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Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

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What Does it Take to Be a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator?

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator Job 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.

Life As a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator: What Do They Do?

  • Review and edit standard operating procedures.
  • Adjust controls to position rod and to regulate flux level, reactor period, coolant temperature, or rate of power flow, following standard procedures.
  • Dispatch orders or instructions to personnel through radiotelephone or intercommunication systems to coordinate auxiliary equipment operation.
  • Record operating data, such as the results of surveillance tests.
  • 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.
  • Participate in nuclear fuel element handling activities, such as preparation, transfer, loading, or unloading.

Skills Needed to be a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

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.

Other Nuclear Power Reactor Operator Job Titles

  • Control Room Operator
  • Licensed Nuclear Control Room Operator
  • Unit Reactor Operator
  • Nuclear Supervising Operator (NSO)
  • Nuclear Control Operator

Job Demand for Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

There were about 7,000 jobs for Nuclear Power Reactor Operator in 2016 (in the United States). 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

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators make between $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

Tools & Technologies Used by Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Nuclear Power Reactor Operators may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Access
  • Data logging software

Becoming a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

Individuals working as a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator have obtained the following education levels:


How many years of work experience do I need?


Where 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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