Radiation protection technicians typically work at power plants to ensure that radiation doesn't pose a threat to the environment or individuals in the area. The minimum requirement for entry-level positions is on-the-job training, but associate's degrees are usually preferred by employers.
Radiation protection technicians monitor radiation emissions. These technicians generally work for electric power and/or nuclear plants to protect individuals and the environment from radiation exposure. Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that hazardous materials (hazmat) removal workers are not generally required to hold more than the equivalent of high school diplomas.
The BLS did note that nuclear facilities, such as the ones that hire radiation protection technicians, may prefer job candidates who hold associate's degrees. Workers learn a lot of their duties through on-site training, and training takes up to three months. Some states do have licensure or permit regulations for hazmat workers, but these regulations vary by state.
|Required Education||Associate's degree recommended|
|Other Requirements||Be at least 18 years old; complete on-the-job training; pass training exams; complete licensure and/or permit requirements.|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||11% (hazardous materials removal workers)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$42,030 (hazardous materials removal workers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The primary role of radiation protection technicians is to maintain the safety of nuclear energy plants. They measure and record the level of radiation emitted in accordance with established regulations and standards. Professionals service radiation protection instruments and make sure that these tools are calibrated appropriately. Additional responsibilities may include training plant personnel to ensure that they have the proper knowledge when working in potentially hazardous environments. Radiation protection technicians ensure that employees are outfitted in protective gear as necessary. They also evaluate radiation output and develop processes to minimize future contamination.
A high school diploma is necessary to begin a career as a radiation protection technician. The National Registry of Radiation Protection Technologists (NRRPT) also offers an examination that ensures that an applicant is adequately prepared for a technician job. Most prospective employers will require the exam to be taken at some point after employment.
Previous experience in hazardous waste removal will make it easier to acquire a job as a radiation protection technician. According to the BLS, previous experience as a decontamination technician, including training in proper disposal of contaminated materials, can lead to a job as a radiation protection technician. The majority of training is company-administered and ongoing throughout a technician's career.
Since safety is the foremost responsibility of radiation protection technicians, they usually will need to pass a drug and alcohol test upon employment. Having the ability to make important decisions and solve problems are crucial skills in this position.
Salary Info and Job Outlook
According to the BLS, the employment of hazmat removal workers, including radiation protection technicians, will grow much faster than the national average through 2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that workers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $75,840 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $27,910 or less per year.
While a high school diploma is all that is needed to get started as a radiation protection technician, there are a number of steps one can take to increase their credibility and likelihood of securing a position. Most employers prefer candidates with at least an associate's degree and some previous experience in hazardous waste removal. Successfully completing the NRRPT examination also indicates job readiness to potential or current employers.