We received an email from one of our members who is interested in making a career transition into the nuclear power industry. Jackson Son wrote:
What are the chances of making a career change from process engineer in oil and gas industry to nuclear power plant work, and what is the best path to do it? I'm a chemical engineer with over 10 years of experience in process engineering (in feasibility studies and front-end engineering and design package development in gas process, gas treating and petroleum refining projects), project and construction management. I want to move into power plant work and particularly nuclear work, and I don’t have any nuclear experience.
Since you are an experienced power engineer, your chances of getting a job in the nuclear industry are good. As you can see from our jobs board there are lots of contract jobs for engineers which are a great way to get started. Typically, these are at the DOE sites but this will give you the nuclear experience you need and can be very lucrative since many of these jobs offer tax free per diem. Sure, you probably have to relocate for a while (or possibly permanently if you go full time) but this could also offer several advantages too like the possibility of a lower cost of living, better climate, and if you get work at the Savannah River Site (SRS); 1-2 hours from the beach.
I also think you have a good chance of getting a job in the new nuclear plant construction business too with your front-end engineering, design, and studies work. The major players here are Westinghouse, Shaw, GE, and AREVA. All are hiring.
I would also suggest you contact the recruiters and employers on our jobs board through the email link feature at the bottom of each job postings and ask them specific job questions. They are there to help and are definitely incentivized to fill their openings.
We wish you luck in your nuclear job search and if you would like to contact Jackson and talk with him about a potential job opportunity, he can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was curious what the typical work environment was like? What is the Nuclear Culture like and how well to people with an Oil/Petroleum background fit in with the crowd? From Process to Piping, what is the culture like? Anyone?
The engineering is the same. If you are looking at process items, the only difference will be the addition of radiation that does not occur in your existing background.The safety culture is the same. You need to address safety in everything you do. Knowledge in the safety aspects of oil and gas processing will translate well. Good luck in your efforts. With the gap in nuclear construction that took place after 3 Mile Island, there is a real need for experienced engineers in the nuclear field.