Nuclear power has long been a major provider of electricity in the United States. In fact, about 20% of the electricity we use comes from nuclear power. A huge benefit to nuclear power is that it provides extremely reliable and predictable base load power. This has led many high school seniors and freshman in college to begin looking into the nuclear power industry as a career option. So, what are the top five STEM-related careers in the nuclear energy industry?
- Nuclear Physicist
- Nuclear Missile Silo Operator
- Nuclear Power Plant Operator
- Nuclear Chemist
- Nuclear Engineer
A nuclear physicist is in charge of studying the way that various radioactive materials work and attempt to discover more ways to generate electricity from nuclear material. If they are able to more efficiently utilize the fuel, then more electricity can be generated for less. Additionally, a physicist will make sure that existing power plant fuel is operating within safe measurements. A high-ranking nuclear physicist should expect to have a PhD from an accredited University making up to $112,000 per year.
Nuclear Missile Silo Operator
All over the United States are nuclear silos which require operators to man them around the clock in case the call should ever come in to deploy them. While this job is usually described as a bit mundane, it could not be more important to our overall national security. Most nuclear missile silo operators have a high school degree and military background with a focus in the nuclear arsenal. A nuclear missile silo operator can expect make around $55,000 per year.
Nuclear Power Plant Operator
The main way that a nuclear power plant generates electricity is by dropping rods of nuclear material into water which then cause this water to boil and turn into steam. This high quality steam is then used to turn a turbine which generates electricity. A nuclear power plant operator is in charge of making sure that these rods go in and come out of the water at safe intervals. Most nuclear power plant operators require a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from a four-year accredited University. A nuclear power plant operator can expect to bring in an average salary of $78,000 per year.
Nuclear chemists can employee their skills in a variety of jobs. They may study the way nuclear fuel reacts over time so that nuclear reactors can more safely and efficiently generate power for consumers. Additionally, they can study the impact nuclear material has on humans. Most nuclear chemists hold at least a Master’s degree and can expect to make an average salary of $78,000 per year.
A nuclear engineer is in charge of designing any and all systems that have to do with radiation or nuclear power. This includes nuclear reactors, x-ray machines, and machines used to treat cancer in medical patients. While a nuclear engineer only requires a bachelor’s degree to enter the field, most upper level nuclear engineers have earned a PhD. A nuclear engineer can expect to earn over $100,000 just a few years into their career.