How to Become Nuclear Engineer

How to Become Nuclear Engineer

How to Become Nuclear Engineer
Saru Niraula

Nuclear engineers are responsible for designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and decommissioning nuclear reactors and other nuclear facilities. They have a broad knowledge base, including engineering, science, law, and medicine. Their work requires extensive interaction with regulatory bodies, contractors, vendors, and operators.

As a nuclear engineer, your job will require you to use many tools and techniques. You may need to learn how to build models, draw diagrams, and perform calculations. It may seem like a tough job, but passionate hearts for the field will have great opportunities to make a name for themselves and have a delightful lifestyle.

Nuclear engineering is among the most demanded professions, offering great benefits and growth opportunities. If you are interested in building your career in this gainful work of line, here are some guides on ‘how to become a nuclear engineer.’

What Is a Nuclear Engineer?

A nuclear engineer has received specialized training in designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining nuclear reactors. They are involved in researching, developing, testing, and evaluating nuclear power systems. 

Nuclear engineers work closely with other engineers to develop nuclear power plants that produce energy from uranium or plutonium fuel. They design reactors and conduct research into safety procedures, nuclear waste disposal, and radiation effects on humans and animals. Most of their work involves developing safety standards and regulations for nuclear facilities.

To work in this field, they need a bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering, which may include courses in chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, geology, biology, and other related fields.

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of Nuclear Engineers? 

  • Design and construct mining equipment; they are responsible for designing the reactor’s fuel elements, control rods, and other components.
  • Conduct research, test, analyze, and operate nuclear reactors, radioactive materials, medical equipment, computers, and other systems used in the industry.
  • Maintain existing reactors by repairing them or replacing parts. 
  • Help develop plans for future plants and train others to operate them. 
  • Designing equipment to protect people from radiation exposure.
  • Ensuring the safety and security of radioactive materials.
  • Monitoring and regulating nuclear facilities
  • Ensure that the reactor is designed to meet the needs of its users.
  • Provide technical expertise to the project team.
  • Make sure the reactor operates safely and efficiently.
  • Work closely with other disciplines, including chemistry, metallurgy, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and mathematics.

Bachelor of Engineering in USA

Qualifications Required to Be a Nuclear Engineer

  1. Problem-Solving Skills

This is among the top-priority qualification to be a nuclear engineer, you must have Problem-solving skills to encounter challenges and obstacles in the field, as the nuclear field can be pretty challenging, and inevitable miscalculations may bring issues to projects. 

As a nuclear engineer, this skill set includes critical thinking, decision-making, planning, organizing, prioritizing, self-monitoring, and time management.

  1. Communication Skills

In addition to their technical expertise, nuclear engineers must possess excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. 

They must be able to explain complex concepts to non-technical audiences, and they should be able to communicate effectively with those who do not share the same level of knowledge.

  1. Ability to analyze, interpret, and make decisions

To be a nuclear engineer, you need to be able to find, access, evaluate and assess data related to your field of interest. You need to be able to read scientific journals, identify trends, and draw valid conclusions from them. 

In addition, you also need to be able to use this knowledge to develop solutions and recommendations that can help organizations succeed.

  1. Knowledge of Radiation Protection

Radiation protection is a critical aspect of operating a nuclear power plant. Candidates should have some knowledge about radiation and its effects on human health. They should also know what types of protective equipment are used to minimize exposure to harmful radiation levels.

  1. Creativity

The ability to think outside of the box is necessary to be a successful nuclear engineer. Nuclear engineers are responsible for designing and building nuclear power plants. They do this by thinking about the reactor's design and then figuring out ways to make those designs safer and more efficient. If you cannot develop unique solutions to problems, your job may be at risk.

  1. Flexibility

Nuclear engineers are constantly being trained and educated on new technologies and ideas. Because of this, they must be able to adapt their knowledge to whatever new technology comes along. To succeed in this field, you must be willing to learn something new daily.

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The Process to Become a Nuclear Engineer

  • Get a Degree 

If you decide to pursue a career in nuclear technology, you should consider enrolling at a college or university. These schools offer programs designed specifically for students interested in becoming nuclear engineers. They also provide internship programs that give you hands-on experience.

