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How to Become a Nuclear Engineer

Kundan Pandey
Are you excited about nuclear physics? Do you find nuclear engineering interesting? If yes, then you'll be delighted to pursue nuclear engineering that offers numerous opportunities to make a successful career in nuclear science field.
Most of the developed nations are now heavily relying on nuclear power for their energy needs and it is said that within few decades, as natural resources are depleting faster, we will be left with no choice but to harness solar or nuclear power. This has further bolstered the growth of nuclear physics and nuclear engineering.
Nuclear engineers apply their education, research, scientific principles, mathematics, judgment and analysis to make nuclear technology more beneficial, economical and productive for us. The past couple of decades have seen dramatic growth in nuclear engineering field. The demand for a talented nuclear engineers is all set to increase in the coming years.
If you're a science student who has always been deeply interested in deciphering the mystery behind atomic and molecular physics, with a penchant to convert the knowledge gained into practical applications, you can find an extremely rewarding career as a nuclear engineer.

Education Required to Be a Nuclear Engineer

To make dreams of becoming a nuclear engineer come true, take efforts since you are in high school. Opt for science subjects and diligently pursue them. Mastering basics of physics, chemistry and mathematics is important to understand these subjects in later years of life. During your graduation years, you have to complete a four years engineering course.
The choice of degree or subjects can be mechanical or chemical engineering or physics. Studying mechanical or chemical engineering in graduation exposes students to detailed study of engineering principles. Many institutes promote nuclear engineering specializations, however, the trend is to study mechanical/chemical as the scope for these fields is wide.
Moreover, research oriented studies in nuclear engineering can also be done in post graduation years. In advanced degrees, like the post graduation, an individual can choose nuclear engineering courses and specializations.
Pursuing masters in engineering branches like mechanical or chemical won't do any harm, as the scope of nuclear engineering is wide and entering in it from other engineering streams is relatively easy. Still, studying nuclear, mechanical or chemical engineering is cited to be most beneficial as the courses are closer to nuclear physics and its applications.
After a master's degree, going for doctoral programs strictly dedicated to core aspects of nuclear technology or engineering is essential as most of the jobs in this field are awarded to candidates with excellent educational profile and experience in the same field.
All states in US require licensing for becoming professional nuclear engineers, as it is a very responsible position and carelessness from the part of nuclear engineers can lead to significant loss of life and property besides posing health risks.
It takes years of education to be a nuclear engineering professional. Nearly 4 years bachelor's degree, 2 years masters and 3 to 6 years of doctoral research is needed to establish oneself in this field. However, a 4 years bachelor's degree in physics, nuclear, mechanical and chemical engineering can get you a nuclear engineer's job at entry-level position.

License Requirements

Almost all states in the US require nuclear engineers to obtain licenses and that is given only after four years of work experience in the nuclear technology field. Moreover, you must have a bachelor's degree as per the requirements of the state.

Skill Sets

To become a nuclear engineer, one needs to have deep interest in research and study of nuclear technology. Engineering aspirants must have a visionary approach to invent various technologies related to nuclear energy for improving our lifestyle and propelling growth. Use of nuclear technology has paved the way for treatment of various medical conditions.
Similarly, by harnessing the power of nuclear energy in nuclear power plants, electricity is produced in most of the countries. Nearly 20% of the electricity in USA is produced by nuclear energy.
Nuclear engineers must have immense concentration power as they're expected to work for long hours in research work. At nuclear power plants, nuclear engineers work on various designations and roles.
Working in high risk areas, under the threat of radiation exposure, nuclear engineers work for improving nuclear technology so that energy crisis issues can be solved. As nuclear research stations and nuclear power plants are extremely sensitive areas, nuclear engineers have to work very carefully at every step.
Millions of lives residing in the area around nuclear power plants are under the constant threat of radiation exposure and even a small error can often cause monumental losses. That is why, the job of nuclear engineers demands complete focus and concentration.
The given steps will help you to make a career in the field of nuclear engineering and owing to the energy crisis issues that the world is doomed to face in the decades to come, the role of nuclear engineers and nuclear scientists is surely going to assume great significance.
While we don't have many options except to rely on nuclear technology, the threats it poses, as we saw in the recent months in few of the Japanese nuclear power plants, after the natural disaster hit Japan, is certainly a food for thought for the scientific and engineering community.
Safety of nuclear power plants is a challenging issue for nuclear scientists. Are you ready to take up that challenge? Think about it. Wish you all the best!