A nuclear engineer is one of the most exciting and demanding jobs in the field of engineering. Nuclear engineers make approximately $104,000 a year on average in salary, and the highest ten percent making over $176,100 make over a hundred thousand dollars per year. These highly specialized engineers are employed by power plants, and others work for private research labs and other private companies.
The main job responsibility of a nuclear engineer is to design, build, and maintain the core of a nuclear power plant. A nuclear engineer needs to be able to design and oversee the production of nuclear fuel. These engineers also need to be able to design and manage an inspection and maintenance program for their plants. They also need to be able to determine when a nuclear fuel rod is ready to be used and how many rods should be used at a time.
It is very difficult to train nuclear engineers since there are so many different areas to specialize in. One must learn how to design a nuclear fuel rod, how to produce it, how to safely store the fuel rods, how to inspect and maintain the rods, and finally how to dispose of the spent rods once they have been used. Nuclear engineers can obtain a bachelor's degree in this field, a master's degree, or even a PhD in nuclear engineering. Many schools offer accelerated degrees and diplomas for students who want to become nuclear engineers quickly.
Nuclear engineers must be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in order to work in a commercial facility. This is to ensure that the nuclear engineers that are employed at a power plant are not doing things that may endanger the safety of the public or the facility itself. In addition, they must also be trained in radiation protection. This is to make sure that when they are working in an area where they are exposed to the use of nuclear materials and equipment, there is no chance that they may be contaminated or harmed by radiation.
As an engineer, nuclear engineers are responsible for testing the safety of their work. They must know exactly what the limits of a material or device are before they put anything into it and how well it will hold up in the event of an accident. If an accident does occur and they did not test it properly, then they could be sued by their clients.
Nuclear engineers must work closely with a number of people to make sure that the plant and nuclear facility are operating correctly. Their knowledge of both the plant itself as well as the nuclear power process are invaluable to the overall success of the plant.