Employment of nuclear engineers is expected to grow 10 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment trends in power generation may be favorable because of the likely need to upgrade safety systems at powerplants. These engineers also will find work in creating designs for powerplants to be built abroad and in the growing field of nuclear medicine.
Utilities that own or build nuclear powerplants have traditionally employed the greatest number of nuclear engineers. Potential new guidelines from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) may affect that employment. Recent events might cause the NRC to issue guidelines for upgrading safety protocols at nuclear utility plants. Those upgrades may spur employment. However, the upgrades also could raise the cost of building new nuclear powerplants, and that might limit new plant construction.
Still, nuclear engineers will be hired to design and help build nuclear powerplants outside the United States.
Developments in nuclear medicine and diagnostic imaging also are expected to drive demand for nuclear engineers. These engineers will be needed to help build and operate cyclotrons, which produce a high-energy beam that the healthcare industry uses to treat cancerous tumors.
Job prospects are expected to be relatively favorable for this occupation because many in the aging workforce will retire. The small number of nuclear engineering graduates is likely to be in rough balance with the number of job openings. In addition, training in new fields, such as nuclear medicine, should help to improve a person’s chances of finding a job.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition