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Nuclear Career Guidance

  1. Sep 22, 2014 #1
    Hey Guys! I joined the forums here recently, and have a vast appreciation and love for the study of Radioactive and Nuclear physics. I'm currently in highschool, and am wondering what advice you guys have for my planned career path. My questions are:

    What tests or classes are best for college credit, (AP, Clep tests, SAT) and what are the best ways to prepare for them?

    What degrees and colleges are best for my planned line of work?

    Should I study for one particular field (such as nuclear engineering) or should I study to become a nuclear physicist? Would this broaden my job oppurtunities?

    What suggested reading do you recommend? I'm trying to learn as much as I can now to smooth it out later on.

    What will be my day to day career like? I know it will vary greatly, so don't feel like you have to explain every single one.

    What are the benefits and requirements for working in the military? The educational system? The energy business? Which do you recommend?

    Thanks for your time guys! I look forward to what you have to say.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2014 #2


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    I know two people who served as nuclear reactor engineers in the US Navy (both worked on nuclear submarines). They enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about themselves and life. One of them spent some time with a consulting firm inspecting nuclear reactors and is now an Engineering Director at a very successful Silicon Valley Semiconductor company (he was a PhD student with me in Electrical Engineering) and the other one became a quant in the financial industry after getting a PhD in particle physics. For undergrad, their majors were EE and Physics, respectively.

    In some ways, it is probably easier to get work in the nuclear industry as an EE than a nuclear engineer or a physicist, but it depends a lot on the kind of work you want to do. The key though is to do something you find fascinating, because it is much easier to be good at something if you like it.

    As for reading, at your level the best thing you can do is make sure your math skills are as good as possible. In calculus, people struggled with the algebra, in my higher-level engineering classes, people struggled with the calculus, and so on.
  4. Sep 24, 2014 #3
    Thanks for the advice! So, how exactly did your friends in the navy get there. Were they employees working for companies that the navy contracted out, or did they work directly for the navy? If so, did they go to a regular college, get their degree, then apply for a job in the navy or did they go to a military academy?
  5. Sep 24, 2014 #4


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    They both joined the Navy during undergraduate days. They applied while they were still students and actually got tuition reimbursment and a stipend while they were in college. The program is called: Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program (NUPOC)

    You can read about it here: http://www.navy.com/joining/education-opportunities/undergraduate.html
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