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how to become a Nuclear Technician

How to Become a Nuclear Technician

Nuclear Technicians are a specialized type of Science Technician whose work revolves around helping scientists improve products and procedures using mathematical and scientific foundations. Their work is based out of a laboratory where they help scientists by carrying out technological tasks. They use nuclear physics in order to provide production, maintenance and quality control procedures.

People who want to become a Nuclear Technician can fall under two categories:

  • Nuclear Equipment Operation Technicians

  • Nuclear Monitoring Technicians

A Nuclear Equipment Operation Technician is involved in the Green Economy which has been experiencing tremendous growth for the past few years. They assist scientists working in a lab by running equipment that releases, controls and uses nuclear energy.

A Nuclear Monitoring Technician performs their work out of a lab helping protect people from possible radiation exposure and notifying management when radiation exposure has reached the maximum allowable limit set by legal standards.

Education Requirements to Become a Nuclear Technician

The educational requirements vary for the Nuclear Technician specializations. Potential Nuclear Equipment Operation Technicians should focus on beginning a program that offers training or an Associate's degree in the field. These requirements can be met by attending and completing related courses at a Vocational School, Community College or a training program. Helpful courses that prepare students to join the field include:

  • Public Safety and Security

  • Physics

  • Engineering

  • Technology

Those who want to focus on becoming a Nuclear Monitoring Technician need at least an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree with an emphasis on Nuclear Technology or similar educational background. Some common types of classes needed to fulfill this educational background include:

  • Chemistry

  • Nuclear Physics

  • Electricity

  • Mathematics courses

Gaining experience with on the job training is an alternative route that someone who wants to become a Nuclear Technician can take. The best way to do this is by joining a branch of the Armed Forces, more specifically, the US Navy which manages nuclear ships.
Because of the radioactivity involved, those who want to become a Nuclear Technician should be trained to handle dangerous material and learn safety procedures in order to keep other employees and the public safe.

Nuclear Technician Job Description

Both specializations under Nuclear Technicians work with and can be exposed to radiation. Their primary job is to make sure radiation is kept below the legal minimum in order to ensure safety to other individuals.

Nuclear Technicians provide assistance to Nuclear Physicists and Engineers in researching information; they do this by running testing equipment. They are also responsible for monitoring radiation levels and using remote controlled technology to handle material exposed to radioactivity or radioactive material itself. Nuclear Technicians should be aware of and implement safety protocol in order to handle radioactive matter.

The two types of Nuclear Technicians have responsibilities that vary in nature.

Nuclear Monitoring Technician: This position is mainly responsible for the collection and testing of samples in order to find the results from nuclear testing and determining whether any unnecessary or unwanted contamination was experienced by the facility, environment or whether human exposure was caused.

Nuclear Equipment Operation Technician: This position will assist scientists working in a lab by operating equipment to manage nuclear energy. They are responsible for the controlling and releasing of nuclear energy.

Nuclear Technician Salary and Career Path

The median salary for those specializing as Nuclear Monitoring Technicians is approximately $67,000 per year. The salary range for this position is from approximately $41,000 to $92,500 per year depending on experience.

For Nuclear Equipment Operation Technicians, the median salary is a bit lower but not by much at $66,000 annually, the starting salary for this position begins at approximately $40,000 and can go as high as $92,000 annually for experienced technicians. Median wages represent national statistics and can vary throughout states.

The job outlook for Nuclear Technicians seems to be as healthy as other industries. It is expected to grow at a steady rate providing many job opportunities. As with many other industries, employers look for candidates that have completed an education program and that have acquired a degree from a technology program.

The benefits of acquiring an Associate's degree to become a Nuclear Technician can pay off with the expected income a candidate can expect to earn.

*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics
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