Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category:

Nuclear Engineering

An academic degree program offered by more than 35 universities in the United States at the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral levels.  The nuclear engineering curriculum typically includes reactor systems studies, fuel cycle, materials science, radiation interaction, space reactors, and advanced concepts.

Travis Trahan Ph.D. Candidate, Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences - University of Michigan

Dr. Travis Trahan
Dr. Trahan received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences from the University of Michigan in 2014. He is now a R&D Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.


Nuclear engineers harness the power of the atom to benefit humankind. They search for efficient ways to capture and put to beneficial use those tiny natural bursts of energy from a disintegrating atom. As a nuclear engineer, you may be challenged by problems in consumer and industrial power, space exploration, water supply, agriculture and environmental pollution, health, and transportation. Participation in these broad areas can lead you into many exciting and challenging careers. These could include interaction of radiation with matter, radiation measurements, radioisotope production and use, reactor engineering, and fusion reactors and materials.

As a nuclear engineer, you might…

  • Develop designs for nuclear plants for electricity production and to power naval vessels.
  • Apply radiation in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
  • Develop ways to use radiation to produce and preserve food supplies.
  • Operate and support nuclear energy systems to reduce environmental pollution from fossil fuels.
  • Develop power plants to power satellites and deep space probes.
  • Develop and apply regulations to ensure safety in handling radiation sources and operating nuclear systems.

Nuclear Energy

With electricity consumption constantly rising, more countries around the world are viewing nuclear energy as a viable option for reducing the number of fossil fuel-burning electrical plants, which emit large amounts of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, as well as other pollutants. Nuclear energy is seen as a valuable, clean and efficient alternative to pollution-producing sources of energy relied on heavily today. Nuclear energy also powers satellites and ships, and provides electrical needs for deep space exploration. Outage SL2-19 January 13 photos 032

Sample Career Choices in Nuclear Energy

  • Reactor operators run the controls at a power plant to produce electricity
  • Engineers design power plants and supervise operations
  • Nuclear scientists explore ways to improve safety and efficiency
  • Technologists locate underground natural resources

Is the nuclear industry right for you? Learn more about it from NEI – Careers in the Nuclear Industry

Environment and Food Production

As the world’s population grows, the need for food and other perishable resources is increasing rapidly. Radiation helps us develop plants that produce higher yields, raise healthier animals, eliminate pests without chemicals, and enhance food safety.

In recent years, more than 1,500 new crop varieties have been developed in 40 countries around the globe. Scientists used radiation technology to help them develop 90 percent of those new varieties. In Italy, over half the pasta is made from a wheat variety developed by using radiation techniques. In Africa, sterile insect technique (SIT) was used to control the Tsetse fly that transmits disease in cattle and sleeping sickness in humans. In another country, a new cotton variety resulted in crops nearly twice the size of previous crops.

Sample Career Choices in Environmental Research and Nuclear Technology

  • Gamma facilities operators use radiation to destroy microorganisms like salmonella or E. coli
  • Biologists conduct experiments to develop new varieties of crops
  • Research assistants help scientists and food engineers collect and analyze data
  • Technologists measure to make the most of limited water supplies

In Argentina, like in many parts of the world, water is at risk of over-exploitation and contamination. To protect it, scientists are studying its most invisible details with the help of nuclear technology. Scientists can determine the quantity and quality of water supplies. Using naturally-occurring isotopes as tracers, they study water’s isotopic composition to find out where groundwater comes from, how it travels, if it is recent or old, its recharge rate and whether it is polluted. The science behind this is called isotope hydrology.


Nuclear Security

Nuclear engineers have been involved in the policies associated with nuclear non-proliferation. According to the Dept. of Homeland Security, nuclear forensics – the collection, analysis and evaluation of radiological and nuclear material – fused with law enforcement and intelligence information helps identify those responsible for planned and executed terrorist attacks.
The National Nuclear Security Administration has established curriculum at MIT, Penn State University, Texas A&M University to address the growing need for trained nuclear security professionals.

Sample Career Choices in Nuclear Security:

  • Security professionals are responsible for securing thousands of nuclear weapons and components, and hundreds of tons of special nuclear material in all forms, shapes, and sizes
  • Security officers maintain a safe and secure environment for employees of nuclear facilities by patrolling and monitoring premises and personnel
  • Safety Professionals at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

To learn more about how we are keeping America safe, visit

Medical Science

Discoveries based on nuclear science have dramatically improved both longevity and quality of life. Nuclear medicine benefits over 35,000 patients daily in the U.S. in our hospitals and medical clinics. Here are just a few ways nuclear science has a considerable impact on current medical practice:

  • Physicians rely on x-rays to diagnose tumors without the need of invasive surgery.
  • Radiation is used to treat leukemia and other types of cancer.
  • More than half of all medical equipment used in hospitals is sterilized with radiation.
  • Radioisotopes are used in the development of more than 80 percent of all new drugs.

In addition, radiation techniques have played a key role in twelve of the last fifteen Nobel Prizes awarded for medicine and physiology. Over the past few years alone, great strides have been made by nuclear engineers and health physicists in the production of radioisotopes that are used for medical diagnostics and treatments.

Nuclear medicine and biology studies can lead to a wide range of challenging careers such as:

  • Physicians–many fields of medicine use radiation to diagnose and treat diseases.
    • Nuclear medicine radiologists, also called nuclear radiologists, are physicians who use radioactive materials, called radiopharmaceuticals, to diagnose and treat disease.
    • Radiation oncologists specialize in using radiation therapy to treat cancer.
    • Interventional radiologists perform interventions using radiological imaging, allowing for minimally invasive treatments.
  • Nuclear pharmacists specialize in preparing and dispensing radiopharmaceuticals. Nuclear pharmacists can work in hospitals, nuclear pharmacies, industry, and research institutes.
  • Technicians are needed in many nuclear medicine fields. Nuclear medicine technicians work with physicians to prepare patients for treatment with radiopharmaceuticals; some perform imaging procedures. Diagnostic radiation technicians perform many imaging procedures, such as X-rays, and assist with many others.

For more information on careers in medical science, visit the Radiological Society of North America’s public website,

Health Physics

careers3Health physics is the field devoted to protecting people and their environment from potential radiation hazards, while making it possible to enjoy the benefits of the peaceful use of the atom. Degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level are offered by approximately thirty universities in the United States and Canada. The health physics curriculum includes radiation interaction and detection, dosimetry, radiation protection and standards, risk assessment, radiation emergency management, environmental monitoring and assessment, and nuclear waste management.

Health physicists must be detail-orientated, interested in protecting and helping others, and have had some science and mathematics.  Because of the care these well-trained individuals take, nuclear workers know their health and safety is monitored, carefully measured, and strictly controlled.

As a health physicist, you may…

  • Monitor work areas and workers for radiation.
  • Train workers in the use of protective clothing and equipment.
  • Analyze readings from the monitoring devices.

To learn more about careers in health physics, please visit the Health Physics Society

HPS Careers - download brochure

HPS Careers – download brochure

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