Nuclear engineer


Career outlook for nuclear engineer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

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


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.


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





Self employed


Create a qualification route

We've found some examples of the qualifications that could help you get this job.

Discover my route

Search course options

Thinking about your future? There are lots of courses available that could interest you. Use our course search to explore course options.

Find courses

Search job opportunities

If you're looking for your new career our job search can help you. Discover interesting opportunities and decide your next steps.

Find a job

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Evaluating
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Filtering
  • Developing a plan
  • Analysing

Skills Explorer

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.

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

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


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.