Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Engineering MS in Nuclear Physics to job in Nuclear Engineering

  1. Jul 14, 2012 #1
    Here goes another post about transitioning from Physics to Engineering...

    I am 22 years old, and I will graduate with my MS in Nuclear Physics in May (current GPA: 4.0/4.0). My thesis is primarily concerned with the software development of a silicon detector that's located on a heavy ion collider, but other work I have done while in grad school includes software development of a cosmic ray detector and simulating ion collisions using the monte carlo method. Through this work and my undergraduate research, I have worked on a total of 3 particle accelerators, and I've taken Radiation Worker Training and General Employee Radiation Training at 3 different Department of Energy National Laboratories. Additionally, part of my past work experience has included testing, repairing, and replacing detector power supplies that had been damaged due to radiation exposure.

    Unfortunately, after almost 5 years of school for physics, I have realized that I am significantly more interested in pursing a career in Nuclear Engineering than a career in Nuclear Physics. I am currently working on my PhD in Nuclear Physics, but I plan to quit in May after my masters if I am able to secure a position as a Nuclear Engineer in time. I have 3 questions:
    1) Have any of y'all ever heard of someone transitioning from (Nuclear) Physics to (Nuclear) Engineering immediately after graduating with a MS degree?
    2) Do y'all have any advice for how to better my resume to sell myself as a Nuclear Engineer without returning to school for an additional degree?
    3) If I am graduating next May, how early should I start looking for and applying to jobs?

    I have found a few Nuclear Engineering positions that allow Nuclear Physicists to apply, and because of my previous work experience and masters degree with a high GPA, I feel that I might have a good chance. I would greatly appreciate getting some input from the PF community!

    Thanks! :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    It's possible, particularly if one has a background in nuclear interactions and cross-sections, and can move readily into neutronics or radiation effects on materials or radiation detection and dosimetry.

    One might consider completing the PhD is one has the opportunity and is not tied down with family.
  4. Jul 17, 2012 #3
    Thanks for the response :). It seems that a PhD in such a specialized field might have a negative effect on my career goals. I want to work in industry, and I strongly feel that this degree will make me overspecialized for the type of job I want. I certainly do not want to work in academia after graduation.
  5. Jul 18, 2012 #4
    Take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. NOW. Whether you decide to pursue the Ph.D or not, this will give the HR people the key word they need to pass your resume on to interviewers.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook