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How to get into nuclear power career from Physics degree?

  1. Mar 2, 2014 #1
    Hi all, no idea if this is the correct place to ask this but I'll just put it here anyway.

    I chose to take Physics at university because I find the breadth of it so interesting. However in terms of applying my knowledge, I think it's generally accepted that as a physicist I'll need to branch away and specialise further, unless I just want to work in research or become a physics teacher.

    So my primary interest is in the area of energy, particularly renewable or nuclear, but with a stronger emphasis on nuclear as I think this is the vanguard of future energy (unless by some miracle all 7 billion of us cut back on our power consumption to the point where solar panels will provide enough for all...).

    So I just wonder if anyone knows what sort of path I'd need to take from a physics degree to get myself into a career involving nuclear power?

    Thanks and sorry if I've posted in the wrong area. :shy:
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 2, 2014 #2


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    Since you are in a physics program anyway, you could concentrate your coursework more towards nuclear physics instead of mechanics or theoretical physics. I would talk to an advisor at your school about this, one who may be more familiar with the courses you have taken already.

    You don't say how far away you are from graduating. If you are in the last two years of an undergrad degree program, IMO, it would be a good idea to start thinking about where you would want to work in the nuclear industry. There may be opportunities in reactor design, plant operation, etc. And you may not be limited to the civilian power industry. The US Navy operates a variety of reactors and they are always on the look out for nuclear power program candidates.
  4. Mar 2, 2014 #3
    Thanks for replying :)

    I'm soon to finish my first year of undergrad study, so I have two more to go (plus another year if I choose to go onto the Masters level). On my whole degree there's just one module that is geared more closely towards this kind of area - 'Physics of Energy and the Environment', which goes into a lot of different types of energy methods, so it'll only lightly touch on nuclear, I expect.

    Looking at the route of study at my university, I thought I'd have to almost totally re-educate myself to gain any applicable knowledge outside of the general curriculum. I guess I could speak to my advisor about it, or maybe see about swapping some of the non-core modules over to ones about nuclear engineering if possible.

    I still need to research the more specific branches of nuclear that I'd like to go into. Currently I just know I want to be part of the future of clean(er) global energy. Definitely not interested in the military stuff (anti-war guy here - I won't do anything for 'defence' until my country (UK) uses its military assets for defence only).

    I've downloaded a couple of books on the theory of neutron chain reactors, so I'll try to get stuck into them

    I guess my main worry was that I'd have to start from scratch on a whole new course of study, but by the sounds of things I may be able to just tailor my degree a little more towards what I want to achieve, as long as the university don't get too funny about me branching away from their usual physics curriculum!
  5. Mar 2, 2014 #4
    Lots of people working at the reactor vendors and at the operating power plants have physics undergrad with nuclear engineering masters.
  6. Mar 2, 2014 #5
    Ahhh interesting, and very promising news to me!

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