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Career in Nuclear Engineering

Who is a nuclear engineer?

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. Many others specialize in the development of nuclear power sources for ships or spacecraft.

What does a nuclear engineer do?

As a nuclear engineer you'll be designing, building, running or decommissioning nuclear power stations. You'll work in multi-disciplinary teams to come up with technical solutions.

Depending on your role you could be designing totally new systems, maintaining existing systems or looking for ways to improve the efficiency, stability and sustainability of nuclear power plants.

Decommissioning (shutting down) facilities is also an important task, as is planning and carrying out safety procedures for the transport, storage and disposal of the radioactive material used in nuclear plants

Types of nuclear engineers

You can choose to specialise in just one part of the engineering field. For example, some reactors are cooled using water systems, so you could embark on a career as a specialist hydraulic engineer. Chemical, electrical and mechanical engineers can all find a place in the nuclear industry.

Other specialties include:

  • health and safety specialist

  • instrumentation and control engineer

  • process engineer

  • project manager

  • quality engineer

  • reactor operator.

Duties and responsibilities of a nuclear engineer

Nuclear engineers typically do the following:

  • Design or develop nuclear equipment, such as reactor cores, radiation shielding, and associated instrumentation

  • Direct operating or maintenance activities of operational nuclear powerplants to ensure that they meet safety standards

  • Write operational instructions to be used in nuclear plant operation or in handling and disposing of nuclear waste

  • Monitor nuclear facility operations to identify any design, construction, or operation practices that violate safety regulations and laws

  • Perform experiments to test whether methods of using nuclear material, reclaiming nuclear fuel, or disposing of nuclear waste are acceptable

  • Take corrective actions or order plant shutdowns in emergencies

  • Examine nuclear accidents and gather data that can be used to design preventive measures

What is a workplace of a nuclear engineer like?

They typically work in offices. However, their work setting varies with the industry in which they are employed. For example, those employed in power generation and supply work in powerplants. Many also work in National Laboratories operated by the Department of Energy, and in consulting firms.

How can one become a nuclear engineer?

Step 1

Eligible candidates have to appear in the entrance tests conducted by various state Universities ( like PU, KU, Delhi University etc) of the state, Central Govt Organizations and independent institution (like IIT’s, BITS Pilani etc) present at various places in the India. Candidate get admission into these colleges for four-year degree Programme according to their merit in the examination taken and a stream of their interest as selected by them.

Step 2

After successful completion degree course and completion of the required training, the candidate is ready to join Government, Semi Government or Privates sector as Assistant nuclear Engineer.

As another option one can opt of higher qualification as Master in Nuclear Engineering or related subjects followed by PhD Nuclear Engineering and can go for research work or for academics. It all depends upon once priorities in their life.

Skills and interests required

Nuclear engineers typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a nuclear engineer, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Nuclear engineers should also possess the following specific qualities:

Analytical skills. Nuclear engineers must be able to identify design elements to help build facilities and equipment that produce material needed by various industries.

Communication skills. Nuclear engineers’ work depends heavily on their ability to work with other professional engineers and technicians. They need to be able to communicate effectively, both in writing and face to face, with technicians and engineers from other fields.

Detail oriented. Nuclear engineers supervise the operation of nuclear facilities. They must pay close attention to what is happening at all times, and ensure that operations comply with all regulations and laws pertaining to the safety of workers and the environment.

Logical-thinking skills. Nuclear engineers design complex systems. Therefore, they must be able to order information logically and clearly so that others can follow their written information and instructions.

Math skills. Nuclear engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Because of the potential hazard posed by nuclear materials and by accidents at facilities, nuclear engineers must be able to anticipate problems before they occur and suggest remedies

Career prospect

Career prospects for Nuclear Engineers are quite bright as there are so many new nuclear power plants coming up in various parts of the country. Besides they can also get employment in various laboratory and research centres working in the field of nuclear medicine


Nuclear Engineer with a degree in the private sector can get anywhere near Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 40,000 as a starter and can go anywhere as high as Rs. 1,00,000 per month with experience and ability in their organization. Whereas in public sector like in Nuclear Power Plants and Research and Analysis wing of Government they are suitably compensated for little lesser pay packages by other perks and allowances in addition to housing facilities, medical expenses as well as free/concessional air passages for their immediate family members and dependents (as LTC) above all the status attached with the Government sector posts.

Colleges for nuclear engineering in India

Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University

IIT Bombay

IIT Kanpur

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre Mumbai

Homi Bhabha National Institute Mumbai

GH Raisoni College of Engineering Nagpur

School of Nuclear Energy Gandhinagar

Amity Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology Noida

IIT Madras

Sastra University

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