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Nuclear Technician Career

Career Description

Nuclear Technicians assist scientists in both laboratory and production activities by performing technical tasks involving nuclear physics, primarily in operation, maintenance, production, and quality control support activities.

Common Work Tasks

  • Operate nuclear test and research equipment,  monitor radiation, and assist nuclear engineers and physicists in research
  • Operate remote controlled equipment to manipulate radioactive materials or materials exposed to radioactivity
  • Calculate safe radiation exposure times for personnel using plant contamination readings and prescribed safe levels of radiation
  • Provide initial response to abnormal events and to alarms from radiation monitoring equipment
  • Monitor personnel to determine the amounts and intensities of radiation exposure
  • Inform supervisors when individual exposures or area radiation levels approach maximum permissible limits
  • Instruct personnel in radiation safety procedures and demonstrate use of protective clothing and equipment
  • Determine intensities and types of radiation in work areas, equipment, and materials, using radiation detectors and other instruments

Other Job Titles

Nuclear Technicians are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Nuclear Equipment Operations Technicians
  • Science Technicians
  • Environmental Scientists
  • Nuclear Monitoring Technicians

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
There are several ways to qualify for a job as a science technician.  Many employers prefer applicants who have at least 2 years of specialized training or an associate degree in applied science or science-related technology. Because employers’ preferences vary, however, some science technicians have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, or forensic science or have completed several science and math courses at a 4-year college.

Good communications skills are important for prospective nuclear technicians in industry, who often need to explain technical matters to persons without statistical expertise. An understanding of business and the economy also is valuable for those who plan to work in private industry.


The median annual salary of a Nuclear Technician is $66,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $92,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $40,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of nuclear technicians are:

  • Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution- $68,870
  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services - $50,470
  • Scientific Research and Development Services  - $72,220
  • Ship and Boat Building  - N/A
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $55,820

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  7%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 400
  • Employment 2006 : 6,500
  • Employment 2016:  6,900

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