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Which would be best for someone who wants to start as an NLO and eventually be a licensed RO or SRO?

two-year nuclear technical degree
6 (50%)
four-year bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering
6 (50%)

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Author Topic: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!  (Read 30480 times)

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Duke Nukem

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Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« on: Feb 26, 2014, 05:30 »
Hello all,

I've been browsing your forums for some time regarding work in the Nuclear Power field have a question of my own, but a little background first...

I have a BA in History and after realizing my heart wasn't in it (and there are few to zero jobs available anyway for people with a history degree), I now wish to earn a 2nd Bachelor's degree in Nuclear Engineering (Yes, there are a few universities out there that will grant you a second Bachelor's degree, like NCSU) as I've always been more interested in science than the humanities.

I'm currently taking community college classes in California to play catch-up on the math. I took the chemistry required, and am currently in Calculus. We'll see how upper level math stuff goes as I progress through the coursework in the coming semesters.

MY GOAL IS TO START WORKING AT A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE (ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY).

I know the BS in NE is a bit of overkill to work at a power plant. I don't want to design stuff, I just want to work at a plant, preferably directly with the reactor/fuel rods itself.

Because of this, I've started to question the idea of transferring to NCSU to earn a full-on Bachelor's Degree if there's a faster way to start work a.s.a.p. at a power plant. I know NCSU has a reactor on campus and a program for earning your NRC operator's license, but that's contingent on earning the full Bachelor's degree.

Salaried Nuclear Engineer, Hourly Operator, or Technician, I don't care. I love all things Nuclear and want to start work at a plant. My problem is that I just lack direction/experience.

Can anyone recommend a course of action for the most direct path to working with a reactor? Perhaps a good community college that has a good internship or coop program?

(Unfortunately, the Navy isn't an option, though that would have been a nice path I'm sure).

Recommendations? Anyone?

Thank you,

 - Duke Nukem

Offline SpaceJustice

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #1 on: Feb 27, 2014, 03:05 »
A bachelor's of Nuclear Engineering is not overkill for operations.  We have several AOs with engineering degrees, physics degrees, etc.  I think someone from the new class even has a master's in psychology.  Just because they aren't engineers doesn't mean that they have less education.

Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #2 on: Feb 27, 2014, 07:58 »
Interesting, thank you. Well, glad to know that even if I do tough it out through the entire Bachelor's Degree, it's not over-the-top for operations and technician jobs.

Any idea how to get one's foot in the door?

From what I've read elsewhere, a lot of people don't get called back after applying to stuff because of the dreaded "no experience, no thank you," line. Someone suggested getting a job as anything at the power plant (security, janitor, whatever), and then applying internally once another position opens up.

Any idea if plants outsource security/janitorial services, or hire in-house?

Fermi2

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #3 on: Feb 27, 2014, 08:44 »
Wanna bet all your answers are here if you show some ambition and search?

DSO

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #4 on: Feb 27, 2014, 11:20 »
All that edumication wont do anything for your lack of operational experience when compared to thousands of other more qualified individuals. I want to win a lottery ANYWHERE, but isnt gonna happen. Home Depot and Walmart have some great management training programs.
« Last Edit: Feb 27, 2014, 11:21 by DSO »

Offline ATLNuke

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #5 on: Feb 28, 2014, 12:50 »
Despite the sarcasm, you'll get a lot of great advice on this site. Like Broad said, a lot of these questions are already answered.

I recently graduated with a degree in Nuke Engineering at a school very comparable to NCSU. I had no other relevant operational experience beyond that and was asked to interview at 3/4 plants I applied at for NLO. I took the job I wanted and I am now close to being a fully qualified NLO at that plant.

Is a NukE degree overkill for OPS? It depends on what you mean. You do learn things in that degree that are well above and beyond anything you need to know in the day to day processes of the plant. To be honest, my degree has helped very very little so far in this part of the job. Operational experience is definitely very important. That said, having a NukE degree does demonstrate some value to employers that you are capable of making it through their training program and becoming a qualified NLO. A lot of guys here will talk down to people without experience, but everyone has to start somewhere. You need to understand that having a degree doesn't mean crap in a plant other than it proves you have potential.

If you already have one degree and are just looking for something to get your foot in the door, I would recommend a tech school like Linn State. I know quite a few people who graduated from there who work at my (Exelon) plant who make six figures within a year without much more experience.

Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #6 on: Mar 09, 2014, 04:42 »
Thank you ATLNuke for the information. I know you probably have no experience in this, but do you know if all tech colleges are created equal (more or less)? Say, perhaps other community colleges such as Midlands Tech in SC or Augusta Tech in GA which also offer nuclear tech 2-year degrees? Or do nuclear plants only favor people from certain community/technical colleges and not others?

Offline hamsamich

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #7 on: Mar 09, 2014, 06:13 »
Some plants like certain CCs because they might have a deal with them to hire or give preference to, especially local, like for instance Aiken Tech and SRS.

Offline cheme09

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #8 on: Mar 10, 2014, 10:32 »
One thing you can do if you're pursuing a BS in engineering (nuke, mech, elec, etc) is apply for internships and/or co-ops when you can. If you want to get into the nuke industry, apply at power stations, shipyards, national labs, and vendors (areva, b&w, bechtel, etc). The benefits of having internship experiences are three fold: 1) you're making decent money 2) you're learning what the various jobs of the industry entail which will help you discern where you want to go 3) you become more marketable upong graduation.

