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10 Skills and Traits demonstrated in Nuclear Engineering

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

You could be forgiven for thinking that this should have / would have been our first post, given the title of the website. Well, regardless of the timing, we hope that this post will provide you with a great insight into getting into nuclear as nuclear engineers.

We've taken information from several sources (referenced throughout our article) to compliment our in-house knowledge to hopefully provide a one-stop-shop of information about getting into nuclear engineering in the UK Nuclear Industry. There is a plethora of information out there, not all UK specific and not all available in one place - this was one of the main reasons for the creation of

Okay, so let us get to the question at hand of how you become one of the nuclear engineers in the UK Nuclear Industry.


getting into nuclear engineering

How to Become a Nuclear Engineer - Nuclear Engineer Career

How to Become a Nuclear Engineer: Career Path Guide

We've taken information from several sources (referenced throughout our article) to compliment our in-house knowledge to hopefully provide a one-stop-shop of information about getting into nuclear engineering in the UK Nuclear Industry. There is a plethora of information out there, not all UK specific and not all available in one place - this was one of the main reasons for the creation of

To become a UK nuclear engineer, you will also need the emotional and intellectual capacity to complete all necessary academic work. You will also need a high-stress tolerance, as this is required when you don’t achieve immediate results in your work. To succeed in a career as a nuclear engineer, you must be able to visualise complex processes, and you must be very precise in your work activities and when you perform calculations.” Academic Invest

So you want to work in the nuclear power industry.

The nuclear industry in the UK is long-established with a proud history, employing 65,000 people, and this number is set to rocket to over 100,000. Nuclear can sometimes be a contentious topic, particularly when considering nuclear energy and the UK nuclear deterrent. Still, there are many roles available within other decommissioning sectors (the cleaning up on the legacy waste from previous years) and the medical arena. As such, the nuclear engineering salary can be are some of the best in the UK.

So why would you consider getting into UK nuclear Engineering?

Working in nuclear in the UK allows you to be a part of some of the most varying, exciting and challenging projects of our time. And as such, the UK nuclear industry attracts the most intelligent people in the country who have the drive and passion for providing innovative nuclear solutions that allow the industry to thrive and continue moving forward in the right direction.

Due to removing the requirement for further nuclear reactors following the boom of the 1980s, recruitment in the industry has remained pretty stagnated during the ’90s and ’00s. However, the industry is on the crest of a wave and is set to boom in the coming years, so that time has never been better for anyone trying to get into nuclear.

The critical people set to benefit are graduates who have a science or engineering background. Even though they have not necessarily completed a nuclear specific course, the skills are required for the nuclear industry over the coming years. Look into grad schemes here!

This does not preclude other roles required in the industry ranging from machinists, welders, inspectors, site workers, administration clerks. There is an opportunity for anyone who meets the vetting requirements.

As discussed, there is a clear requirement for a vast array of engineers, electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, construction workers who need to be skilled, of course, but one thing that the nuclear industry has been doing to help the atomic specialist in getting into nuclear is to try and make it more worthwhile from a monetary perspective as nuclear engineering salaries in the UK are above the highest.

Additionally to the salaries available and their attractiveness, many workers feel that they are making a positive impact on the environment and sleep easy knowing I am helping to provide much-needed reliable energy when the country is in the midst of a crisis. The nuclear industry is not as bad as it is made out to be.

So you want to be a nuclear engineer?


Nuclear Engineer

What is a Nuclear Engineer?

UK Nuclear Engineers are engineers that design and develop nuclear equipment and research problems surrounding atomic energy systems. Nuclear engineers may also monitor the testing of and operate nuclear reactors.

New graduates who choose to become nuclear engineers typically begin their careers by working under the supervision of atomic engineers more experienced in the field. As more experience and knowledge are gained, nuclear engineers typically take on increasing levels of difficulty or responsibility. The graduate nuclear engineering salary can vary but is above average in the UK.

With enough experience, knowledge and professional competence, the personal traits of UK nuclear engineers may move on to become specialists in a particular area or supervise a team of engineers or technicians. They may also move into other areas, such as technical sales or executive management.

With a master’s degree in engineering or supplementary education in medical science, nuclear engineers may also move into the field of medical physics.

Nuclear Engineer UK Job Description

Nuclear engineers may have different job responsibilities, depending on which field they choose to apply their knowledge. Nuclear engineers may:

  • Work to design systems and equipment that produce energy for business and domestic use.

