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

Engineering Nuclear Engineering Salary

  1. Oct 31, 2006 #1
    Hi everyone, been lurking on here for some time, these forums are very interesting!

    Anyways, since I havent been able to dig up this sort of info anywhere else, perhaps some of you may be able to help. Im currently a nuclear engineering student looking to graduate with a BS this coming spring. While I totally agree you must do a job you enjoy, I am also looking for a big salary. I know thats not very PC to say that these days, but whatever, its true.

    My original plan was to get a masters and go work at a national lab. This last summer, I did an internship at a national lab, and my mentor there told me that I would without a doubt make much more money working for a utility rather than a national lab. Is that true? I would be better off (from a purely financial perspective) to get a BS and work at a power plan than get a MS and work at a lab?

    As long as Im doing something nuclear related, Im happy. So what type of employment within NE would probably let me live the most financially comfortable lifestyle?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 31, 2006 #2
    I am not too sure of numbers, but I interned with Southern Company this past summer (thanks to another member of this board, actually) and it paid better than most of my friends' internships. I believe I saw an average starting salary of $50,000 for BS in NRE (I assume they mostly went to industry/utilities) for graduates from here (Georgia Tech) for the 2004 year.

    Did you do intern through the SULI program? I am registering for that for next summer, if you could tell me how you liked it, I would be grateful.
  4. Nov 1, 2006 #3
    Interesting. Im not familiar with SULI, I just applied directly to the lab I was interested in (PNNL). As far as how I liked it, it was great. They paid me well, everybody I met was very friendly and excited to talk to me about their work. Everything about it was excellent - except for the living in Richland part. If it wasnt for Richland being so utterly terrible I would have given it more serious consideration as a career choice.
  5. Nov 6, 2006 #4
    Wow, 74 views and only one reply. Obviously some other people are interested in this topic too, why is everyone so quiet? Im guessing one of two reasons:
    1) Everybody has no idea
    2) People do not want to reply because they percieve it as a bad, bad thing to express a desire to maximize income. Im sure most of you go to work because you are all philanthropists.

    So whats the deal?
  6. Nov 7, 2006 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    theCandyman is essentially correct. $50 K is about right for someonen with a BS degree. More than that will depend on one's grades and any research/thesis done.

    I was hired by a company years ago because I was one of a handful of students who had experience with a particular code, and the company desperately needed someone who had experience with the code. I had an MS degree though. Where I now work, we prefer to hire MS or PhDs.

    Overall - http://www.nei.org/documents/Engineering_Median_Incomes.ppt#1 [Broken] - compare Nuclear with other disciplines

    There is a shortage of nuclear engineers and in fact mechanical engineers with strong backgrounds in FEA/FEM. The industry is paying premium salaries due to the shortage and in anticipation of building new plants.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  7. Nov 7, 2006 #6
    FEA = finite element analysis I assume? That stuff is interesting although they didnt really seem to teach us much about that during my undergrad studies. Thanks for the reply.
  8. Nov 7, 2006 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Yes, FEA is Finite Element Analysis. FEA/FEM would be taught more likely in MS curricula. These days, it's almost essential for an ME/NE/CE/Aero to know FEA, and that includes CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics). If one has FEA/CFD experience, one has a lot of opportunities. The people in greatest demand now are those with FEA/FEM experience.
  9. Jan 15, 2009 #8
    I've heard of lots of engineering students from MIT getting jobs fresh out of school starting at over 100k...I didn't hear if that was with graduate school or not, but I'm pretty sure they meant undergrads
  10. Jan 16, 2009 #9
    Don't forget the reactor vendors (Westinghouse, Areva, GE...) They do alot of the core design and other 'real' nuclear engineering stuff. These are big companies, and (in my experience) it's pretty easy to move from group to group if you get bored with one area. I'm pretty sure they are all still looking to hire new grads. The utilities generally have fewer nuclear engineers (tho they definitely do have some). Most utility engineers at the plants are mech or EE. They learn their nuclear stuff on the job.
  11. Jan 16, 2009 #10

    I'm a nuclear Engineer working in Germany.
    Experience: 3 years
    jod description: Sales Manager
    studies: process engineering
    income: 60k €

  12. Jan 18, 2009 #11


    User Avatar

    The real money in Nuclear is not with Engineering. Good to have a degree, but to maximize salary, plan to get a License.
  13. Jan 18, 2009 #12
    true for sure. The details of the job and the shiftwork hours might blow for sure, but it does pay.

    They say that shiftwork removes years from your life however, so you'll lose a bit on pension pay.
  14. Jan 22, 2009 #13
    An alternative is to go to work with a Bachelors and get your masters while working and earning a salary while your employer pays for your masters....it's a tough grind doing both at the same time but gives you both academic and practical experience simultaneously.

    Get a job that you really like....working at something you don't REALLY like 40 or 50 or 60 hours a week gets old REALLY fast!!!!
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook