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Kids need a job? Tell them to become a nuke.
Old 06-06-2014, 03:10 PM   #1
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Kids need a job? Tell them to become a nuke.

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The Nuclear Energy Institute estimates that 39 percent of the nuclear workforce will hit retirement age by 2018, meaning the industry will have to hire 20,000 new workers over the next four years to replace the retirees.
Jobs available as nuclear workforce ages out
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Old 06-06-2014, 03:56 PM   #2
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One DS does electrical engineering mostly for nukes. But it all depends on the regulatory environment. That is not confidence inspiring.

The other DS just graduated with a BS in computer security. That is looking like a great choice, and lots of jobs will of necessity be located in the U.S. . That's a field I could recommend.
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Old 06-06-2014, 05:07 PM   #3
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I know of at least one nuke job that will be available soon, DW retires very soon. Linked article seems very true to me. Lots of workers retiring. They usually have cake whenever anyone retires from DW's plant. As our neighbor said " we were having cake every day"
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Old 06-06-2014, 08:42 PM   #4
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I have a close friend that's an auxiliary operator and he says the pay is great at $60-100k, but the shift work sucks! My understanding is all that's required is a college degree and nuclear qualifications from the military (he served as an enlisted on a surface nuke vessel for 4 years).

That wouldn't be a bad career path for someone - enlist, go nuke, get GI bill to get a 4 year degree, and by age 25-26 you'd be qualified to earn $60k+. That beats the engineering career track I was on!

These Ops jobs are the ones the article is talking about, right?
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Old 06-06-2014, 09:04 PM   #5
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You are right about the operators -- the Auxiliary Operators, Reactor Operators and Senior Reactor Operators. Typically, they come from the Navy Nuclear Power Program, as I did. But there are many jobs at a nuclear plant outside the control room. There are people who plan the maintenance work, supervise refueling outages, conduct training, etc. They need chemists and health physicists and engineers, among others.

Making electricity is satisfying, socially useful work. And it pays well too.
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:25 PM   #6
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You are right about the operators -- the Auxiliary Operators, Reactor Operators and Senior Reactor Operators. Typically, they come from the Navy Nuclear Power Program, as I did. But there are many jobs at a nuclear plant outside the control room. There are people who plan the maintenance work, supervise refueling outages, conduct training, etc. They need chemists and health physicists and engineers, among others.

Making electricity is satisfying, socially useful work. And it pays well too.
My father used to work on the design side of nuke plants doing controls engineering for presumably the different water handling and electrical subsystems. That was back in the 80's and 90's, and I know they had overseas contracts (middle east? Thailand?).
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:34 AM   #7
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I have to admit, Gumby, that if I was a 20-something all over again with a college engineering degree (and perhaps a military service obligation) then I'd be tempted to go nuke. Apparently I have learned nothing.

There's a rumor that today's Navy pays a $15K nuclear accession bonus to officers upon commissioning. That's not "upon successful completion of nuclear power training"-- it's "before you report to your first duty station". If you inflation-adjust the nuke bonus that we got in the 1980s it'd be worth about $7300 in today's dollars, so the nuke accession bonus has doubled over the last 30 years. I'm still waiting for my daughter's report on what shows up in her next LES.

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My father used to work on the design side of nuke plants doing controls engineering for presumably the different water handling and electrical subsystems. That was back in the 80's and 90's, and I know they had overseas contracts (middle east? Thailand?).
Fukushima...

Seriously, my father spent time in Japan in the 1960s selling Westinghouse nuclear plants. But I believe that TEPCO went with a GE design.
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:49 AM   #8
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It is a bit of a crap shoot. Back when I was in college (early 80's), I had upper classmen friends who switched to EE from NukE because of the China Syndrome. The political winds were cold, so these guys got a degree that was more general. Very wise at the time, considering the winds went downright icy after Chernobyl. I did have some friends in NukE, but they were naval ROTC types. Very wise on their parts. All retired now.

But here we are, 30-35 years later, so it only makes sense that the vacuum is moving through the system.

Yet, it is still a crap shoot. Go directly NukE and and you may hit the jackpot if the political winds allow it. The tension between CO2 and Nuke is interesting, and I'm not sure how it will play out. We can't just drop nuclear. Heck, you are seeing this message courtesy of splitting atoms. My power comes directly from a nuclear plant.

I think it is a great idea, but perhaps hedge your bets and get a degree with a more general name on it. For instance, one can still get a degree in EE and have some nuke concentration in it.

