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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%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Author Topic: Engineer, Technician, Operator? HELP!  (Read 30481 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 »

Offline Nuclear NASCAR

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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."

  -Bertrand Russell

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.
"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge."

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