Your enthusiasm is evident, but so is your ignorance of working in a technical/manufacturing industry. Saying "I want to work with the reactor" doesn't really mean much. It's almost like a saying "I want to work with cars".  Well you could be an auto mechanic, a factory worker, or an engineer amongst other things. If you go engineering, there is safety engineering, mechanical engineering, system engineering, engineering specific to engine design, electrical engineering, etc.

You said you want to work with the fuel rods. Well what exactly do you want to do? Ops moves fuel. Engineering receives new fuel and performs inspections. Engineering also performs core design to tell Ops where each fuel assembly goes. Do you want to make fuel? You'll have to look past utilies and look torwards GE or AREVA or a national lab that does fuel research.

For some jobs, an engineering degree is not needed. But it doesn't hurt to have one. Also, being in school allows you time to find different internships so you can begin to figure out what it really is you want to do.

Good luck to you in whatever you decide.

Offline ddickey

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #9 on: Mar 10, 2014, 10:42 »
Thank you ATLNuke for the information. I know you probably have no experience in this, but do you know if all tech colleges are created equal (more or less)? Say, perhaps other community colleges such as Midlands Tech in SC or Augusta Tech in GA which also offer nuclear tech 2-year degrees? Or do nuclear plants only favor people from certain community/technical colleges and not others?
http://www.nei.org/CorporateSite/media/filefolder/Policy/NUCP/NUCPschools.pdf?ext=.pdf

Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #10 on: Mar 12, 2014, 09:58 »
Thank you one and all for the responses.

I spoke with one of the educators at one of the technical community colleges and he told me that power companies usually get their Licensed Operators from the ranks of people with full on bachelor's degrees in nuclear engineering.

BUT.... I thought that the RO position didn't require a degree.

Can't I go through a 2 year technical college, get hired as a NLO, and later take the NRC operator's license test?

Or do I HAVE to get a bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering?

Fermi2

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #11 on: Mar 12, 2014, 10:28 »
Your teacher is clueless. About 90% of the licensed operators of all types are non degreed. Of those who are degreed I have known only two with nuke degrees.

Fermi2

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #12 on: Mar 12, 2014, 10:30 »
You can get hired as an NLO without any degree at all . Then get an RO license . This is the normal path.

Offline a|F

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #13 on: Mar 13, 2014, 11:18 »
Internships are a biggie with my company.  We love love love to hire our own interns before they even graduate.  Get a four year engineering degree and then you will screen for all entry level positions - system or design engineer, nuke engineer, NLO, janitor, etc.  My company doesn't even look at you unless you have a degree or navy background.  And yes, the two-year nuclear technician is a way to get your foot in the door. 

As for licensing, expect to have to be an NLO for a few years (up to 12 at my site) before you go to licensing class.  Or get that 4 year degree done, be an NLO for 2-3 years (I forget the exact requirement) and jump to SRO.  Amazingly enough, the quickest movers within our site seem to be the guys who do a few years as NLO and then jump to another department- maintenance, planning, work control, etc.

My thought:  there is no replacement for ops experience.  You either know how the whole plant works or you don't.  Every site wants former operators in all levels and departments, because that experience matters.  The problem you'll find is that NLO's often make more than the first line supervisors in other departments, and therefore they take a pay cut to move to another position.  A small sacrifice for getting on shift and moving forward with your career.

One last thing.  Spend a few hours reading through the threads on this site before asking another question.  Good luck.

Fermi2

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #14 on: Mar 13, 2014, 02:51 »
Plus every question he asked after the first one was answered already with just some situational awareness on the opening page...

This is strange. Both the plants I worked at had interns. I don't ever remember any getting hired.

Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #15 on: Mar 13, 2014, 07:25 »

Thinking out loud:

Given the fact that schooling is going to cost a fortune (in terms of both time and money) as I live in a state without an NE degree program, I'm hesitant to go the route of the NE 4-year degree.

NCSU has a class (NE-235) that allows you to be a full time student and take the test for your operator's license before you graduate, but like I said... time and money (and supporting myself). The degree overall sounds nice, but I don't want to be an engineer at all. I want to be an operator. NLO, RO, SRO, I'll work my way up. Just not a salaried engineer.

A two year community college would be a quicker way to get into the industry, but I'm worried that it wouldn't be enough to secure employment as an NLO, since I know I'm also in competition with navy nukes and guys who do have bachelor's degrees in NE but aren't shooting for engineering jobs.

I know I limit myself by going through a technical school instead of getting the bachelor's degree, but at the same time, if it's not required... then why bother? On the other hand, if HR departments are as notoriously picky as they seem, and want to hire someone with a PhD for the lowliest position at the plant, then perhaps the NE degree is the way to go?

I think it's time to put it to a vote. Hopefully the poll I posted will show up.




_____________________________ _________________________
And since I don't seem to be able to shake it, let me add this:

Despite all the information available in prior threads, it's very time consuming to sift through years worth of threads, and it seems extremely rude that a lot of the people on here would rather tell you to stop asking questions and just refer you to an answer in a thread from 2007, rather than simply answer the question you asked. If you don't have anything to contribute, that's fine. Do you really need to be chided like a little kid to not shout insults at someone you perceive as dumb for not having the time to look through tons of threads? Everyone who asks a question here is looking for something slightly different, so maybe that thread from 2011 or 2004 doesn't have the exact answer the inquirer wanted. I came here for info, not to be ridiculed for not having hours to spare looking through page after page of old threads.

Sorry to rant. I know it's repetitive to clog the forums with newer versions of the same questions, but at the same time, that ensures there's a steady stream of updated topics, so it's not all a bad thing.

