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Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

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What You Need to Know About Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

Occupation 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.

A Day in the Life of a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

  • Authorize maintenance activities on units or changes in equipment or system operational status.
  • Supervise technicians’ work activities to ensure that equipment is operated in accordance with policies and procedures that protect workers from radiation and ensure environmental safety.
  • Monitor or operate boilers, turbines, wells, or auxiliary power plant equipment.
  • Monitor all systems for normal running conditions, performing activities such as checking gauges to assess output or the effects of generator loading on other equipment.
  • Operate nuclear power reactors in accordance with policies and procedures to protect workers from radiation and to ensure environmental safety.
  • Direct measurement of the intensity or types of radiation in work areas, equipment, or materials.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator Skills

These are the skills Nuclear Power Reactor Operators say are the most useful in their careers:

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

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

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

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

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.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

  • Equipment Operator
  • Reactor Operator (RO)
  • Nuclear Control Room Non-Licensed Operator
  • Nuclear Operator
  • Licensed Nuclear Control Room Operator

Is There Job Demand for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators?

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 7,000 jobs in the United States for Nuclear Power Reactor Operator. There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Nuclear Power Reactor Operator. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 500 job openings in this field each year.


The states with the most job growth for Nuclear Power Reactor Operator are Washington, Idaho, and Nebraska. Watch out if you plan on working in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Illinois. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator Salary

The average yearly salary of a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator ranges between $68,200 and $127,370.


Nuclear Power Reactor Operators who work in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, or Mississippi, make the highest salaries.

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

State Annual Mean Salary
Illinois $87,340
Mississippi $97,040
North Carolina $101,520
Pennsylvania $106,870
South Carolina $80,490
Tennessee $90,190

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 Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Access
  • Data logging software

Becoming a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

Learn what Nuclear Power Reactor Operator education requirements there are.


How many years of work experience do I need?


Where do Nuclear Power Reactor Operators Work?


Below are examples of industries where Nuclear Power Reactor Operators work:



Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Siuta B. Ika via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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