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Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

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Life As a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

Career Description Operate or control nuclear reactors. Move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, and record data in logs. Implement emergency procedures when needed. May respond to abnormalities, determine cause, and recommend corrective action.

Daily Life Of a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

  • Direct reactor operators in emergency situations, in accordance with emergency operating procedures.
  • Implement operational procedures, such as those controlling start-up or shut-down activities.
  • Authorize actions to correct identified operational inefficiencies or hazards so that operating efficiency is maximized and potential environmental issues are minimized.
  • Monitor or operate boilers, turbines, wells, or auxiliary power plant equipment.
  • Note malfunctions of equipment, instruments, or controls and report these conditions to supervisors.
  • Dispatch orders or instructions to personnel through radiotelephone or intercommunication systems to coordinate auxiliary equipment operation.

Skills Needed to be a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

Below is a list of the skills most Nuclear Power Reactor Operators say are important on the job.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Types of Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

  • Control Room Operator
  • Nuclear Power Plant Process Control Worker
  • Nuclear Control Room Non-Licensed Operator
  • Licensed Reactor Operator
  • Reactor Operator (RO)

Job Opportunities for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 7,000 jobs in the United States for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator jobs are decreasing by a rate of -10.2%. This means the total job opportunities are shrinking. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a loss of -700 jobs for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 500 job openings in this field each year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators are Idaho, Washington, and Nebraska.

Watch out if you plan on working in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, or North Carolina. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Do Nuclear Power Reactor Operators Make A Lot Of Money?

The salary for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators ranges between about $68,200 and $127,370 a year. A Nuclear Power Reactor Operator median salary is $94,350.

Salary Ranges for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

How much do Nuclear Power Reactor Operators make in each U.S. state?

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary



North Carolina








South Carolina


Tools & Technologies Used by Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Nuclear Power Reactor Operators:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Excel

How do I Become a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator?

Education needed to be a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator:

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator Work Experience

Where do Nuclear Power Reactor Operators Work?

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator Sectors


Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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