Fermi2

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #16 on: Mar 13, 2014, 07:29 »
YOU CANNOT take an exam for an Operators License BEFORE you graduate College.

DANG. DO READ what is posted here?

Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #17 on: Mar 13, 2014, 07:41 »
YOU CANNOT take an exam for an Operators License BEFORE you graduate College.

DANG. DO READ what is posted here?


Indeed I "do read" what is posted here. Do you? Since your answer is so vague, ("college"), not specifying 2-year tech school or bachelor's degree, I'm inclined to continue asking questions until the answer I get is crystal clear.

If you're referring specifically to NCSU and their operator's license pipeline class, then yes, I already know you can't take the exam before you graduate with your bachelor's degree. Them's the rules for that particular path.

However, that's also not what I asked. I'm asking if I can eventually take the licensing exam with only a 2-year technical degree under my belt. Since there are apparently plenty of licensed RO's and SRO's out there who have naught but an HS diploma, I'd assume the answer is, "Yes, you CAN take the operator's license exam without a bachelor's degree."

At this point, I'm just looking for peoples' opinions: Which DO YOU (you meaning anyone) personally think would be the better option? Go to a technical college to get a 2-year degree and try to get a job as an instrumentation/control figure or NLO (eventually earning the operator's license), or go the whole nine yards and earn a second bachelor's degree in Nuclear Engineering, knowing it's over the top and costs a fortune, but will set me up with an operator's license and a wider selection of jobs?

Fermi2

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #18 on: Mar 13, 2014, 07:48 »
Try the search function.
Some advise. Right now you are being a self involved snowflake and do you notice none of the SROs here are replying?
The reason  why expect. No demand some research. All your answers already reside here..
Now SEARCH...

Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #19 on: Mar 13, 2014, 08:32 »
Try the search function.
Some advise. Right now you are being a self involved snowflake and do you notice none of the SROs here are replying?
The reason  why expect. No demand some research. All your answers already reside here..
Now SEARCH...


Try reading my disclaimer in small print under one of my prior posts in this thread. I don't care to sift through threads over the past 13 years that may or may not have outdated answers or may not have quite the answer I want. It's a forum. I can ask questions if I want. Now then, if you have nothing else useful to contribute beyond ridicule and insults, I'll thank you to quit talking on my thread. No one likes rudeness.

Update: The instructor I spoke to at one of the technical schools has informed me that, at present, most utilities (Southern Electric at least) are currently (as of 2014) seeking fully degreed individuals with engineering degrees for even the lowly NLO jobs. Boloney? Truth? Not sure?

Anyone on the inside want to verify that new claim or refute it?
« Last Edit: Mar 13, 2014, 08:36 by Duke Nukem »

Offline a|F

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #20 on: Mar 13, 2014, 09:09 »

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #21 on: Mar 13, 2014, 09:19 »
Try reading my disclaimer in small print under one of my prior posts in this thread. I don't care to sift through threads over the past 13 years that may or may not have outdated answers or may not have quite the answer I want. It's a forum. I can ask questions if I want. Now then, if you have nothing else useful to contribute beyond ridicule and insults, I'll thank you to quit talking on my thread. No one likes rudeness.

Update: The instructor I spoke to at one of the technical schools has informed me that, at present, most utilities (Southern Electric at least) are currently (as of 2014) seeking fully degreed individuals with engineering degrees for even the lowly NLO jobs. Boloney? Truth? Not sure?

Anyone on the inside want to verify that new claim or refute it?


I can only speak for my plant, which is a single unit site and the only nuke in the company.  We just hired a class of NLO's near the end of last year.  At least 3 have Associate Degrees from a technical college program, 1 or 2 are ex-Navy, and one was a NLO from another plant.  It obviously depends on the plant, company, and area.

For those who are having a tough time remembering why we're here and can't seem to do more than say "Search" or belittle those asking questions, give it a break please.  NONE of us started out knowing everything, and NONE of us know everything now, but between us all we know a lot.  Either share, or don't post.  You're not helping if you're doing anything else.
"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge."

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Offline Joe_Fission

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #22 on: Mar 13, 2014, 10:51 »
One thing I would say is if you go the full engineering degree route, don't take nuclear engineering. I would take mechanical and use your electives for nuclear related courses.

Nuclear engineering could pigeonhole you slightly and mechanical will teach you everything you need to know, theory wise, to get a job as an entry level engineer or an NLO. The reactor is just a small part of a huge plant that has many systems operating. There is the entire thermal side of the plant (pumps, valves, electronics, condensers, turbines, chemistry control) that don't directly involve anything to do with fission. A broader skilled degree gives you more job opportunities after school if nuclear doesn't initially work out.

And like others have said, get as much internship/co-op experience as you can if you go to school. Prior experience and a history of being a valuable employee in prior jobs goes a long way.

Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #23 on: Mar 14, 2014, 12:27 »
Nuclear engineering could pigeonhole you slightly and mechanical will teach you everything you need to know, theory wise, to get a job as an entry level engineer or an NLO.

Mechanical, eh? Well, we shall see. From what I've seen in the NCSU course curriculum, I suppose there are a lot of "reactor design" oriented classes in the nuclear engineering degree track. Not something I want to get involved in. But I very much DO want to get involved in their Nuclear Reactor Training program since it offers the chance to do p/t work and the opportunity to take the operator license test by graduation time. I'm not sure if your degree has to be NE if you want to take that route, though.

At least 3 have Associate Degrees from a technical college program, 1 or 2 are ex-Navy, and one was a NLO from another plant.  It obviously depends on the plant, company, and area.

