Nuclear engineer

Engineering
Produce

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Six year jobs forecast

The information is supplied by LMI For All

What's it like?

You would help keep a nuclear power plant running safely so it produces energy for people to use at home and at work.

You would:

  • design and build new plants and equipment
  • check radiation levels
  • carry out repairs
  • make sure that the plant obeys the law
  • be responsible for security and safety
  • manage power station technicians
  • plan safe ways of getting rid of nuclear waste

When a nuclear reactor is shut down, you may be involved in decommissioning the site. This means taking down any structures or buildings and making sure that any radioactive waste is safely removed.

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

  • industrial or academic research and development
  • the treatment of diseases, for example cancer
  • defence, for example designing and building nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Navy

Working conditions

Hours

In processing and power station operations, you could work a seven-day shift system that may include weekends, evenings and nights. In research and development you would usually work standard office hours, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Environment

Your work could take place in laboratories, control rooms or offices. You would need to be very aware of health and safety rules and regulations. This would include wearing protective clothing when you were dealing with radioactive material.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Taking the lead
  • Accuracy
  • Using computers
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Solving mathematical problems
  • Researching and investigating
  • Budgeting
  • Planning and organising

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in a relevant scientific subject. Relevant subjects include:

  • Physics with Nuclear Technologies
  • Physics
  • Maths
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering

You could also complete a postgraduate qualification (SCQF Level 11).

Most nuclear engineers start their career through a graduate scheme. 

Entry to a degree (SCFQ level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and Highers at BBBB or above, or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by many courses and employers)
  • Science subjects, in particular physical and chemistry (required by many courses and employers)
  • English
  • Technologies subjects such as engineering science

You will also need

To work for some organisations, such as the Ministry of Defence (MoD), you will have to undergo strict background and security checks.