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Top 3 Career Opportunities in the Nuclear Energy Industry

Top 3 Career Opportunities in the Nuclear Energy Industry

calendar21 April 2022

Energy production has hit a critical breaking point. 

Following news that fossil fuel reserves namely oil and gas will run out in this century, governments and global organisations alike have had to join a political and economic war for resources, driving prices up for businesses and household consumers in the UK.

  • Petrol is 16p more expensive per litre than last month.
  • Diesel is 24p more expensive per litre than last month. 
  • Regulatory caps on electricity and gas have risen by an average of £693 per year to £1,971 per year (Source: Ofcom).

This crisis seems to be drawing attention and funding away from what matters: investment into greener renewable energies to secure Earth’s future. 

In response to growing environmental and energy concerns, The United Nations Climate Change Act was designed to force governments to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

As of 2022, the UK has budgeted £285 million a year to split between offshore wind projects and “emerging technologies” (Source: Gov UK). Despite FDI, innovation, and the continued adoption of green energy, the future of the market is filled with uncertainty.

(Source: Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC).

The State of Renewable Energy

As of last year, nearly 28% of the world’s annual energy production comes from renewable sources (Source: IEA). This is predominantly split between hydropower facilities in countries like Canada, China and the United States, wind farm projects in the UK and wider Europe (which produce 90% of global wind energy according to the World Nuclear Association), and solar energy in Australia. 

Other emerging technologies, such as ones that utilize ocean thermal movements, contribute to a promising decrease in our reliability of fossil fuels - but still, the energy market has a long way to come. When nuclear power was first invented in 1942 (Source: National Geographic), it appeared to be the long-awaited solution to maintaining mankind’s quality of life whilst reducing climate change.

However, when the Chernobyl power plant ruptured in 1986, nuclear energy production came to a halt. Although the accident was attributed to poor design and lack of safety measurements, the devastation it left behind was immense: destroying the landscape, immediately killing 30 people, and inducing long-term health tragedies in 60 more (Source: World Nuclear).

Nuclear Energy in 2022

Despite ethical concerns regarding nuclear energy, technological advancements done by engineers and data analysts alike have ensured the safety of workers and nearby residents and allowed construction to resume. Today, 100 power reactors are entering the construction phase, with an additional 300 nuclear power generation plants already proposed for governmental approval (Source: World Nuclear Association). This will double the 440 nuclear power plant facilities that already operate across 32 countries, providing at least another 2553 TWh (or about 10% of the world's electricity).

(Source: Engineering Choice).

Careers in Nuclear Energy 

As more plants are developed alongside the requirement for increased decommissioning of older generation reactors, nuclear career opportunities in nuclear energy are set to boom. Just look at the stats (Source: Nuclear Energy Institute):

  • Nuclear power plants employ approximately 500-800 workers.
  • New nuclear power plants operate for 80 years or more.
  • Nuclear power reactors require roughly 7,000 workers during construction.
  • Nuclear worker salaries are 50% higher than other energy positions.

This will secure thousands of competitive and unique nuclear power jobs positions for employees already working in energy, whilst also creating opportunities for STEM graduates and skilled tradespeople.

(Source: Nuclear Energy Institute)

The Benefits of Working in Nuclear Energy

Nuclear or atomic energy is an attractive employment market for people with strong ethical values and beliefs. The Good Energy Collective discovered that “power plants provide the type of high-quality, well-paid employment that unions seek”. We’re already seeing evidence of new hires receiving above-average levels of intense training to ensure a successful and progressive career in nuclear energy. Those that transition from other sectors into long-term employees are benefiting from a sense of pride and self-satisfaction to be influencing the renewable solutions of the future. ​

The Top 3 Nuclear Career Paths in Nuclear Energy

Anyone considering transitioning into nuclear energy from another career or straight from education has a decision to make: matching their skills to a suitable job opening or position. Whilst specialist recruiters like EarthStream can help with this, we’ve also compiled viable career paths to point experienced energy talent in the right direction.

1. Nuclear Engineers

Nuclear engineering is an application needed across a range of developing sectors, where experts require high flexibility and willingness to learn. 