And exploring the field if you have a general degree in physics or chemistry is a great idea. As the article says, they'll be training.
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Old 06-07-2014, 12:12 PM   #9
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That was my career path for almost 20 years. Was an enlisted Navy nuke electrician who did my six years and got out. Went to work as an AO and worked my way up to be a shift manager. No college degree required. The ops guys were always some of the highest paid positions on site. The constant stress takes it toll though and I opted to move into transmission operations for the last 13 years before I retired. Lots of ex nukes in that role also, again very well compensated for what we did. It worked for me and allowed me to pull the plug at 56 years old!

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Old 06-08-2014, 11:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
I have to admit, Gumby, that if I was a 20-something all over again with a college engineering degree (and perhaps a military service obligation) then I'd be tempted to go nuke. Apparently I have learned nothing.

There's a rumor that today's Navy pays a $15K nuclear accession bonus to officers upon commissioning. That's not "upon successful completion of nuclear power training"-- it's "before you report to your first duty station". If you inflation-adjust the nuke bonus that we got in the 1980s it'd be worth about $7300 in today's dollars, so the nuke accession bonus has doubled over the last 30 years. I'm still waiting for my daughter's report on what shows up in her next LES.


Fukushima...

Seriously, my father spent time in Japan in the 1960s selling Westinghouse nuclear plants. But I believe that TEPCO went with a GE design.

When I signed, it was $10,000, with another $5,000 upon completion of prototype. We get $30,000/year on contract as officers after initial term is up. I signed in 1999, and will soon submit a new five year letter.

I went into ROTC wanting to fly. When I couldn't pass the physical, I took my Aerospace Engineering degree and went nuke. It has been tough, but making that extra money over fifteen years will definitely give me another leg up on ER and allowing me a lot more freedom in my 40s.

Plus, it is pretty cool to tell people that I got bored with "rocket science" so I moved to Nuclear Engineering.
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:55 PM   #11
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Well, I am a nuclear rocket scientist. Or at least that is what I jokingly tell people. I work on the "other nukes" and the related systems, the ones that make big mushroom clouds. While at this point in my career it has served me well, I would not recommend a new graduate to get into this specific subset of nuclear engineering. Too much gov't administrative BS, and why go into a declining field? On top of that the old system had good golden handcuffs and interesting work. No longer, now the pay and benefits are lucky to keep up with any other commercial position. Pensions are gone for new employees, while health care and other benefits have as much or more employee contribution. No bonuses or stock options. Thanks to treaties and gov't reductions on spending there is a smaller and less diverse pie to be distributed. Obviously all of the funding is from Uncle Sam.

There are a lot of ex-Navy nuke guys that end up in the area I am working. I actually started out with my degree in Metallurgical Engineering and went into the aerospace side of things before the change to nukes. Not unhappy that I moved to the nukes, but I would have a hard time to recommend this sub-field to any new college graduate.

I wish we would have more nuke energy plants, I believe it is a better choice for lower overall energy costs. Especially vs alternative energy like solar or wind. The environmental issues of nukes have good engineering solutions and are less total impact to environment than some of the alternatives. Since we have not built new nuke plants it seems reasonable that the workforce that was originally hired is now retiring and it has created opportunities for new graduates to take their place.
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Old 06-08-2014, 01:34 PM   #12
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I have exactly zero nuke training. Did work a short time at San Onofre #1, outside od San Celemente CA, decomissioned some time ago.

Plenty of work int the related communications, intrusion detections and other ancillary areas requiring electronics knowledge. Did have routine unhampered access to the reactror control room. Did not like the place one bit.

The most scary sound of the plant was one morning when the hum of megawatts generator's pervasive hum slowly disappeared as reactor tripped offline and two of three huge diesel generators kicked on providing power for control room, cooling etc..

In those days removed eqipment from the reactor building was stored outside with yellow tape marking the radiation area. As if the raditaion paid attention to the yellow tape.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:06 PM   #13
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Plus, it is pretty cool to tell people that I got bored with "rocket science" so I moved to Nuclear Engineering.
In college, I was halfway between rocket science and nuclear engineering.

By that, I mean the aerospace engineering building was west of my building, and the nuclear reactor and nuclear engineering classrooms were just north of my building. I was studying lowly civil engineering.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:12 PM   #14
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I'd tell my kids to go into the Financial Services industry. I hear they make a lot of money.
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Old 06-09-2014, 11:53 AM   #15
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In those days removed eqipment from the reactor building was stored outside with yellow tape marking the radiation area. As if the raditaion paid attention to the yellow tape.
It was the magic radiation barrier tape

Actually, radiation falls off with the square of the distance, so the tape was probably set at the distance where it was safe for personnel exposure. Outside the tape boundary you are OK, inside would require some extra protection measures. The type of radiation depends on what type protection measures are required and effective.
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