Thank you, Mr. Moderator. I'm sorry if I'm causing any trouble/being a nuisance with my questions.

What is a "class" of NLO's? Do you just mean you hired on several, or that there's a training program/classes they have to take before starting?

Offline Nuclear NASCAR

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #24 on: Mar 14, 2014, 07:43 »

Thank you, Mr. Moderator. I'm sorry if I'm causing any trouble/being a nuisance with my questions.

What is a "class" of NLO's? Do you just mean you hired on several, or that there's a training program/classes they have to take before starting?

No trouble, the stupid question is the one that doesn't get asked.

We've always referred to each group as a "class" because they do have training that they all have to go through together when they start. 

For example; A class of 8-10 NLO's might start with a 12 week systems class.  In that class they will learn all of the various systems that they will be observing, making rounds on, manipulating, or tagging out for work in the plant.  Generally during that time they will pick a crew that they will rotate with when they go on watch, or on shift.  When their crew goes into a training week every 6 weeks they will go through that training with them.

After a certain time during which they will qualify on the last major class they attended, then they will go through class on another watch station and then qualify on it.  It generally take 15 to 18 months for them to become fully qualified and reach their top pay rate, getting a raise with each watch station that they qualify on.
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Offline Higgs

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #25 on: Mar 14, 2014, 08:53 »
Mechanical, eh? Well, we shall see. From what I've seen in the NCSU course curriculum, I suppose there are a lot of "reactor design" oriented classes in the nuclear engineering degree track. Not something I want to get involved in. But I very much DO want to get involved in their Nuclear Reactor Training program since it offers the chance to do p/t work and the opportunity to take the operator license test by graduation time. I'm not sure if your degree has to be NE if you want to take that route, though.

Thank you, Mr. Moderator. I'm sorry if I'm causing any trouble/being a nuisance with my questions.

What is a "class" of NLO's? Do you just mean you hired on several, or that there's a training program/classes they have to take before starting?

I don't know what you mean by operator license test, but if you think you'll be getting a license to operate a power plant out of that, you will not.

You can get hired as NLO with a 2 year tech degree minimum. Most utilities diversify their hiring. If you're going to get an engineering degree, don't get a nuclear engineering degree if you want to work at a power plant. Mechanical or electrical engineering would be more valuable to you and the company. Nuclear engineering kind of pigeon holes you.

Justin
« Last Edit: Mar 14, 2014, 08:55 by Higgs »
"How feeble is the mindset to accept defenselessness. How unnatural. How cheap. How cowardly. How pathetic.” - Ted Nugent

Xenon_Free

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #26 on: Mar 14, 2014, 06:28 »
If you want to work at a nuclear power plant there are some "rules" that you should be aware of...

1.  Never, ever let anybody know what they said on a personal level bothers you.  (names like snowflake, nub, etc )
2.  Do not lose your cool - be it a forum thread or in the plant.  This is vital for an operator - I must count on you in even in the worst possible circumstances.
3.  If you want a job where you make a lot of money and let others do your work for you then you, with the right resume, *might* get the job by accident.  Know that we who work hard, and understand the plant, and answer the phone when the plant is calling for help, absolutely loathe people like that.  Work ethic and knowledge are your street cred.  Everybody knows the sh!tbags and detest them.
4.  Do work so others don't have to.  This is a life lesson - vital in nuclear power...and probably why this forum is filled with stuff like "Use the search"
5.  Take every response in this forum with a grain of salt.  BZ, while a jerk on the forum, is a funny dude and a very knowledgable individual - maybe not so good with people skills.  I worked with him so I am speaking from experience.  Good dude, not the nurturing type for non-quals or slackers.

XF

HeavyD

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #27 on: Mar 15, 2014, 01:38 »
For the 2 new units we are building at Summer, we have a variety of backgrounds among our current 3 classes.  Several Midlands Tech graduates (2 yr degree), several previous NLOs, several engineer degreed folks, several ex-Navy nukes.  the one demographic we are short on is previously licensed operators.  If I recall correctly, our lead class has 2 previously licensed operators out of 24.

So there is some real time info about operator hiring.  Best of luck!

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #28 on: Mar 15, 2014, 11:40 »
For the 2 new units we are building at Summer, we have a variety of backgrounds among our current 3 classes.  Several Midlands Tech graduates (2 yr degree), several previous NLOs, several engineer degreed folks, several ex-Navy nukes.  the one demographic we are short on is previously licensed operators.  If I recall correctly, our lead class has 2 previously licensed operators out of 24.

So there is some real time info about operator hiring.  Best of luck!

That's because your company is cheap. Trust me, I know. Then again, when they can hire engineers and navy nukes for pennies on the dollar, why would they need to pay me more for my two licenses?


Justin
"How feeble is the mindset to accept defenselessness. How unnatural. How cheap. How cowardly. How pathetic.” - Ted Nugent

Offline GLW

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #29 on: Mar 16, 2014, 01:28 »
That's because your company is cheap. Trust me, I know. Then again, when they can hire engineers and navy nukes for pennies on the dollar, why would they need to pay me more for my two licenses?


Justin

ahhhhhh, but you cannot put a comprehensive price tag on the "sunshine bonus",...

no snow means no snow blower, no R-288 insulation throughout the house, no heat trace tapes for piping, no need for AWD or 4WD, no big heating bills 5 months per year, no blue stuff for the windshield wiper fluid reservoir,....

