How Do I Become a Nuclear Technician?

Individuals interested in the nuclear science or nuclear technology fields often ask how do I become a nuclear technician? A nuclear technician provides assistance to engineers, physicists, and related professionals in the nuclear energy program and nuclear research fields. He or she operates special equipment to monitor radiation levels. The steps to become a nuclear technician include an associate degree, professional certification, extensive on the job training, and acquisition of specific skills.

Associate Degree

The first step in answering how do I become a nuclear technician is completing an associate degree in nuclear science, nuclear technology, or related area. Students gain an understanding of nuclear energy and radiation and the related tools and equipment used in nuclear power plants and similar areas. They learn about nuclear power history, radiation detection instrumentation, emergency planning, and implementation of radiation protection methods. Students commonly complete courses in chemistry, mathematics, nuclear physics, fluid mechanics, nuclear engineering technology, and radiation safety. Most programs require the completion of at least 60 credit hours.

Professional Certification

Professional certification in nuclear science is recommended for to become a nuclear technician. Students can gain the Industrial Radiography and Radiation Safety Personnel certification from the American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Registered Radiation Protection Technologist from the National Registry of Radiation Protection Technologists, and a professional certificate from the Nuclear Uniform Curriculum Program from the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Extensive on the Job Training

After completion of a degree program and/or professional certification, individuals seeking to become nuclear technicians typically need to engage in extensive training on the job. They begin as trainees completing tasks under careful observation of experienced technicians. They learn the correct techniques of using monitoring and operating equipment. They also learn safety procedures, policies of the plant or laboratory, and regulations. The duration of training depends on the education depends on the individual’s prior education and experience. In general, training lasts between six months and two years. Nuclear technicians also complete regular training throughout their careers to stay up to date on advances in the nuclear science field.

Specialized Skills

Specialized skills are necessary to become a competent and successful nuclear technician. Effective communication abilities are needed to receive and convey complex instructions, explain work to other nuclear professionals, and instruct others on safety procedures and hazardous conditions. Computer skills are needed for plant operations and documentation of activities. Good critical thinking abilities are very essential since nuclear technicians carefully assess all information before making a sound decision. Math skills are needed since nuclear technicians use mathematical and scientific formulas to evaluate production and experimental data, such as radiation exposures and rates of reactions. A strong mechanical aptitude is vital because nuclear technicians need a solid understanding of how nuclear facilities operate to make adjustments and equipment repairs to maintain a safe working atmosphere. Monitoring skills are necessary since nuclear technicians evaluate data from gauges, sensors, and similar instruments to ensure experiments and equipment are operating effectively and adequately controlling levels of radiation.

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Working in the nuclear science field is intense and it is ideal for those who possess the necessary education, certification, and skills to ensure safe and effective operation of nuclear environments. Understanding the necessary steps is essential for answering how to become a nuclear technician.