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Getting a job in Nuclear Engineering

  1. Jun 13, 2012 #1
    Hello everyone,

    So I am doing a 3-2 program in Physics and Nuclear engineering. I spent my first 3 years at West chester university and am about to spend my next 2 at Penn State University Park. When its all said and done I will have a B.S. in Physics and a Minor in Mathematics from West Chester University and a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Penn state. I have heard that nuclear engineering is fairly specialized and will limit job opportunities but I am wondering if this is actually true. Does anyone have experience with a degree in Nuclear engineering? Will I have trouble getting a job with these degrees? Also I expect to have both gpas over or around a 3.5 and an internship next summer. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 14, 2012 #2


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    Most engineering disciplines are specialized to some extent, and even within a particular discpline, one specializes further. Ideally, with a physics and nuclear engineering BS degrees, one will be fairly flexible.

    Any competent engineer will have no problem find a job. The demand for good engineers is high, and the better the engineer, the greater the demand.

    Knowing how to solve problems, particularly complex problems in nuclear reactor physics, fuel and material thermo-mechanical behavior, heat transfer (particularly conjugate heat transfer), thermal hydraulics, etc will ensure employment.

    Most of my colleagues in my nuclear engineering undergrad program went into other related fields in energy (including power systems) or materials. Many obtained advanced degress, MS or PhD, before going to industry, government lab, or military.
  4. Jun 14, 2012 #3
    I think the best thing you can do is the internship. If you show intelligence & a good work ethic there you greatly improve the likelihood of being hired.

    Most (?) nuclear engineering grads work for the utility companies (at the plants, in reactor engineering or in the fuels engineering groups) or for the reactor vendors. All of these companies are loaded with people ready to retire now. The reactor vendors hired a lot of new people in the past 4-5 years, they may be slower to hire right now. That could change in a year or two. I think the utilities are almost always looking for new people.

    Go for the internship and keep an open mind about relocating.
  5. Jun 14, 2012 #4

    jim hardy

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    Amen to the internship.

    Power plants have one reactor surrounded by myriads of motors and valves and instruments.

    I'd suggest you squeeze in a course in feedback control systems, one in basic electronics, and one in AC machinery. These will make you more at home in a power plant should you decide to work for a utility.

    Best of luck old jim
  6. Jun 14, 2012 #5
    Thanks for the advice. I just am slightly worried about job possibilities but it seems I should not be if I stay on path. Does anyone know how penn state stacks up against other schools regarding nuclear engineering? I have heard it is good but I think it has fallen in recent years in the US News and World Report rankings and just want to know if it still has any prestige. Also, the last thing is regarding grad school if I decide to go that route. What is more beneficial toward getting a job in industry, M.S or M.Eng in Nuclear Engineering (I don't want to get a PhD) and how long do masters programs normally take?
  7. Jun 14, 2012 #6


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    I'd go with the MS, and that usually takes 2 years beyond a BS degree. PSU has reasonably good program, and I encounter some engineers from there.

    And I know the Chair of the NE program.
  8. Jun 16, 2012 #7
    I'm currently a nuclear engineering student that has worked one internship with a utility and is currently interning at a reactor vendor. Get an internship if you can! It's a great foot in the door, but never stop networking.

    All engineers need to learn to make an investment in their jobs by turning them into a career! Students who do that by joining societies in their fields early on are able to get internships much easier! Don't worry about job opportunities, if you're a good nukey you'll get a good job.
  9. Jun 16, 2012 #8


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    Networking is really important - especially for getting one's name out there in the industry.

    www.ans.org - within ANS there are various Technical Divisions. Some offer scholarships. There is also the ANS Student Conference every year around March/April.


    Get involved through the university. Most NE programs have an ANS student chapter.
  10. Jun 16, 2012 #9
    good advice as always from astronuc

    besides ANS, look into NA YGN.
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