I can go on and on and on,....

at least that was part of the calculus I got once upon a time,...

and it does seem to bear out as time goes on,.... :P ;) :) 8)

been there, dun that,... the doormat to hell does not read "welcome", the doormat to hell reads "it's just business"

HeavyD

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #30 on: Mar 16, 2014, 11:49 »
Smaller company, smaller pay.   ;D

Our overall compensation isn't bad, plus the stuff GLW said does factor in as well, as well as the cost of living being lower here than other places I've lived.   

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #31 on: Mar 17, 2014, 12:34 »
Yes, but it doesn't factor into to the tune of what they expect previously licensed people to take.

But hey, to each their own. As long as one is happy with their pay, that is all that matter.

I was merely offering one possibility as to why they don't have previously licensed people in their new classes.

Justin
"How feeble is the mindset to accept defenselessness. How unnatural. How cheap. How cowardly. How pathetic.” - Ted Nugent

HeavyD

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #32 on: Mar 17, 2014, 02:08 »
That's because your company is cheap. Trust me, I know. Then again, when they can hire engineers and navy nukes for pennies on the dollar, why would they need to pay me more for my two licenses?


Justin

I'm not saying they aren't  ;D

I can say that OPS management understands why they haven't been able to attract more previously licensed folks.  Doesn't change the fact that more previously licensed folks would potentially make things easier during pre-op  and startup testing, as well as the transition to commercial operations.

Offline cheme09

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #33 on: Mar 18, 2014, 01:22 »
Mechanical, eh? Well, we shall see. From what I've seen in the NCSU course curriculum, I suppose there are a lot of "reactor design" oriented classes in the nuclear engineering degree track. Not something I want to get involved in. But I very much DO want to get involved in their Nuclear Reactor Training program since it offers the chance to do p/t work and the opportunity to take the operator license test by graduation time. I'm not sure if your degree has to be NE if you want to take that route, though.

Thank you, Mr. Moderator. I'm sorry if I'm causing any trouble/being a nuisance with my questions.

What is a "class" of NLO's? Do you just mean you hired on several, or that there's a training program/classes they have to take before starting?

Man, you are pretty clueless. Have you looked at the ACAD? Or even searched the career path of NLO > RO > SRO?

Yes, NLO's are usually hired as a class. You'll learn all about the plant and you obtain the requisite knowlege to stand watch. If you look at the ACAD you'll see that to meet the requirements for a licensce class, you need to have a certain number of years experience as a FULLY QUALIFIED NLO. The general idea is that you'll be "fully qualified" once you complete all the quals which means you've completed the NLO training program.

As for the licence you keep refering to at NC State. This is not an operating licencse for a commercial nuclear reactor. Just from the info you've provided, it sounds like an operating license for a research reactor, which will mean little to nothing on the commercial side. It will most likely only be available to NE majors.

Do you realize what a nuclear engineering degree is used for?  Of course it would have courses for reactor design. Like I said in my first reply to this thread, you need to figure out what you want or at least do a little preliminary research. You're asking questions that are too vague.

Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #34 on: Mar 26, 2014, 01:31 »
As for the licence you keep refering to at NC State. This is not an operating licencse for a commercial nuclear reactor. Just from the info you've provided, it sounds like an operating license for a research reactor, which will mean little to nothing on the commercial side. It will most likely only be available to NE majors.

Do you realize what a nuclear engineering degree is used for?  Of course it would have courses for reactor design. Like I said in my first reply to this thread, you need to figure out what you want or at least do a little preliminary research. You're asking questions that are too vague.

Asking vague questions is the path to asking specific questions. Or so Confucius say...

Anyway, based on this...

http://www.ne.ncsu.edu/nrp/training.html

It doesn't look like the school page makes a distinction between a research reactor operator's license and a commercial reactor operator's license. But if you're saying there's a difference, I'll take your word for it. The program looks as though it prepares people for work as ROs once they earn their degree (NE or otherwise). Every person on the list has RO next to their name as well as a license number from the NRC.

As to what an NE is for, I assumed it was a good degree to have for work at a power plant, given that you would learn about how the plant functions, and not simply have the NE degree be a pipeline for grad school and a lifetime of research work in a lab trying to create fusion. Surely there are operators (licensed or non licensed) who are hired at power plants who have NE degrees. I know plants hire a variety of engineers from different disciplines, but I can't imagine the majority of people with degrees who work as NLOs and ROs have degrees in something other than NE. Given the insight into Nuclear energy that's gained via a degree in NE, I'd figure that would be the best choice for people wanting to work as NLOs and ROs. But if that's really not the way it is, by all means enlighten me.

I don't know what you mean by operator license test, but if you think you'll be getting a license to operate a power plant out of that, you will not.

If you're going to get an engineering degree, don't get a nuclear engineering degree if you want to work at a power plant. Mechanical or electrical engineering would be more valuable to you and the company. Nuclear engineering kind of pigeon holes you.

Justin

To be honest, I don't really care that much about working with the mechanical/electrical aspects of the plant. If an NE degree didn't get me a job as an NLO or actual engineer at a plant, I'd be interested in the world of nuclear research such as Thorium, 4th-Gen, small-reactor, etc.



Forgive my pig-ignorance, but since everyone now seems to be chiming in about how I should get a degree in mechanical engineering for work at a power plant (regardless of what specific job I go into), perhaps someone with a NUCLEAR engineering degree could enlighten me as to whether or not there's any hope for actually getting work at a plant at all... or even just tell me what getting an NE degree is good for. The class lists for NE all show things like radiation, safety, reactor design, heat transfer, fluid systems, etc.

