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Author Topic: Looking to change career. No idea if I'm even qualified.  (Read 2697 times)

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Offline AmIQualified

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As the title and my username suggest, I'm interested in this field but have zero clue if it's even a viable option for me.

Currently I'm a 29/f working as a graphic designer. I have a BS from a four year university (major: Graphic Communication, minor: Psychology). However, I've come to the conclusion that I can't STAND sitting at a desk for 8 straight hours a day, and I would like a better paying job.

I'm vaguely interested in becoming a nuclear reactor operator or maybe a radiation protection technician. I don't know much about the industry or how different the job requirements/day-to-day operations of the jobs differ. I'm open-minded to other areas depending what I'm even qualified for.

I have seen that a degree is not required to become a non-licensed reactor operator, however I've also seen that it's a more competitive industry than it used to be and it definitely helps. While I do have a degree, I never took any math courses above algebra/statistics/geometry/trigonometry and haven't taken any math class, period, since 2006 or 2007. Most of the science courses I took were social sciences, although I did take earth science and geology. I have never completed a single chemistry course. I'm not sure how necessary these are.

I had seen a job posting that listed requirements of "an associates of science degree in engineering, engineering technology, or related science program or equivalency" or a bachelor's in the same, or "43 credit hours of post secondary education of which 75% (at least 8 courses or 32 hours) is advanced math, physics, chemistry, and/or engineering/engineering technology. Transcripts will be required to verify coursework." Or Navy experience.

I have not taken any sort of engineering or higher science classes like that. I took a basic physics class in high school, but nothing in higher education and absolutely zero chemistry (I dropped it in high school).

Am I completely out of my element and totally unqualified? Would I need to go back to school? Or would these things possibly be overlooked as long as I pass the POSS and interview well? This job posting was simply for an entry-level union NLO position where the entire first year would be training.

If I'm not qualified for a NLO job, would a radiation protection technician position be more viable with my skill set? Or any other kind of position in the industry? Anything that could give me experience that could potentially lead me towards a NLO/LO/SLO position in the future?

Also, I've heard you can get FEMA certifications for free online (although I've also heard it's a long and obnoxious process). I'm vaguely interested in doing that. Could that possibly give me any sort of advantage in this industry as well?


I apologize - this is longer than I intended it to be. Overall I guess I'm just looking to see if this is even a feasible option for me or if I should look elsewhere. And just for more information on what an actual day looks like in these jobs and how much math and chemistry is actually used on a day to day basis. Any information would be greatly appreciated!
« Last Edit: Jun 28, 2017, 05:36 by AmIQualified »

Offline fourteener

Re: Looking to change career. No idea if I'm even qualified.
« Reply #1 on: Jun 28, 2017, 05:50 »
I applaud your initiative.  Based on your education and experience you will have a tough time getting into the industry but it is not impossible.  People with your background/experience can make it if they bust their a**.  Nuclear plants are always looking for someone who is both smart and willing to work hard.  I know people who have your background and are successful in the industry.  For RO and RP, you will find that they are both very scientific/technically challenging -- lots of science, math and technical thinking with the RP more likely for you than the RO. IF you live near a nuclear plant, try to get a job as a laborer or deconner (entry level positions) during an outage.  Don't give up your day job though.  You may need  / want it back.  If you are not familiar with the vernacular, find someone who can help you.  You won't make it if you don't attack the problem.  Persistence pays off.

Offline AmIQualified

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Re: Looking to change career. No idea if I'm even qualified.
« Reply #2 on: Jun 28, 2017, 07:18 »
Thanks for the input! I appreciate it. I figured it might be a long shot but it's good to know it's not completely outside the realm of possibility.

I believe there are four plants near me (Chicago area), but they are all about two hours away, so I'm not sure how easily I'd be able to do that while keeping my current job, but I'll certainly look into it. I do like the idea of that to see if I'd even enjoy the work environment.

Is there anything I could do to improve my chances, such as taking more math or science classes? And if so, which classes would be most useful? I assume chemistry, but beyond that I'm not sure which would be the most applicable.

I'm not dead set on those positions, so if there are any other options in the industry that would be easier to break into, I'm open-minded. Mostly I'm looking for something more hands-on. These positions sounded like they offered a nice variety of tasks, which also sounded appealing.

Offline MMM

Re: Looking to change career. No idea if I'm even qualified.
« Reply #3 on: Jun 28, 2017, 09:35 »
I'd look into the local community colleges. They might have a program that feeds into some of the jobs at Exelon, either RP, Ops, or Maintenance. I know the local CC has one where I am, and there are others around. It would mean going back to school for at least a year, but they'd help you plan you classes.

Offline ComradeRed1308

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Re: Looking to change career. No idea if I'm even qualified.
« Reply #4 on: Jun 29, 2017, 06:07 »
You can always apply for such jobs now in parallel with doing something to make yourself more competitive.  I will say you may have a difficult time because you don't have any qualifications that will make you stand out.  You will likely be competing for spots with people with naval nuclear experience, nuclear technology associate's degrees, and even people with a bachelor's in an engineering discipline.  But you never know if you don't try because a good attitude and strong work ethic will be more valuable in the job than any qualification.  Your best bet to improve your chances would probably be as MMM said and find a community college near a power plant that has a nuclear power related associate's degree that acts as a pipeline for operator jobs.  If you're really interested in nuclear power you can also consider starting in Naval nuclear power.  I will warn you though that it is a 6 year commitment minimum for nukes and the military lifestyle isn't for everyone.  You could also try to get into a company in a non-technical job just to get your foot in the door and try to transfer over to operations later.  One of the plant managers that interviewed me started off in the company as a janitor. 

For the job itself, there's relatively little quantitative math or chemistry, but it involves understanding technical concepts qualitatively.  You would need to be able to remember equations to know how one parameter can affect other parameters, but you'll rarely use the equation to actually calculate something numerically.


 


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