Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Where to Apply
Next to safety, quality within the nuclear industry is of paramount important and in a lot of ways differentiates the UK nuclear industry from many other sectors. In fact, quality is inextricably linked the safety and you will often hear the terms EHSQ, QHSE and other derivatives of Health, Safety, Quality and Environment to designate a single function.
Salary: xxxxx per year
Job Satisfaction: Very High
Transferability: Very High
Job Growth: High
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Job Description
4. Pros and Cons
5. What Is The Job Like
6. Is This Right For Me
7. Related Careers
Next to safety, quality within the nuclear industry is of paramount importance and, in many ways, differentiates the UK atomic industry from many other sectors. Quality has inextricably linked the safety. You will often hear the terms EHSQ, QHSE and other derivatives of Health, Safety, Quality and Environment to designate a single function.
The time, effort, and skills that go into ensuring the quality of anything produced for the industry is the main reason why the costs of projects in the sector have tended to increase, and the duration's extend. This can be analysed in two ways; firstly, there is the need to ensure that quality is inherent in anything that is used in the industry - we do not want to question the integrity of a stainless steel section of a grapple that is carrying a 55te flask that is holding raw nuclear material! Secondly, conversely, the industry of late is being challenged more and more to question some of the onerous quality requirements to reduce lead times and costs of projects.
It should be noted here that none of these challenges is to the detriment of the overall integrity of the solution being provided. Quality is something that the UK Nuclear Industry is world-class and should be very proud of and should never be put into disrepute.
So, what roles are there available in the UK nuclear industry? This is easiest understood by breaking the function down into two distinct areas Quality Assurance and Quality Control.
Quality Assurance Jobs in the UK Nuclear Industry
Roles include Quality Assurance Manager (or just Quality Manager) and derivatives of Quality Engineer. Other key roles include documentation engineer and lift-time quality records clerk.
To give you a flavour, a recent advertisement for a Quality Manager listed the responsibilities of the role as being "able to manage the entire Quality Management lifecycle, leading, training, directing, driving teams of commercial and engineering professionals with the required skills and experience of having a proven QMS background, the experience of implementing risk assessments, HSE, quality and safety-related project plans with a degree in relevant engineering subject with an industry recognised quality accreditation." Sector (nuclear) experience is also listed as crucial here.
Job advertisements such as this may make you feel like running for the hills and is, on many occasions, the reason why many nuclear projects find difficulties when trying to recruit. However, if you break this down, you need a degree and/or relevant quality accreditation(s) with previous experience and knowledge. If you are confident that a manager role is for you, you'll already tick these boxes. The last point of note is the specific nuclear experience - this is covered in a separate post but is assured that this is not a stumbling block to landing the role; if it is, the UK Nuclear Industry will come to a standstill as there is too much work with not enough Suitably Qualified and Experienced People (SQEP) around.
In comparison, a Quality Engineering role advertised at the time of writing is describing the role as one that "works directly for the Quality Manager to analyse customer requirements, review and check quality records for customer end of manufacturing report, the experience of concession management, a compilation of EoMR, creation of MITPs, writing of QAP, manage document submissions to customer." Again reference is made to previous nuclear experience being "ideal".
Not as onerous as requirements as the Quality Manager for apparent reasons and again previous experience doing similar work even in a different industry will put you in with an excellent chance to land the role - do not be put off by the nuclear experience.
Quality Control Jobs in the UK Nuclear Industry
Roles revolve around:
Verifying material certification
Production and approval of Welding Procedures and Welder Qualifications
Inspection during the manufacturing phase and production of supporting documentation
NDT procedure and qualification verification
Final dispatch inspection before releasing of an item
Job advertisements will look for knowledge and experience as required for the above roles and potentially more project-specific experience dependant upon the type of work and sometimes the customer as many have their quality requirements that are to be met on any job to be performed.
All of the above roles are required if other industries in the UK outside of the nuclear industry have many transferrable skills. Minimum requirements for the positions are usually - but will differ depending upon the work - HNC/HND or degree level education, ISO9001:2008 training or working towards. Ideally, you'd be an associate or member of the Chartered Quality Institute. As discussed in other posts, nuclear sector experience will always be cited as ideal, but this is no reason to be put off in applying for roles, particularly if you tick all of the other boxes above.
Graduate Quality Engineer Jobs in the UK Nuclear Industry
We are starting to see more and more key companies looking to recruit graduates to bring in early and train up as part of a chartered CGI scheme to try and redress the balance with the issues associated with the current number of SQEP resources in the industry.
The pre-requisites for being able to apply for and gain a place on the grade schemes include having at least a 2:2 BEng (Hons), MEng (Hons) or BSc (Hons) in Civil or Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Quality Management or similar related discipline, experience within an engineering or construction environment and eligibility to work and live permanently in the UK. Don't be put off if you have zero experience, as this is a graduate role after all.
All this involves the words "Nuclear" and "Graduate"; you need to check out The Nuclear Gateway.
Average Hourly Rate
One of the most popular questions we get from our readers here is how much do Quality Engineers make per year and their hourly wage.
The average is around £40,000 (typically between £30,000 and £65,000) with a top earners bringing home above £110,000 per year.
Additionally, if you are willing and able to move location you could find a pay rise by moving to a higher profile project in the nuclear new build or nuclear defence segments of the nuclear industry.
Find out more at our 'how much do quality engineers earn' page.
Most of the job advertisements will state a requirement for a degree-level education and relevant Quality related qualification. Due to the nature of the work, relevant experience, in a regulated industry will go a long way to you landing a role regardless of your education level.
Read our 'how to become a quality engineer' page.
Pros and Cons
Here are some of the pros and cons of the role:
No one day is ever the same.
Very people-centric role.
Satisfaction of bringing together diverse people to solve complex problems.
Can be difficult to manage many aspects of the work at any one time.
Not always the most popular member of the team, especially if putting work on hold that doesn't need the required standards.
What Is The Job Like
Is this job meaningful
Being in the quality functions has its ups and downs, along with much hard work. Quality Engineers have to be thorough, meticulous and know exactly what they are doing. They also need to get a lot of safety training.
Up bright and early, work clothes on, take a hard hat and go to the site or factory being worked on.
Today’s project is on a new build project so lots to do.
Make sure all required testing equipment and is working well.
Clearing the site to start the inspection.
Review testing requirements documentation.