Based on these course descriptions at NCSU...

http://www2.acs.ncsu.edu/reg_records/crs_cat/NE.html

Or at least roughly NE-100 through NE-500 for a bachelor's degree, the courses seem to involve overviews/details of how various systems at different kinds of nuclear power plants work. They don't seem geared so heavily towards design and research topics like fusion. So what's the deal? Surely an NE degree would be just as valid for NLO/RO as a mechanical engineering degree, if not more-so, considering the curriculum involved in each degree?
« Last Edit: Mar 26, 2014, 01:45 by Duke Nukem »

Offline fiveeleven

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #35 on: Mar 26, 2014, 08:24 »
A NE degree is a valuable addition to your resume for some jobs, not so valuable for others. In the Operations world you would be a good candidate for a Shift Technical Adviser, but you will still have to successfully complete the plants license training program be it the full blown version or a "fast track" version. You would be a great candidate in the Engineering Dept. as a Reactor Engineer, of which at an operating plant there are probably 2-3/unit of these. As with most technically oriented positions at an operating plant, you will always be competing against people that have experience at whatever discipline you choose along with their education/degree/related technical training. A great example of this is the recent trend in the Radiation Protection arena,(which as of today I have personally participated in for 30 yrs. post USN) of the mass influx of 2 yr. associate degree people from the many technical colleges mostly nearby an operating commercial plant, that are not garnering the same employment opportunities that the educational facility may have led then to believe that they would. Even a 1-2 yr. step-off pad Junior RPT will more than likely get the blue-hat ahead of a recently graduated tech school junior.               MM2/ELT USS Nimitz 1980-1984.BOHICA
« Last Edit: Mar 26, 2014, 01:08 by fiveeleven »

Offline s14newb

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #36 on: Mar 26, 2014, 04:11 »


Forgive my pig-ignorance, but since everyone now seems to be chiming in about how I should get a degree in mechanical engineering for work at a power plant (regardless of what specific job I go into), perhaps someone with a NUCLEAR engineering degree could enlighten me as to whether or not there's any hope for actually getting work at a plant at all... or even just tell me what getting an NE degree is good for. The class lists for NE all show things like radiation, safety, reactor design, heat transfer, fluid systems, etc.



I have a bachelors in nuclear engineering.  I was just hired as an NLO.  So yeah its not a bad degree to get if you want to pursue that route. BUT, I don't think that's what everyone is trying to tell you. They are trying to show you that there are better fitting degrees and these other degrees don't limit your opportunity as much as an NE degree does. Honestly a ME or EE degree is a better fit for the operator role. A lot of my courses dealt with what happens in the core.  An operator is running the plant though, the reactor is a very small part of the whole process.

But from what you said you are also interested in research.  This is very different then pursuing an operator position.  My advice is to spend more time researching what you actually want to do.  And to also look into double majoring in NE and ME. I know some schools offer it as a five year program and looking back I feel dumb for not taking advantage. 

With that being said, take what I have to say with a grain of salt. Like I said, I was just hired.  On the other hand, I would spend some more time on this forum and read what others have said.  They'll tell you how the nuke industry really works and what they say is much more valuable then what a university who is trying to sell their program says in most if not all cases.

Offline Joe_Fission

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #37 on: Mar 26, 2014, 04:58 »


As to what an NE is for, I assumed it was a good degree to have for work at a power plant, given that you would learn about how the plant functions, and not simply have the NE degree be a pipeline for grad school and a lifetime of research work in a lab trying to create fusion. Surely there are operators (licensed or non licensed) who are hired at power plants who have NE degrees. I know plants hire a variety of engineers from different disciplines, but I can't imagine the majority of people with degrees who work as NLOs and ROs have degrees in something other than NE. Given the insight into Nuclear energy that's gained via a degree in NE, I'd figure that would be the best choice for people wanting to work as NLOs and ROs. But if that's really not the way it is, by all means enlighten me.

To be honest, I don't really care that much about working with the mechanical/electrical aspects of the plant. If an NE degree didn't get me a job as an NLO or actual engineer at a plant, I'd be interested in the world of nuclear research such as Thorium, 4th-Gen, small-reactor, etc.

I have a masters degree in nuclear engineering (bachelors in chemical) and don't know a single person working on fusion. There is a ton of research work going on on the fission side of the nuclear energy spectrum. Fusion work is a very small group since there is minimal funding for fusion research. By the way, I am an engineer at a nuke plant and in my training class there were engineering physics graduates, automotive engineer graduates, civil engineer graduates, electrical engineer graduates, mechanical engineer graduates, and nuclear engineering graduates. NE grads were not the majority and there is even a school near by that pumps them out.

Also, you should care about working with the mechanical/electrical aspect of the plant since an operator is mostly working with that stuff. As s14newb pointed out, the core is but a small portion of what an operator deals with.

Quote
Forgive my pig-ignorance, but since everyone now seems to be chiming in about how I should get a degree in mechanical engineering for work at a power plant (regardless of what specific job I go into), perhaps someone with a NUCLEAR engineering degree could enlighten me as to whether or not there's any hope for actually getting work at a plant at all... or even just tell me what getting an NE degree is good for. The class lists for NE all show things like radiation, safety, reactor design, heat transfer, fluid systems, etc.

Based on these course descriptions at NCSU...

http://www2.acs.ncsu.edu/reg_records/crs_cat/NE.html

Or at least roughly NE-100 through NE-500 for a bachelor's degree, the courses seem to involve overviews/details of how various systems at different kinds of nuclear power plants work. They don't seem geared so heavily towards design and research topics like fusion. So what's the deal? Surely an NE degree would be just as valid for NLO/RO as a mechanical engineering degree, if not more-so, considering the curriculum involved in each degree?

