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Career profile Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

Also known as Licensed Reactor Operator, Nuclear Control Operator, Nuclear Control Room Operator, Nuclear Plant Operator (NPO), Nuclear Power Reactor Operator, Nuclear Reactor Operator, Nuclear Station Operator (NSO), Nuclear Supervising Operator (NSO), Nuclear Unit Operator, Reactor Operator (RO)

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

Also known as Licensed Reactor Operator, Nuclear Control Operator, Nuclear Control Room Operator

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$76,360 - $133,170 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
Knowledge Areas
  • Physics
  • Mechanical
  • Public Safety and Security
Core tasks
  • Operate nuclear power reactors in accordance with policies and procedures to protect workers from radiation and to ensure environmental safety.
  • Adjust controls to position rod and to regulate flux level, reactor period, coolant temperature, or rate of power flow, following standard procedures.
  • Develop or implement actions such as lockouts, tagouts, or clearances to allow equipment to be safely repaired.
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What does a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator do?

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators operate or control nuclear reactors.

In addition, Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

  • move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, and record data in logs,
  • implement emergency procedures when needed,
  • may respond to abnormalities, determine cause, and recommend corrective action.

What kind of tasks does a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator perform regularly?

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Operate nuclear power reactors in accordance with policies and procedures to protect workers from radiation and to ensure environmental safety.
  • Adjust controls to position rod and to regulate flux level, reactor period, coolant temperature, or rate of power flow, following standard procedures.
  • Develop or implement actions such as lockouts, tagouts, or clearances to allow equipment to be safely repaired.
  • Respond to system or unit abnormalities, diagnosing the cause, and recommending or taking corrective action.
  • Monitor all systems for normal running conditions, performing activities such as checking gauges to assess output or the effects of generator loading on other equipment.
  • Monitor or operate boilers, turbines, wells, or auxiliary power plant equipment.
  • Record operating data, such as the results of surveillance tests.
  • Implement operational procedures, such as those controlling start-up or shut-down activities.
  • Note malfunctions of equipment, instruments, or controls and report these conditions to supervisors.
  • Participate in nuclear fuel element handling activities, such as preparation, transfer, loading, or unloading.
  • Dispatch orders or instructions to personnel through radiotelephone or intercommunication systems to coordinate auxiliary equipment operation.
  • Review and edit standard operating procedures.
  • Conduct inspections or operations outside of control rooms as necessary.

The above responsibilities are specific to Nuclear Power Reactor Operators. More generally, Nuclear Power Reactor Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

What is a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator salary?

The median salary for a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator is $104,040, and the average salary is $104,470. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Nuclear Power Reactor Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Nuclear Power Reactor Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Nuclear Power Reactor Operators earn less than $76,360 per year, 25% earn less than $90,600, 75% earn less than $121,120, and 90% earn less than $133,170.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Nuclear Power Reactor Operators is expected to change by -32.1%, and there should be roughly 200 open positions for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators every year.

Median annual salary
$104,040
Typical salary range
$76,360 - $133,170
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
-32.1%

What personality traits are common among Nuclear Power Reactor Operators?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Nuclear Power Reactor Operators typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator tend to value Support, Working Conditions, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Nuclear Power Reactor Operators very strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Nuclear Power Reactor Operators moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Nuclear Power Reactor Operators moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Nuclear Power Reactor Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Nuclear Power Reactor Operators, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

What education and training do Nuclear Power Reactor Operators need?

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

  • 1.9% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 30.3% completed high school or secondary school
  • 30.3% completed some college coursework
  • 18.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 16.3% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 2.5% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as physics, mechanical, or public safety and security knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Nuclear Power Reactor Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Physics
Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.
Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

Important Abilities needed by Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Nuclear Power Reactor Operators need abilities such as problem sensitivity, oral comprehension, and written comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

Critical Skills needed by Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators frequently use skills like reading comprehension, operations monitoring, and operation and control to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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