Career Path > Nuclear Operator

Direct SRO vs. Equipment Operator


I am currently an engineer in the nuclear industry with a mechanical engineering degree looking to get into operations. I recently applied to an EO job and received a call saying I qualified to interview for the Direct SRO program, and asking if I would like to interview for that instead. I have been out of school for less than two years and feel as though I have very little actual plant experience. I understand the strenuous nature of the program and am prepared to dedicate the next few years of my life to studying, but want to be realistic.

Would I be setting myself up to fail by potentially applying for the Direct SRO? Where would flunking out of the SRO program leave me in the EO/RO/SRO process?

Thanks in advance.

Most people I've spoken to have said license class is (relatively) easier if you work your way up from NLO (EO). That being said, you probably know more about the plant than you think and I've seen plenty of engineers go from engineering to SRO successfully. The instructors are going to give you all the tools you need to succeed, and most will probably provide additional help if you ask. Last, if you fail out, you'll probably end up back in engineering, not ops.

Will you put in the effort it requires to get the SRO License? Its a lot harder than college.

I have a nuclear engineering degree and went the route of NLO right after college and did that for 4 years before going to class as an Instant SRO.  I just got out of class a few months ago and my experience has been class was marginally easier because as an NLO you will have a broad experience and knowledge in all the systems of the plant.  I was in class with many smart experienced engineers that had no idea some of the systems we had were out there.  NLO will certainly give you a leg up in class but there is no doubt that it is still very difficult even with a degree and many years of experience. 

What I would say is the most compelling reason to go NLO first is its a good way to get into the "Operations Culture."  Talking to engineers I was in class with at my plant, they say that the culture difference between ops and the rest of the organization was fairly substantial however someone like me easily transitioned back into my new position and knew most of the personnel and all of the little nuisances of the OPS department.  The other aspect is if you plan on being in OPS for a while, the other NLO's and RO's will have more respect for you and go a little easier on you if you will since they appreciate people who "move up" through the department vice people (especially younger guys like you and me) coming from other departments and instantly becoming supervisors.  There is no doubt that if you are willing to put in a lot of time and effort that you could get your SRO license, but in my opinion if you think you will be in operations for a while and are the type of person that doesn't mind investing a little extra time to do things the "right" way instead of the "quick" way I would recommend NLO then SRO. 

I could go on forever about my experiences but if you want to know more just shoot me a message anytime.


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