5 Duties of a Nuclear Technician

nuclear technician

  • Monitor the Performance of Equipment
  • Measure Levels and Types of Radiation
  • Collect Samples and Test for Radioactive Contamination
  • Instruct People on Radiological Safety
  • Operate and Maintain Radiation Monitoring Equipment

A person considering a career in nuclear power plant operations or nuclear research should be aware of the top five duties of a nuclear technician. The technicians assist nuclear engineers and nuclear physicists with the operations of a power plant, safety, or research activities. Knowing the five main duties of a nuclear technician could help a person decide if their skills and aptitude match with what is required of this type of career.

Monitor the Performance of Equipment

Nuclear technicians are responsible for monitoring the routine operations in a nuclear power plant. This also includes participating in safety drills and tests. The technicians also monitor the performance of laboratory equipment in nuclear physics and medicine research settings. They may participate in conducting experiments related to nuclear energy production or research and monitor the equipment during the experiments.

Measure Levels and Types of Radiation

During the routine operations of a nuclear power plant, the nuclear technicians monitor the energy output and types of radiation released by the power plant. In a research setting, they also monitor the output quantity and type of an experiment relate to nuclear physics or medicine. They keep careful logs on computer databases and back them up so that engineers, physicists and regulatory authorities can review them as needed.

Collect Samples and Test for Radioactive Contamination

Federal and state environmental and nuclear regulatory authorities require any facility that uses nuclear isotopes to keep careful track of radioactive releases and contamination. A nuclear technician may be responsible for collecting samples of air, water or soil in or around a nuclear power plant or nuclear physics research center. If contamination is suspected at an old site, nuclear technicians may be sent there for sample collection. They may also visit hospitals in order to test for contamination. This is because hospitals may conduct radiological testing for biological functions of the gallbladder, thyroid and other organs.

Instruct People on Radiological Safety

Whether they work in a nuclear power plant, a research laboratory or a governmental agency, nuclear technicians provide instruction on radiation safety procedures. For example, they might do educational classes at hospitals and universities in order to teach employees how to safely handle the waste from experiments or medical testing. Nuclear technicians show people how to use instruments that monitor radiation, such as Geiger counters. They also teach the other employees of nuclear power plants and research laboratories on how to identify hazardous conditions. Nuclear technicians are expected to keep safety records and report any hazards to the appropriate state and federal regulatory authorities.

Operate and Maintain Radiation Monitoring Equipment

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, another one of the five duties of a nuclear technician involves operating radiation monitoring equipment. The types of equipment include the portable Geiger counters and the badges that workers wear on their clothes for counting radiation exposure levels. Nuclear technicians must also be able to maintain radiation monitoring equipment, including Geiger counters, proportional counters and ionization chambers. They should keep details of when a Geiger counter, scintillation detector or air particulate radioactivity monitoring station was serviced and when it was last calibrated. These maintenance activities are essential to the effective and precise measurement of radiation levels.


The work of a nuclear technician expands knowledge of nuclear physics and safety. It also helps ensure a safe and consistent supply of nuclear power at the nation’s nuclear energy plants. Knowing the primary five duties of a nuclear technician facilitates the selection of a major of study and the type of job setting that a person may want to choose.

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