Nuclear engineers research and develop the processes, instruments, and systems used to derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation. Many of these engineers find industrial and medical uses for radioactive materials—for example, in equipment used in medical diagnosis and treatment.
Nuclear engineers typically work in offices; however, their work setting varies with the industry in which they are employed. Most nuclear engineers work full time.
How to Become a Nuclear Engineer
Nuclear engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering. Employers also value experience, and this can be gained through cooperative-education engineering programs.
Employment of nuclear engineers is projected to decline 4 percent from 2014 to 2024. Employment in several of the industries that employ nuclear engineers is projected to decline, including electric power distribution, research and development in engineering, and the federal government.
This occupation supported 20,400 jobs in 2012 and 16,800 jobs in 2014, reflecting a decline of 17.6%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 9.3% in 2022 to 22,300 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 20,700, compared with an observed value of 16,800, 18.8% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to decrease by 2.9% in 2024 to 16,200 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 22,600 jobs for 2024, 39.5% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.