Engineering - Nuclear School Leaver Jobs - Careers Guide

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Did you know that the world's first commercial nuclear power station was right here in the UK? Calder Hall operated from 1957-2003, so the UK has had the perfect opportunity to develop state-of-the-art training in nuclear engineering. What are you waiting for?Nuclear engineering

Nuclear energy is a hot subject in headlines about combating climate change; right now, about 20% of the UK's electricity comes from nuclear plants. You could be a part of the industry in a number of ways – you can design nuclear power plants and machinery used in them, research and develop ways to dispose of nuclear waste, working in the plant itself to monitor processes, or decommissioning a nuclear system.

You can also use your nuclear energy knowledge to work in defence, developing nuclear-powered machines used by branches of the military.

What’s it all about?TOP ^

If you want help deciding what and where to study, www.nuclearliaison.com is the place to go. You'll find a list of classes and degrees, as well as news about the latest research. The National Skills Academy Nuclear is another great resource for info on apprenticeships, qualifications and degrees.

The kind of hours you'll work depends on which part of the nuclear industry you end up in. You might have rotating shifts at a power station, or work varying hours in a research lab based on what you're testing. The work demands accuracy and full attention, so you'll need to know your job inside and out, but that's what all the training is for.

What will I earn? TOP ^

Graduate trainees tend to earn around £20,000, but this increase to over £40,000 as you gain experience.

Where can I work? TOP ^

In order to get into nuclear engineering you will need a university degree. The degree can be in nuclear engineering itself, or in another form of engineering (like chemical or mechanical) that has a nuclear focus. To get into one of these programmes, you'll need at least five GCSEs at grade C or higher (make sure this includes Maths and English), and at least three A Levels at B or higher in Maths and a science.

You can also find apprenticeships and qualifications for technical jobs in the nuclear industry at www.nuclear.nsacademy.co.uk.
Nuclear engineers will normally find employment in nuclear energy, power plants or in the Ministry of Defence.

What skills will I need for nuclear engineering? TOP ^

Apart from a keen interest in science, you'll need a natural attention to detail and stellar organisational skills. Good leadership and multitasking will allow you to manage more people and projects, meaning you can move up the ladder into senior positions.
Nuclear engineers need to be excellent problem solvers, calm under pressure and be excellent planners.

As you will be involved in the safety and running of nuclear power stations, you will need to be aware of health and safety issues and be up to date with procedures.

Some skills that would be useful for a graduate nuclear engineering role include:

What entry level nuclear engineering jobs can I do? TOP ^

Unsurprisingly, nuclear engineering is not the sort of job you can do without being highly qualified. Consequently, school leavers will need to get an appropriate degree and further qualifications before they can enter the industry.

Some entry level nuclear engineering jobs include:

  • Nuclear design engineer
  • Nuclear maintenance technician
  • Radiation protection adviser
  • Nuclear project engineer
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