A young professional’s guide to working in the nuclear energy sector22 November 2022
For individuals interested in entering the field of nuclear energy, now is the best time to do so.
As reported by Euro News, currently around 60,000 individuals across Britain work in the nuclear sector, which includes managing nuclear power stations, creating new stations, decommissioning those that have run their course, and other related projects. Furthermore, the UK's commitment to go net zero by 2050 is expected to result in a growth of opportunities in the nuclear energy sector. This article by Nuclear Engineering International will serve as an in-depth guide helping aspiring nuclear energy workers on the best steps to enter the industry.
Earn Relevant Qualifications
While there are no set guidelines on the type of degree required by nuclear energy workers, having an associate's or bachelor’s degree in science or engineering will provide the perfect foundation to build on. If you’re unsure about which degree to pursue, here is a list to use for reference:
- Electrical Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
Once you have found a specialization that is the right fit, the smart choice is to further your education with a Master’s. Not only will this help to increase expertise, but it also makes you stand out from the competition.
There are a host of universities spread across the UK that provide specialized degrees in nuclear engineering, such as:
- University of Bristol
- University of Liverpool
- University of Surrey
- The University of Manchester
Refer to this link to learn about all universities offering nuclear-related degrees.
Develop Required Skills
Common positions held by professionals in the nuclear energy sector include nuclear engineering, technician, project manager, and more. While each of these positions has its own requirements, here’s a list of common skills employers look for in new candidates:
- Good problem-solving skills that help to fix bottlenecks efficiently
- Strong command over arithmetic
- Ability to work well in a team
- Good interpersonal skills that play a key role during cross-team projects
- Ability to think on your feet and face challenges with confidence
While no one is proficient in all these skills, your aim should be to have a holistic skill-set that can be developed through attending workshops, actively networking with professionals in your niche, and finding a mentor who can guide you towards achieving career goals, as suggested by Mentoring Complete.
Additionally, take the time to create a well-written resume that highlights relevant skills, expertise, and experience, as it will serve as a crucial document while applying for jobs. It’s best to create your resume on Google Docs and save and download a PDF version of your Google Doc on your phone, allowing you to access it anytime, anywhere.
Gain Work Experience
Just like in any industry, hands-on work experience will serve as a defining factor for securing your dream position. As a newcomer to the field, here are a few ways to build some experience:
- Look for Apprenticeships: For those with zero work experience, apprenticeships serve as the perfect starting point, as organizations running these programs solely hire candidates based on their educational background.
- Find an Internship: Nuclear power companies post a host of internship openings annually targeted toward those in school and recent graduates. Additionally, some companies run their own graduate programs through which you can acquire additional knowledge while learning relevant skills. Here is a good example!
In an ideal scenario, you should try to build a good relationship with your employer during these programs and work towards securing a permanent position with the organization.
Learn About Industry Norms
Most positions in the nuclear energy sector follow similar working hours to others, i.e. 9 am – 5 pm, five days a week. But, those working at power plants usually work in shifts which can include being on duty early mornings, late nights, and weekends. Hence, before applying to a position, take the time to learn about employer expectations and ensure that they meet your needs as well.
Getting your foot in the door of the nuclear energy industry is not as hard as it’s made out to be. With the right education, good work experience, and a strong resume, you’ll become a viable candidate for a plethora of employers looking for talent in the years ahead.