  • Perform academic research in the field of nuclear engineering or instruct university classes in this area

  • Conduct research for the diagnosis and treatment of disease in medicine

  • Develop and build nuclear-powered submarines for the Navy

Types of nuclear engineer

You can choose to specialise in just one part of the engineering field. For example, some reactors are cooled using water systems to develop a career as a specialist hydraulic engineer. Chemical, electrical and mechanical engineers can all find a place in the nuclear industry.

Other specialities include:

  • health and safety specialist;

  • instrumentation and control engineer;

  • process engineer;

  • project manager;

  • quality engineer;

  • reactor operator.

Nuclear Engineer Job Duties

Nuclear engineers may have different job duties depending on their level of responsibility, personal traits, where they work, or the field they work within. Generally, UK nuclear engineers are responsible for:

Nuclear Mechanical Engineer
  • Planning and conducting nuclear research to make discoveries

  • Planning and conducting nuclear research to test, prove or modify known nuclear theories concerning the release, control and utilisation of atomic energy

  • Planning, designing and developing nuclear equipment such as reactor cores, radiation shielding and associated instrumentation and control mechanisms

  • Preparing technical reports based on knowledge obtained during research and development activities

  • Studying the nuclear fuel cycle to determine the most efficient uses of nuclear material and safest means of nuclear waste disposal

  • Keep abreast of developments and changes in the nuclear energy field by reading technical journals and by independent study and research

  • Monitoring nuclear tests and examining operations of facilities that process or utilise radioactive or fissionable material to ensure efficient functioning and conformity with safety specifications, regulations, and laws

  • understand the science behind how nuclear facilities work;

  • analyse energy transmission, conversion and storage systems;

  • solve design or operational problems within reactor cores and shielding, hydraulic and electrical systems, and complex instrumentation, such as monitoring equipment;

  • manage staff and budgets for intricate design, construction, maintenance, expansion, safety and decommissioning projects;

  • always keep the safety of people and the environment in mind, cooperate with local emergency services, and work with national, EU and international industry regulatory bodies;

  • be aware of and address security concerns regarding the use, transport, storage and disposal of radioactive materials;

  • write reports, project plans and other documents that provide information about new facilities, existing processes, problems and solutions, and safety exercises for regulators, energy firms, and co-workers in facility construction and management;

  • discuss engineering issues with people from other fields, such as construction professionals, power grid managers and government officials;

  • plan and assist with the safe decommissioning of facilities that have reached the end of their lifespan, including temporary and long-term disposal of high-hazard radioactive material.

What you'll do

You’ll produce energy for business and domestic use, support the clean up of legacy wastes, support the UK's defence industry via deterrent or propulsion or provide technologies to improve medical care in the UK.

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • designing and building new plants and equipment

  • monitoring and measuring radiation levels

  • carrying out maintenance work

  • making sure that the plant structure meets legal requirements

  • being responsible for security and safety

  • supervising power station technicians

  • planning safe methods of nuclear waste disposal

You could also use your knowledge of nuclear technology in other areas, like:

  • industrial or academic research and development

  • diagnosing and treating disease in medicine

  • developing and building nuclear-powered submarines


Who Creates Jobs for UK Nuclear Engineers?

Nuclear engineers are hired by organisations involved in performing research on nuclear energy and energy systems and organisations that use nuclear technology. As such, the nuclear engineering salary in the UK can fluctuate depending upon the demand.

Organisations that hire UK Nuclear Engineers include:

  • Engineering and energy consulting firms

  • Universities and colleges

  • Civil service or government departments

  • Private and public research facilities

  • Electric power generation, transmission and distribution companies

  • Manufacturing and other private sector firms

  • Resource and high technology industries (such as the telecommunications, microelectronics, and aerospace industries)

For info, check out our where to get into nuclear guide.


What Education is Needed to Become a UK Nuclear Engineer

The Entry requirements

You’ll need an HNC, HND, foundation degree or degree in a relevant scientific or technical subject, like:

  • chemical engineering

  • electrical engineering

  • maths

  • mechanical engineering

  • physics

You could also go on a graduate training scheme.

The Nuclear Industry Association has more information on becoming a nuclear engineer.

For some jobs in the nuclear industry, you may need to pass security checks.

The Skills required