Apprentice nuclear technicians often produce nuclear energy or aid physicists, engineers, and other nuclear research professionals. They operate the specialised equipment necessary for these activities and monitor the produced radiation levels.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- carry out planned maintenance work
- find faults and fix them
- install new equipment and systems
- monitor radiation levels in and around the power plant
- run regular inspections and safety checks
- work with staff on emergency procedures
- remove equipment from power stations that have shut down
- decontaminate machinery.
- Starting salaries for an apprentice is £22,000 per year.
- Experienced nuclear technicians can earn up to £42,000 per year.
Most nuclear engineers are employed full-time, you will typically work 37 to 42 hours per week. Technicians in power plants that operate 24 hours a day may be required to work various shifts, including nights, holidays, and weekends. Plants cease operations sometimes for upgrades and maintenance. At times, workers may be expected to work beyond hours. In laboratories, technicians often work throughout standard business hours.
Most nuclear technicians operate in offices and control rooms at nuclear power plants. Technicians monitor and help operate nuclear reactors by utilising computers and other technologies. Technicians in the nuclear industry must also evaluate radiation levels on-site, necessitating movement across the plant throughout their shift. This activity may require you to work outside, regardless of the weather. In addition, the proximity of personnel to nuclear reactors may expose them to intense heat.
Technicians in the nuclear industry must take precautions while working with or near radioactive materials. As a result, they are often obliged to wear protective gear and badges that indicate if they have been exposed to radiation. The following are examples of protective equipment: hard hats, hearing and eye protection, plastic suits, and respirators.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice nuclear technician include:
- Level 5 Nuclear Technician – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship. This qualification will take 36 months to complete.
On a nuclear technician apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- knowledge of engineering science and technology
- the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- knowledge of public safety and security
- knowledge of physics
- observation and recording skills
- to be flexible and open to change
- thinking and reasoning skills
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
Apprentices are instructed about nuclear energy, radiation, and the equipment and components used in nuclear power plants and laboratories.
During training, apprentices are instructed on properly operating and monitoring equipment. Also covered are safety precautions, legislation, and plant regulations. Before undertaking full duties and a standard training programme, workers without an associate’s degree or its equivalent are sometimes needed to undergo a lengthy period of on-the-job technical training.
Training varies according to a technician’s previous education and experience. However, most training programmes last between six months and two years. Throughout their careers, nuclear technicians get further education and training to remain abreast of advancements in nuclear science and technology.
With further training and experience, technicians at nuclear power stations may become nuclear reactor operators. Technicians may become nuclear engineers by earning a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering. Nuclear physicists are required to hold a Ph.D. in physics.