Income and benefits
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for nuclear engineers in the United States was $113,460 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $71,860 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $179,430. The top paying industry was engineering services, where the median annual salary was $136,340. This is followed by scientific research and developmental services ($134,810), federal government ($94,610) and manufacturing ($89,480).
Autonomy and Flexibility
When nuclear engineers start out in their career, they are likely to have to work under other, more experienced, engineers. However, as they progress through their career, they quickly gain more responsibility and autonomy. When nuclear engineers get to a senior level (after completing the required training and gathering more experience and knowledge) they will have a lot of control over their decisions.
Flexibility is likely to be lower as nuclear engineers are likely to have set hours and schedules.
Locations and commute
According to Zippia, the best states to be a nuclear engineer, based on average annual salary and number of job opportunities, are:
- Alaska, where the average annual salary is $108,640
- District of Columbia, where the average annual salary is $112,180
- Oregon, where the average annual salary is $99,386
- Maryland, where the average annual salary is $103,412
- Idaho, where the average annual salary is $98,473
The worst states, according to Zippia, are Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Maine and Arkansas.
The largest employer of nuclear engineers in the United States was the federal government, which hired 20% of all nuclear engineers in 2019. 14% of nuclear engineers were employed by the scientific research and development services industry, 9% were employed by manufacturing services and 6% by engineering services.
Nuclear engineers tend to work in offices. However, the setting they work in varies with the industry in which they are employed as some nuclear engineers may work on power plants. It is typical that nuclear engineers will work with other engineering professionals, such as mechanical or electrical engineers to incorporate the system they have designed.