Nuclear Engineer

Job Description:

Nuclear engineers make sure nuclear power stations run safely and effectively.

Job Category:
Engineering & Construction

What you will do:

You’ll produce energy for business and domestic use.

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 (leadership skills)
  • 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


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of physics
  • design skills and knowledge (creativity)
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a nuclear engineer, you will typically need to pursue a strong foundation in mathematics and science subjects during your GCSE and later on during your A-levels or equivalent qualifications. While specific requirements may vary depending on the university or educational institution you plan to attend and the country you’re in, here are the GCSE subjects that are generally recommended or required:

  1. Mathematics: A strong foundation in mathematics is crucial for any engineering field, including nuclear engineering. You should aim for a high-level GCSE mathematics qualification.
  2. Physics: Physics provides the fundamental principles and concepts that are essential for understanding nuclear engineering. A high-level GCSE qualification in physics is usually required.
  3. Chemistry: A GCSE in chemistry can also be beneficial, as it provides a basis for understanding the chemical processes and reactions that occur in nuclear reactors.
  4. English Language: While not directly related to nuclear engineering, good communication skills are essential in any field. A GCSE in English language will help you develop written and verbal communication skills.
  5. Additional Sciences: Some schools may require or recommend GCSEs in additional science subjects, such as biology, to provide a broader scientific knowledge base.

Post School

You’ll need an Higher National Certificate, Higher National Diploma, 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.

In the UK, 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.

Working Hours and Environment:

In processing and power stations you’ll work a 7-day shift system that may include weekends, evenings and nights.

In research and development you’ll usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

You’ll work in laboratories, control rooms or offices.

You’ll wear protective clothing when dealing with radioactive material.

Career Path & Progression:

You could move into research, or university teaching. You could also work freelance.