedures and use of equipment, especially in the event of an emergency, and performing laboratory experiments under the supervision of nuclear physicists and nuclear engineers as well as other scientists.
Nuclear technicians job titles:
- Radiation Protection Technician
- Radiation Technician
- Radiation Protection Specialist
- Radiation Control Technician
- Nuclear Tech
Nuclear Technicians Education, Certification and License Requirements
People typically need an associate’s degree in nuclear science, an associate’s degree in nuclear technology or an associate’s degree in a nuclear-related technology as well as security clearance and many years of on-site training to begin a nuclear tech career. The intensive nuclear technician training can take up to two years to complete.
Nuclear technician trainees work under skilled nuclear scientists to understand all of the operational equipment, safety measures and regulatory procedures before working independently. Nuclear techs take advanced educational and training courses to remain current on the latest in nuclear technology.
Nuclear technician programs cover subjects such as:
- Radiation biology
- Nuclear medicine
- Nuclear medicine physics
- Radiation physics
- Nuclear instrumentation
- Radio pharmacology
Career Advancement Opportunities
For advanced career opportunities, nuclear technicians can obtain a bachelor’s degree to become a nuclear power reactor operator or a nuclear engineer or they can further their studies and obtain a Ph.D. to become a nuclear physicist.
Nuclear Technicians Job Outlook
Forecast: 14 percent employment growth for nuclear technicians between 2010 and 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The occupation growth stems from greater production levels at existing power plants and newly created power plant operations as well as the increased demand for energy sources that are cleaner, renewable and do not emit greenhouse gases.
Areas such as nuclear energy, waste management, nuclear security and nuclear medical technology provide the best opportunities for nuclear technicians.
Nuclear Technicians Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $69,050
- 2012 workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $82,300
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $55,860
Nuclear Technicians Major Employers
- Professional scientific and technical services
- Waste management and remediation services