Nuclear Engineering

by: Colin Whitaker

What Exactly Is Nuclear Engineering?

While the maintenance of systems and components in nuclear power plants and reactors is the most common idea of nuclear engineers, nuclear engineering is more than just workers in hard hats at a nuclear power plant. The field of nuclear engineering is concerned with the fission and fusion of atoms as well as all things related to that. From waste disposal, to medical uses (radiation therapy), to nuclear fuel, and nuclear safety.

Typical Work Day

Depending on the profession you choose, your work day can revolve around researching things like optimizing nuclear fuel use, nuclear physics or medicine, or nuclear safety, but it can also be maintaining the systems of a nuclear reactor.

Starting Salary & Potential

The median average salary for a nuclear engineer with only a bachelor's degree and 0-2 years working experience in the field is $67,928, or about $33.96 an hour, but many colleges offer 5 or 6 year master's programs integrated with work so you can come right out of college with working experience and a higher degree. There is large room for improvement in the salary of a nuclear engineer. The more experience you have in your job, the more you'll make.

Eductaion Requirements

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. Most colleges will offer a 4-year bachelor program accredited by ABET, but some also offer a 5 or 6 year master program.