What Do Nuclear Technicians Do?
Nuclear Technicians are responsible for assisting nuclear scientists and engineers with their work. This includes production and laboratory settings, as well as reactors. Nuclear technicians may take radiation readings, operate machinery, do research, or provide quality control. They help scientists do their very important work, which makes nuclear technicians important as well.
Nuclear Technicians Skills and Abilities
Most importantly, nuclear technicians need to have an understanding of physics and other relevant sciences. The laws, interrelationships, principles, and applications in this field are vital to daily operation. Secondly, mechanical skills are very beneficial because nuclear technicians frequently operate machinery. Next, experience with public safety can go a long way in this field. Having a strong understanding of the practices to keep yourself and others safe while working in a dangerous field is very appealing. Finally, engineering and technology knowledge, in addition to critical thinking, active listening, and communication skills will round out a nuclear technician’s abilities.
Nuclear Technicians Duties
The duties of a nuclear technician include:
- Monitor machinery and instruments
- Operate equipment
- Perform tests
- Make calculations
- Follow policies and procedures
- Analyze data
- Warn workers of radiation dangers
In addition to the specific duties listed here, nuclear technicians need to be prepared for any jobs that the scientists and engineers may expect. For this reason, it can be difficult to predict what to expect when working as a nuclear technician.
Nuclear Technicians Tools and Technology
There are a couple common tools that nuclear technicians should expect to use on a daily basis. Others may be necessary depending on the specific work that is being done. Common tools include:
- Frequency analyzers and digital spectrum analyzers
- Area gamma monitors and scintillation detectors
- Radiation detectors, including, digital rate meters, contamination probes gamma exit/entrance contamination monitors, radiation survey meters, and portal monitors
- Ultrasonic examination equipment
Nuclear technicians should also be experienced with computers and may use certain software during their work.
Education and Training for Nuclear Technicians
The majority of currently employed nuclear technicians either started working with only a high school diploma, or had some college experience but never earned a degree. This group makes up about 50% of nuclear technicians. Those that choose this path are counting on gaining direct experience to allow them to move up. Moderate training is also provided upon being hired. Another 35% of technicians have a college degree, most of which have a Bachelor’s degree. Additionally, about 7% have a Master’s degree. Very few nuclear technicians did not earn a high school diploma.
Nuclear Technicians Salary
The annual salary of nuclear technicians is very high. Despite being a secondary position, they still earn $75,000 each year on average. The lowest paid nuclear technicians still earn an average just under $50,000 annually. The top 10% earns about $100,000, but some states, such as Washington and California, see some nuclear technicians earn as much as $130,000 each year. It is important to take your geographic location into consideration when looking for work as a nuclear technician.
Nuclear Technicians Jobs by Geography
There is not very much information about employment rates for nuclear technicians by geographic location, which means local research may be necessary. Surprisingly, South Carolina is one of the most significant states for nuclear technicians. Despite currently having more than 1,100 technician positions, South Carolina is expected to increase this number by 26% in the coming years. For reference, the average for the entire United States is predicted to increase by about 15%. Very few states are anticipated to see employment rates decrease, but many are expected to remain constant. Regardless of where you live, be sure to get as much information as possible before beginning work.