As nuclear technologies continue to evolve, rewarding engineer job positions can be scored in power plants, transport services (submarines, rockets, and planes), refineries, storage facilities, nuclear waste and, more recently, SMRs. This guarantees a long-term career choice for entry talent into the industry.

Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

High demand is driving average salary rates for electrical and mechanical engineers to around £47,000... a rate that is only predicted to grow (Source: Glassdoor). Technology development guarantees career advancement for holders of a bachelor's degree accredited by the ABET. The top 10% of earners may find themselves bringing home over £110,000 per year (Source: Get Into Nuclear).

Other positions include the following, which have average salary rates of £52,500 and attractive bonuses of around £7,000 (Source: Jobted). 

  • Commercial Engineers: The nuclear sector is heavily reliant on industrial processes, such as manufacturing and designing that fall under commercial engineers' responsibilities. 
  • Commissioning/De-Commissioning Engineers: One of the most important roles during a plant’s 7 years of construction is for commissions engineers to inspect equipment and ensure safety features have been installed correctly.
  • Planners and Scheduling Engineers: With 400 facilities in the pipeline for development, scheduling engineers will need to ensure the proper coordination of equipment and materials as available resources dwindle.
  • Control & Instrument Engineers: Continuous maintenance of equipment is vital to the success of the nuclear sector. The instruments designed by C&I Engineers would reduce the risk of events like Chernobyl occurring again.
  • Radiation and Shielding Engineers: Theoretical analysis of the effects of radiation can help the nuclear sector predict issues and move to prevent them, securing the livelihood of local populations - both from leaks/issues and from sudden lack of electricity.
  • Reactor Operation/Control Room Engineers: Plant safety wouldn’t be possible without the control room engineers controlling the equipment responsible for converting Uranium into power.

2. Nuclear Scientists

Scientists are in-demand across both fusion and fission elements of nuclear energy and can engage in challenging work in research facilities like JET or Sellafield as well as safety positions across nuclear technologies. 

Nuclear Physicist

Entry-level nuclear physicists receive average UK salaries of £40,000, increasing to £64,000 with 10 years of experience (Source: Payscale). Work has proven challenging yet engaging and allows employees to follow their passions. Nuclear physicists are typically offered training in relevant coding languages, allowing them to gain new skills and advance up the career ladder with appealing salaries and benefits. 

Nuclear Chemist

The average gross salary rate for an entry-level nuclear chemist position is roughly £30,000, which progresses up to £80,000 a year as you continue to learn and develop on the job. Nuclear chemists conduct investigations and analyse data and can expect to work across areas including molten salt, gas, and lead reactors, radiation detection and decontamination, recycling, and vitrification. 

3. Nuclear Software and Data Specialist

Specialists in software and data are focused on making nuclear power more efficient, helping identify and solve weaknesses to cut costs and enhance safety. 

Data Analysts

With nuclear energy continuing to develop, data and technical analysts are vital parts of the overall team. In nuclear energy, they benefit from a salary range of £48,000 on average or £86,000 in their late career. Nuclear data analysts have the chance to work with a range of big names in the energy sector, setting the foundation for an exciting and rewarding career. 

Software Engineers

In the information technology space, computer software in nuclear energy needs to be proactive and reactive, adjusting to the rising RPA demands of various energy sectors. Software engineers are needed across pre-established plants and new construction projects, providing opportunities for skilled talent to work with world-leading employers. Salary rates for beginner engineers go from £30,000 up to over £65,000 according to experience.

Finding Nuclear Energy Jobs With EarthStream

The nuclear industry is always changing - offering a wide variety of permanent and contract job vacancies for engineers, field technicians, technical operatives, security consultants, construction personnel, reactor operators, decommission specialists, leadership and more.

As one of the leading nuclear recruiting agencies working with Government, Universities, Nuclear Power Stations and specialist company consultancies, EarthStream connects qualified and entry-level talent with engaging and challenging nuclear energy job occupations around the world. As governments invest in sustainable power, infrastructures and technologies, your career path becomes increasingly limitless. Our in-depth knowledge and worldwide connections mean we not only understand your problems, but also solve them. 

Speak to one of our experts today.

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