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Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

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All About Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Job Description & Duties 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.
  • Develop or implement actions such as lockouts, tagouts, or clearances to allow equipment to be safely repaired.
  • Dispatch orders or instructions to personnel through radiotelephone or intercommunication systems to coordinate auxiliary equipment operation.
  • Adjust controls to position rod and to regulate flux level, reactor period, coolant temperature, or rate of power flow, following standard procedures.
  • Identify or direct implementation of appropriate decontamination procedures, based on equipment and the size, nature, and type of contamination.
  • Review and edit standard operating procedures.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator Needed Skills

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

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.

  • Control Room Officer
  • Licensed Reactor Operator
  • Senior Reactor Operator
  • Nuclear Reactor Operator
  • Nuclear Control Room Non-Licensed Operator

Is There Job Demand for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators?

In the United States, there were 7,000 jobs for Nuclear Power Reactor Operator in 2016. There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Nuclear Power Reactor Operator. There will be an estimated 500 positions for Nuclear Power Reactor Operator per 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.

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.


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

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators in different U.S. states.

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

What Tools do Nuclear Power Reactor Operators Use?

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

What education is needed to be a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator?


What work experience do I need to become a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator?


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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