The energy industry remains lucrative, even in a struggling economic climate. However, sometimes the definitive figures of how much those within the industry earn can be difficult to find. What is the median wage energy specialist can expect to earn? We begin with the nuclear industry.
The salaries mentioned may not include overtime, bonus packages or incentives.
1.) Entry-Level Engineer
Median Salary: $56,587
An entry-level engineer at a nuclear power plant has a wide range of responsibilities. This may include troubleshooting operations, monitoring and improving plant systems, identifying degradation issues and seeking out solutions to improve general conditions.
Often, entry-level engineers must possess a degree in engineering or an equivalent qualification. Certificates gained through training on the job may also be required -- as well as a need to continue formal training.
2.) Senior Engineer
Median Salary: $65,100
Mid-career average: $97,800
A senior engineer takes responsibility for coordinating and implementing programs and engineering projects. They may also act as specialists in particular engineering fields. Duties may include carrying out advanced engineering tasks, taking responsibility for the training of entry-level staff, reviews, general management, and research. Senior engineers also provide expertise in technology development, plant safety, reliability issues and maintainability.
A degree or higher in engineering is required, and Professional Engineering Registration is often preferred. Interestingly, nuclear companies are known to hire experienced engineers from all manner of industries.
James Madison, President of CoolHandNuke.com, a vacancies website for nuclear professionals, predicts that there will be an increased need for nuclear engineers that could mean more lucrative salaries in the future.
"Over the course of the next 10 plus years, these engineers will start being paid very, very well, and the benefits packages are already the best of any industry."
3.) Mechanical Technician
Median Salary: $66,581
A mechanical technician performs maintenance on nuclear plant systems, which may include preventative measures, corrections, reliability improvements and also implementing safety improvements.
A high school diploma is generally required, and some employers insist on an Associates degree. Experienced applicants are preferred.
4.) Electrical Technician
Median Salary: $67,517
An electrical technician is required to repair and maintain complex electronic systems for a nuclear plant. This may include troubleshooting, testing and inspections. Technicians are expected to be able to work with motors, generators, transformers and circuits.
A high school diploma is required.
5.) Instrumentation and Control Technician
Median Salary: $72,238
An Instrumentation and Control technician holds responsibilities for keeping nuclear power plant controls at peak performance and reliability. They are required to inspect, calibrate, troubleshoot and maintain operational controls.
A high school diploma is required, and often employers insist on professional certification or extensive work experience.
6.) Chemistry Technician
Median Salary: $70,990
A chemistry technician records radioactivity levels in plants, and is expected to operate equipment associated with chemistry control and conditions. They must be able to continually evaluate nuclear power plant conditions and enforce corrections as required.
A high school diploma is required, with specializations in science and mathematics. In addition, applicants are required to possess work experience and pass necessary training courses.
7.) Radiation Protection Technician
Median Salary: $69,056
Radiation technicians are responsible for recording radiation levels and activity, and they must also service and maintain relevant equipment. These technicians play an incredibly important role in ensuring the safety of employees, as well as making sure the plant complies with legal radiation legislation.
A high school diploma is required, with specializations in science and mathematics. In addition, applicants need to have some work experience and pass formal training courses.
8.) Non-Licensed Operator
Median Salary: $70,793
A non-licensed operator, who is not licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, holds a supportive roll for licensed reactor operators. Duties may include valve control, working with electronic breakers and monitoring plant equipment.
A high school diploma is required, together with previous experience. In addition, applicants may be expected to hold an Associates degree.
9.) Reactor Operator
Median Salary: $77,782
A reactor operator, who has earned their U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license, is responsible for the operation of a reactor itself. This includes moving control rods, operating plant equipment, managing operation procedures and conducting tests.
A high school diploma is required, as well as up to five years of work experience and previous training. In addition, applicants are required to possess a valid U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reactor Operator license.
10.) Senior Reactor Operator
Median Salary: $85,426
A Senior reactor operator is responsible for making sure the plant runs in accordance to regulations. They are responsible for managing and operating the plant's mechanical, electrical and reactor systems, and ensuring the plant operates safely on all levels.
A high school diploma is required, as well as up to five years of work experience and previous training. In addition, applicants are required to possess a valid U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reactor Operator license. A Bachelor's degree may also be required.
Image credit: Claus Rebler/Flickr
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