Degree Programs for Nuclear Engineers

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor's Degree in Nuclear Engineering

B.S. In Nuclear Engineering

Bachelor in Nuclear Science and Engineering

Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering

Bachelor’s in Nuclear & Radiological Engineering

BS Degree in Nuclear Engineering

Master’s Degree Programs

Master's of Science and Engineering in Nuclear Engineering

Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering

Master's Degree in Nuclear Engineering

MS in Nuclear Science and Engineering

MSc Nuclear Science and Technology

MSc in Nuclear Power Engineering

European Master of Science in Nuclear Fusion and Engineering Physics

MSc in Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors

Master in Nuclear Energy (EIT InnoEnergy)

  • Get Experience

The majority of people working in this field have experience working with reactors. They have been exposed to radioactive materials and have had safety issues. Therefore, if you want to work in this field, have some experience working with reactors.

Nuclear power plants are extensive facilities that require specialized skills to operate safely and efficiently. Candidates should have experience working in nuclear power plants. Some examples include being a reactor operator, quality assurance technician, or maintenance supervisor.

  • Get License

To become a licensed nuclear engineer, you will require at least a bachelor’s degree. You can’t ignore this part if you are serious about building a career in the field. As a licensed nuclear engineer, you will become more competitive in the job market and can land a lucrative position relevant to your study of focus.

Salary of Nuclear Engineer

Nuclear engineering has long been associated with lucrative careers and substantial paydays. If you have a bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Engineering and want to earn even more money, you could also consider pursuing higher education and earning your master’s degree in the same field. This will increase your chances of landing a great job offer. 

The average base salary of a nuclear engineer in the USA is $89,401/year, with an average annual base salary margin of  $66k - $143k per year.


Average Annual Income of Nuclear Engineer



United Kingdom













2,240,000 NPR 






193,000 PLN

Advantages and Disadvantages of Becoming a Nuclear Engineer


  • A career that comes with a high salary
  • Competitive working environment with different benefit programs as per qualification.
  • Many job opportunities after a degree include working at power plants, research labs, and teaching.
  • You can travel a lot; many engineers travel worldwide to help wherever their services are needed.
  • An opportunity to contribute to global health and develop technologies that protect the environment and human health. 
  • Chances of leaving a mark that might change human history.
  • It is a well-respected and one of the top-demanded professions across the world. 


  • Radiation one of the most significant risks of this career path is radiation exposure. 
  • Many nuclear engineers work overtime for long hours because their employers need them to complete projects on time.
  • Noisy workplace. There's always something going on at a nuclear power plant. Whether testing, maintenance, or routine stuff, you will never get a break from the noise.

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Career as a Nuclear Engineer

After a degree in nuclear engineering, the career path is pretty straightforward; you can work for nuclear plants, energy companies, research & development, or even commence your profession as a consultant or professor. 

Here are a few sectors and job positions you can contribute to after your degree in nuclear engineering:


  • Power Plants
  • Medicine 
  • Military
  • Manufacturer
  • Laboratories
  • Non-Nuclear Companies
  • Firms
  • Research and Development Centres

Job Titles:

  • Atomic Process Engineers
  • System Engineers
  • Nuclear Radiation Engineers
  • Radiation Engineers
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Reactor Engineers 
  • Reactor Projects Engineers
  • Test Engineer
  • Nuclear Supply System Engineers
  • Software Engineer
  • Nuclear Analyst
  • Maintenance Technicians
  • Service Technicians
  • Health and Physics Technicians
  • Design Engineers
  • Systems Administrator
  • Nuclear Consultant
  • Nuclear Professor 

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FAQ Related to ‘How to Become Nuclear Engineer’?

How many years does it take to be a Nuclear Engineer?

You need to finish your undergraduate degree at least to become a nuclear engineer, which lasts for 4-years. Graduate and post-graduate degrees will be an additional 2-2 years. 

Is Nuclear Engineering a good career choice?

According to statistics, nuclear engineering makes well above most employees of other professions. Besides having a higher average salary, nuclear engineers can earn more with relevant experience and contributions to the field. 

Is Nuclear Engineering complex?

Compared to other attention-to-detail programs, nuclear engineering is relatively complex. A particular mishap or miscalculation can create issues on a larger scale, so it is among the most challenging degree programs in the world. 

Is Nuclear Engineering safe?

The nuclear profession isn’t different from other science fields; although you will be handling dangerous materials, you will operate in a tightly controlled setting following safety measures.

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