What Does a Nuclear Technician Do?
If you’re interested in science and technology, then consider becoming a nuclear technician. These technicians typically work in nuclear energy production or assist in nuclear research.
Technicians ensure nuclear reactors and other equipment are operated safely and efficiently. They monitor the levels of radiation produced. They also may repair and maintain equipment used at the facility.
Other duties depend on the kind of facility where a technician works. Operating technicians monitor the performance of nuclear power plant systems. Radiation protection technicians monitor levels of radiation contamination to protect personnel in the facility and the surrounding area. Some nuclear technicians work in laboratories. They help engineers and scientists conduct research and develop new types of reactors, fuels, medicines and other technologies.
Night, holiday and weekend work may be required for those who work in power production.
- Monitor the performance of nuclear reactors and other equipment
- Measure the levels and types of radiation produced
- Operate and maintain radiation monitoring equipment
- Collect samples of air, water and soil and test for radioactive contamination
- Follow safety procedures and instruct other personnel on radiation safety
A high school diploma or equivalent is required, but most employers look for an associate degree in nuclear science or nuclear technology.
Many community colleges and technical schools offer such programs. Coursework includes nuclear physics, chemistry, electricity, radiation and mathematics.
Some technicians gain equivalent experience through the military. Because of the nature of the work, most jobs require a background check and security clearance.
All technicians get extensive on-the-job training, including equipment operation and safety procedures. Most training programs last between six months and two years, but those without the recommended education or experience will have longer training.
Certification is not required but it is recommended. Continuing education is common throughout a technician’s career to keep up with changes in technology.
- Have excellent communications skills
- Have good computer skills
- Are good at analysis and critical thinking
- Excel at math and science and have a strong mechanical aptitude
- Are highly safety-conscious