Typically, a minimum of four years of college is required for becoming a nuclear engineer. Many employers will expect you to have at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering if you want to become a nuclear engineer, while others may prefer job candidates who possess advanced degrees instead. You may choose to study nuclear, mechanical, or chemical engineering in undergraduate school and then go on to study nuclear engineering in pursuit of a master’s or doctoral degree. Hands-on training may also help you to prepare for success in this career. Additionally, many jurisdictions have licensing requirements for nuclear engineers.
You can start preparing to become a nuclear engineer while you are still in high school. Taking classes in advanced sciences while you are in high school may prepare you well for a career in this field. Math skills are also important for this career, so taking advanced math courses may provide critical preparation. A high school diploma is usually preferable when you are seeking admission to college to study engineering, but a general educational development (GED) diploma is usually acceptable as well.
Once you have enrolled in a college or university, you will usually have to seek a bachelor’s degree in engineering to become a nuclear engineer. If the school you attend offers a bachelor’s degree program in nuclear engineering, this may be a good choice for pursuing a career in this field. You do not have to earn a nuclear engineering degree to begin a career in nuclear engineering, however. You may also be well qualified for this job if you earn a degree in chemical or mechanical engineering instead.
Some employers may have a preference for new nuclear engineers who have advanced engineering degrees in addition to undergraduate-level degrees. For example, you may earn a master’s or doctoral degree in nuclear engineering or a related major. A master’s degree in mechanical engineering, for instance, may be just as suitable as you work to become a nuclear engineer.
You will likely need hands-on training and licensing to become a nuclear engineer. You may get this training through an internship or college training program. Many employers offer on-the-job training as well. Your college education will likely fulfill some of your jurisdiction’s licensing requirements, but you may also have to pass an exam. Additionally, you may need a security clearance to work on some types of projects in this field.