Here is an interesting link (http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2014/03/26/where-are-nuclear-engineering-graduates-going-to-work/) I just saw pop-up from the ANS. It is titled "Where Do Nuclear Engineering Students Work After Graduation?". If you get a chance, take a read. It looks like close to a third of B.S. NE degrees end up in industry.

The suggestion for an ME or EE degree is to give you options outside of the nuclear industry while allowing you to gain valuable knowledge for working in the industry without pigeonholing you. And, if your school has an NE program, you can likely take nuclear engineering electives in your upper years. A general introduction to nuclear engineering course will give you a good bit of information regarding radiation, basic radiation protection, what fission is and why it happens, radioisotope decay, and probably an introduction to neutron diffusion theory which is what most core nuclear physics simulators are based on.

Nobody has the right answers here. But a lot of people here are veterans of the industry or have recently gotten into the industry. Most are just suggesting the best general path that doesn't restrict you if getting into the industry doesn't happen right away after graduation. These options still give you the basic tools to be a great operator/engineer/etc. for a nuclear utility.
« Last Edit: Mar 26, 2014, 05:02 by Joe_Fission »

Offline Higgs

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #38 on: Mar 26, 2014, 06:22 »
I'm not saying they aren't  ;D

I can say that OPS management understands why they haven't been able to attract more previously licensed folks.  Doesn't change the fact that more previously licensed folks would potentially make things easier during pre-op  and startup testing, as well as the transition to commercial operations.

I'm all ears for any efforts that they're going to make to attract previously licensed people. ;)

Justin
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Offline cheme09

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #39 on: Mar 27, 2014, 03:36 »

It doesn't look like the school page makes a distinction between a research reactor operator's license and a commercial reactor operator's license. But if you're saying there's a difference, I'll take your word for it. The program looks as though it prepares people for work as ROs once they earn their degree (NE or otherwise). Every person on the list has RO next to their name as well as a license number from the NRC.

That's because, even though it's a research reactor, it is still licensed under the NRC. And in order to operate said reactor, the RO also needs to be licensed under the NRC.

As to what an NE is for, I assumed it was a good degree to have for work at a power plant, given that you would learn about how the plant functions, and not simply have the NE degree be a pipeline for grad school and a lifetime of research work in a lab trying to create fusion. Surely there are operators (licensed or non licensed) who are hired at power plants who have NE degrees. I know plants hire a variety of engineers from different disciplines, but I can't imagine the majority of people with degrees who work as NLOs and ROs have degrees in something other than NE. Given the insight into Nuclear energy that's gained via a degree in NE, I'd figure that would be the best choice for people wanting to work as NLOs and ROs. But if that's really not the way it is, by all means enlighten me.

You're blurring the lines between being a nuclear engineer and a power plant engineer. In the strictest of terms a nuclear engineer is only concerned with nuclear interactions. In the commercial nuclear power industry, that means designing, modeling, and analyzing the fuel, core and spent fuel. Notice I only spoke of the fuel - not the associated plant equipment built around the core, like the reactor vessel, reactor coolant system, safety systems, etc. The nuclear engineer's focus is on fissionable material and controlling the fission reaction.

As a NE student, the same holds true. A lot of classes are geared towards nuetronics (nuclear physics), which includes core design and fuel management. The program (school) you attend will determine how much exposure you get to actual nuclear plant systems. Some programs, like the one I graduated from, was pretty heavy in relating everything back to a power plant and there was a focus on system interactions. On the other hand, I remember speaking to a NE grad from another school that could speak about the neutron transport equation intelligently, but struggled to (read: could not) explain the basics of how a nuclear power plant works bc this individual was never required to take a power plant or systems class in their curriculum - it was an optional elective.

I have a BS in Chemical Engineering and a MS in NE and I work at a nuclear power plant. Out of almost 100 engineers on the floor. I can count on one hand the number of people (other than me) that actually have a NE degree. Most of the NE degreed individuals in the company work at the corporate office in safety analysis, core design, and fuels.

As far as getting a job at a power plant, mechanical and electrical engineers are usually the degrees that get hired. If you go to a school that offers a nuclear degree, consider taking a few or the nuke classes. That may help differentiate you when you apply for an internship.

Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #40 on: Mar 27, 2014, 10:51 »
Again, thank you all for the tips.

I'm sure this is a long shot question, but assuming I did decide to throw caution to the wind and earn a degree in NE instead of ME, could anyone recommend courses to take from this list...

http://www2.acs.ncsu.edu/reg_records/crs_cat/dir_MAE.html

...to make me more of an eye-catcher to prospective power plant employers? Or do the very letters NE on a diploma spell doom for me if I were to try to apply to any job other than one dealing directly with the core?


As a second hypothetical, if I did get an NE degree, would it be possible to gain power plant employment in some of the lower-skill jobs, such as I&C, technician work, etc? Or would they say no, on the grounds I haven't been specifically trained in such a field?

Offline ddickey

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #41 on: Mar 28, 2014, 07:41 »
You'd need a specific I&C degree to work as I&C tech, sometimes an Electronics degree will qualify you for an I&C position. You'll never get an Apprentice Electrician, Mechanic/Repairman, Rigger, Welder or Machinist job without experience or being internal.

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #42 on: Mar 28, 2014, 01:18 »
Again, thank you all for the tips.

