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Entry-level nuclear engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree. Students interested in studying nuclear engineering should take high school courses in mathematics, such as algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; and science, such as biology, chemistry, and physics. Bachelor's degree programs typically are four-year programs and encompass classroom, laboratory, and field studies in areas that include mathematics and engineering principles. Most colleges and universities offer cooperative-education programs in which students gain experience while completing their education. Some universities offer five-year programs leading to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
A graduate degree allows a nuclear engineer to work as an instructor at a university or engage in research and development. Some five-year or even six-year cooperative-education plans combine classroom study with work, permitting students to gain experience and to finance part of their education.
Nuclear engineers who work for nuclear power plants are not required to be licensed. However, they are eligible to seek licensure as professional engineers. Those who become licensed carry the designation of professional engineer (PE). Licensure is recommended and generally requires the following:
- A degree from an accredited engineering program
- A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
- Relevant work experience
- A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam
Beginning nuclear engineering graduates usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In large companies, new engineers may receive formal training in classrooms or seminars. As beginning nuclear engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move to more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.
Eventually, nuclear engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some may become engineering managers or move into managerial positions or sales work. Nuclear engineers have the background needed to become medical physicists, who work in the relatively new field of nuclear medicine. A master’s degree is necessary for an engineer to enter this field.
What are Nuclear Engineers like?
Based on our pool of users, nuclear engineers tend to be predominately investigative people. Take our career test to see what career interest category best describes you.
Nuclear Engineers by Strongest Interest Archetype
Based on sample of 85 Sokanu users
Are Nuclear Engineers happy?
Nuclear engineers rank among the least happy careers. Overall they rank in the 34th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores.
Nuclear Engineer Career Satisfaction by Dimension
Percentile among all careers
Education History of Nuclear Engineers
The most common degree held by nuclear engineers is Nuclear Engineering. 12% of nuclear engineers had a degree in nuclear engineering before becoming nuclear engineers. That is over 239 times the average across all careers. Mechanical Engineering graduates are the second most common among nuclear engineers, representing 6% of nuclear engineers in the Sokanu user base, which is 3.7 times the average.
Nuclear Engineer Education History
This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Nuclear Engineer, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.
|Degree||% of nuclear engineers||% of population||Multiple|
|Business Management And Administration||4.8%||6.0%||0.8×|
Nuclear Engineer Education Levels
|High school diploma||0%|
How to Become a Nuclear Engineer
How To Become A Nuclear Engineer
Nuclear engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering. Employers also value experience, so cooperative-education engineering programs at universities are also valuable.
Best Nuclear Engineering Schools
Nuclear engineers work with nuclear energy, nuclear waste, medical physics and more. They may also be active in design and nuclear research. These are the top graduate schools for nuclear engineering programs in the USA.