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Career profile Nuclear Technician

Also known as Auxiliary Operator, Equipment Operator, Licensed Nuclear Operator, Non-Licensed Nuclear Equipment Operator (NLO), Non-Licensed Nuclear Plant Operator (NLO), Nuclear Auxiliary Operator, Nuclear Equipment Operator (NEO), Nuclear Plant Equipment Operator (NAPEO), Operations Technician, Systems Operator

Nuclear Technician

Also known as Auxiliary Operator, Equipment Operator, Licensed Nuclear Operator

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$53,570 - $116,680 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Monitoring
  • Operations Monitoring
Knowledge Areas
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Mechanical
  • Physics
Core tasks
  • Determine or recommend radioactive decontamination procedures, according to the size and nature of equipment and the degree of contamination.
  • Set up equipment that automatically detects area radiation deviations and test detection equipment to ensure its accuracy.
  • Follow nuclear equipment operational policies and procedures that ensure environmental safety.
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What does a Nuclear Technician do?

Nuclear Technicians assist nuclear physicists, nuclear engineers, or other scientists in laboratory, power generation, or electricity production activities.

In addition, Nuclear Technicians

  • may operate, maintain, or provide quality control for nuclear testing and research equipment,
  • may monitor radiation.

What kind of tasks does a Nuclear Technician perform regularly?

Nuclear Technicians are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Follow nuclear equipment operational policies and procedures that ensure environmental safety.
  • Conduct surveillance testing to determine safety of nuclear equipment.
  • Monitor nuclear reactor equipment performance to identify operational inefficiencies, hazards, or needs for maintenance or repair.
  • Test plant equipment to ensure it is operating properly.
  • Apply safety tags to equipment needing maintenance.
  • Follow policies and procedures for radiation workers to ensure personnel safety.
  • Modify, devise, or maintain nuclear equipment used in operations.

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

Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is a Nuclear Technician salary?

The median salary for a Nuclear Technician is $84,190, and the average salary is $83,810. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Nuclear Technician salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Nuclear Technicians earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Nuclear Technicians earn less than $53,570 per year, 25% earn less than $65,650, 75% earn less than $100,260, and 90% earn less than $116,680.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Nuclear Technicians is expected to change by -12.1%, and there should be roughly 700 open positions for Nuclear Technicians every year.

Median annual salary
$84,190
Typical salary range
$53,570 - $116,680
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
-12.1%

What personality traits are common among Nuclear Technicians?

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 Technician are usually higher in their Realistic, Conventional, and Investigative interests.

Nuclear Technicians 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 Technicians typically have strong 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.

Lastly, Nuclear Technicians typically have strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

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 Technician tend to value Support, Working Conditions, and Relationships.

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

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

Lastly, Nuclear Technicians moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

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 Technicians must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Nuclear Technicians, 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.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

What education and training do Nuclear Technicians need?

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

Nuclear Technicians 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 Technicians

  • 2.3% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 20.6% completed high school or secondary school
  • 21.4% completed some college coursework
  • 12.5% earned a Associate's degree
  • 34.0% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 7.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Nuclear Technicians

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

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

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.
Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
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.
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.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Nuclear Technicians

Nuclear Technicians 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 Technicians need abilities such as deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, and information ordering in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Nuclear Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
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).
Perceptual Speed
The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Critical Skills needed by Nuclear Technicians

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 Technicians frequently use skills like active listening, monitoring, and operations monitoring to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Nuclear Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

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.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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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