I'm sure this is a long shot question, but assuming I did decide to throw caution to the wind and earn a degree in NE instead of ME, could anyone recommend courses to take from this list...

http://www2.acs.ncsu.edu/reg_records/crs_cat/dir_MAE.html

...to make me more of an eye-catcher to prospective power plant employers? Or do the very letters NE on a diploma spell doom for me if I were to try to apply to any job other than one dealing directly with the core?


As a second hypothetical, if I did get an NE degree, would it be possible to gain power plant employment in some of the lower-skill jobs, such as I&C, technician work, etc? Or would they say no, on the grounds I haven't been specifically trained in such a field?


I&C jobs are HIGHLY skilled. In fact, I'd argue that it takes more skill to be an I&C tech at a nuke plant than it takes to be an engineer at a nuke plant.


And you do NOT have to have a degree to be an I&C tech..., but you're not going to hire right into that without something.

Justin
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Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #43 on: Mar 28, 2014, 09:48 »

I&C jobs are HIGHLY skilled. In fact, I'd argue that it takes more skill to be an I&C tech at a nuke plant than it takes to be an engineer at a nuke plant.


And you do NOT have to have a degree to be an I&C tech..., but you're not going to hire right into that without something.

Justin


Hmmm... Well I know that a few of those technical college programs offer 2 year degrees in I&C. Although I've also seen job postings for I&C engineers, but I know that's something different. We'll see what happens. To be honest, I'm still up in the air about which path to follow (2 year or 4 year), since all of this is several years down the road. It all depends on my grades over the next few semesters: Good grades in math and mechanics = pursue the BS in Engineering. Mediocre/Bad grades mean pursue the 2 year degree and hope for the best.

I&C aside, one further question for now regarding Nuclear Operators (licensed or otherwise)...

Assuming hiring practices are getting more and more picky and let's say they start hiring only degreed people for Operator work, which 4 year degree would be more beneficial for going into it? NE, ME, EE, ChE? Close call? Doesn't really matter? My concern is getting an edge. Since my pug-ugly appearance and sub-stellar social skills aren't likely to win me any points during the interview, I need a degree that will be seen as the best suited for the job.

Regarding those who told me to pursue Mechanical Engineering, I think that beyond NLO and RO work, I'd still like to pursue things like Control Rod Driver positions, etc, even if it does limit the sheer number of jobs available to me. So perhaps that narrows it down. As stated, I can always minor in ME or take numerous power generation classes on the side. But I know an NE degree would be better suited for working with things like Control Rods versus other parts of the plant where an ME degree would be more useful. Plus, I'm open to living just about anywhere to find work, be it US, UK, Canada, France, etc. I don't care if I end up working at a power plant in Slovakia. Just so long as I'm either working as an NLO/RO or CRD.

Offline Higgs

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #44 on: Mar 28, 2014, 11:14 »
For NLO, any 4 year engineering degree would be just fine. I have guys across the entire spectrum.

Justin
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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #45 on: Mar 29, 2014, 10:36 »
As a second hypothetical, if I did get an NE degree, would it be possible to gain power plant employment...as I&C, technician work, etc? Or would they say no, on the grounds I haven't been specifically trained in such a field?

When I hired into I&C, we did have one person transfer down from plant engineering to become a technician...but she had enough electronics background to pass the pre-employment (mostly electronics) test they gave...  You might be able to slip in on a similar deal where they were crying for people...but there are a glut of qualified techs on the market now, as compared to when I hired on, so...

Good luck.  :)
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Offline ddickey

Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #46 on: Mar 29, 2014, 10:41 »
This is what I've found out also even though my school was preaching about not enough skilled workers. Yeah right.

Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #47 on: Mar 30, 2014, 01:40 »
This is what I've found out also even though my school was preaching about not enough skilled workers. Yeah right.

I take it then that the best route is a full-on engineering degree for pretty much any job you're applying to, then? Tech schools are nice and short (and cheap) but if the market is flooded with 2-year tech school grads, then perhaps a bachelor's is the way to go. (?)

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #48 on: May 19, 2014, 08:19 »
Do not limit your choices so much.
http://www.engr.utk.edu/nuclear/utnegrad.html
UT Knoxville has a MS in Nuclear Engineering, and they will even let you earn that online.
You already have a degree (B.A?); what would it take for a B.S from an online program.
WGU or TESC or Excelsior or Liberty or any other accredited program would be a place to start looking.
If you have two calculus courses, and two calculus-based physics courses, included on your transcript for graduation, then you are eligible to be an STA. At some locations, that will be an impacting factor on whether or not they hire.

Just my thoughts as a non-traditional degree holder with sons in two different on-campus Nuclear programs at the present...
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Duke Nukem

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Re: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!
« Reply #49 on: Jun 10, 2014, 02:52 »
Do not limit your choices so much.
http://www.engr.utk.edu/nuclear/utnegrad.html
UT Knoxville has a MS in Nuclear Engineering, and they will even let you earn that online.
You already have a degree (B.A?); what would it take for a B.S from an online program.
WGU or TESC or Excelsior or Liberty or any other accredited program would be a place to start looking.
If you have two calculus courses, and two calculus-based physics courses, included on your transcript for graduation, then you are eligible to be an STA. At some locations, that will be an impacting factor on whether or not they hire.

Just my thoughts as a non-traditional degree holder with sons in two different on-campus Nuclear programs at the present...


So... perhaps after taking Calc II and Phys I and II, I might be able to simply start applying for work? That is... if they even take people without experience.

STA? As in, Shift Technical Advisor? Sounds like a vague job title. What specifically would I be doing on the job, if I may ask?

 


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