Nuclear engineer job info

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Jane Simpson is a project engineer in the nuclear power industry working for the British Nuclear Group. She ensures that adequate safety equipment and instrumentation is available and that regulations are enforced.

What does your job as a nuclear engineer involve?

I work as an engineer in the Control Electrical & Instrumentation (CE&I) Capability Department. The group consists of a small number of technical specialists from all electrical and electronic areas including Radiometric and Special Instruments, which is the area in which I work.

What are Radiometric and Special Instruments?

They are instrumentation used to detect radiation. This includes instrumentation for the protection of personnel from airborne activity, for plant surveillance and evacuation systems.

The main purpose of the group is to provide assurance and consultancy including training and development.We also make regular spot checks on projects to ensure all requirements and standards have been considered and met.

Do you have a typical day?

I don't have a typical day. There are activities that I have to complete regularly but my day can vary. I often attend meetings for various projects, conduct site visits to review an installation and visit suppliers.

What equipment do you use?

My work is very dependent on my PC and the majority of work I do requires a relatively good competency with PCs. I also have to make frequent visits to suppliers and sites, so being able to drive is quite an important part of my job.

What was your route into this career as a nuclear engineer?

After university I started work with a recruitment agency. My second job through the agency was with British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL). After two years as an agency supplied worker I was made permanent staff. Whilst at university I also got valuable work experience within the pharmaceutical industry which gave me a better understanding of the type of work environment I am now in.

Why did you choose this type of work?

I have always had a keen interest in sciences, specifically physics. At university one of the subjects I enjoyed best was nuclear physics, and I was lucky enough to get a job in this area through the agency.

What training have you received?

I have received extensive on-the-job training in a number of different areas, such as on environmental and health and safety issues, in addition to the key skills I need specifically for my job.

What do you like best about your career as a nuclear engineer?

I like the variety in my job. I also feel that I am very fairly treated, especially as a working mother, and I feel a valued member of the team.

What skills and qualities do you need to be a Nuclear engineer?

One of the most important skills is to be able to work in a team. You also need to be aware of the hazards of working on a production plant in the nuclear decommissioning industry.

Jane's route to her career as a nuclear engineer

  • GCSEs.
  • A levels.
  • Degree in Physics.
  • Qualified as a chartered physicist.

Jane's nuclear engineering tips

  • Consider work placements – either summer or year long.
  • Become a member of a professional engineering institution.
  • Be flexible about your career path, there are many ways to reach the job you want.

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Nuclear engineer salary

  • Graduate engineers usually start on around £20,000 a year.
  • Experienced engineers with qualifications and professional association membership usually earn about £35,000.
  • Senior chartered engineers can earn more than £40,000 a year.

Nuclear engineer job info

  • An engineering degree is usually required. A small number of incorporated nuclear engineers hold a specific nuclear engineering degree, but the industry draws on many different engineering skills in the building and operation of nuclear power stations and systems.
  • Entry for a degree course is usually with at least two A levels/three H grades, including maths and science, and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent.
  • The British Nuclear Group has a two-year graduate development programme. British Energy operates graduate training schemes and offers one-year industrial placements to enable young people to gain initial experience of the industry.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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