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Nuclear process engineer

Process engineer

Nuclear process engineers are responsible for designing and managing the safe and productive running of nuclear power stations. They develop the processes and instruments used to produce energy, for distribution to homes and businesses.

Average salary*




Typical hours per week


How to become a nuclear process engineer

There are several routes to becoming a nuclear process engineer. You could complete a university or college course, an apprenticeship or apply directly to an employer for work.

You should explore these routes to becoming a nuclear process engineer, to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.


You can become a nuclear process engineer by completing a foundation or undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, maths, physics or electrical engineering.

A small number of UK universities offer degrees specific to nuclear engineering and nuclear decommissioning. 

Some employers will look for postgraduate degrees in subjects directly related to this field.

You’ll need:

College/training provider

You could complete a Higher National Diploma (HND) or Higher National Certificate (HNC) to start you on your path towards becoming a nuclear process engineer. Relevant courses include civil, electrical, hydraulic or mechanical engineering, or physics.

You may need to attend a specialist college or training provider to start your studies as an engineer.

You could complete a Higher National Certificate such as a Level 4 in Civil Engineering, or a Level 5 in Construction and the Built Environment. After this, you may be able to work as a trainee engineer and do on-the-job training to qualify.

You’ll need 1 - 2 A levels (or equivalent) for these courses, including maths.


You could complete an apprenticeship to become a nuclear process engineer, such as a nuclear scientist or engineer apprenticeship.

You’ll need 4-5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), and A Levels, or equivalent to enrol.

An apprenticeship with a construction company is a good way into the industry.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.


If you have some basic experience, you could apply directly to a construction company to gain onsite experience as a nuclear process engineer. You might start out as an assistant and progress as your abilities improve.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a nuclear process engineer. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a nuclear process engineer include: 

  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Good understanding of maths
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Attention to detail.

What does a nuclear process engineer do?

As a nuclear process engineer, you will be responsible for supplying electricity throughout the country via nuclear power plants, which produce energy for business and domestic use. In processing and power station operations, you could work on a shift system which may include working occasional weekends, evenings or nights.

The role of a nuclear process engineer involves the following duties: 

  • Designing and building new nuclear plants and equipment such as reactor cores and radiation shielding instruments
  • Monitoring and measuring radiation levels
  • Disposing of nuclear waste safely
  • Carrying out maintenance work and experiments to test nuclear material
  • Making sure that the plant structure complies with legislation and safety standards
  • Supervising power station technicians
  • Decommissioning sites due to be shut down 
  • Handling and disposing of radioactive material safely
  • Working in a nuclear power plant.

How much could you earn as a nuclear process engineer?

The expected salary for a nuclear process engineer varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained nuclear process engineers can earn £25,000 - £30,000 
  • Trained nuclear process engineers with some experience can earn £30,000 - £60,000
  • Senior nuclear process engineers can earn in excess of £60,000 a year.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest nuclear process engineer vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

As a nuclear process engineer, you could progress into a role as a project consultant, or you may choose to travel and work abroad.

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