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Schools for Aspiring Nuclear Technicians: How to Choose

Students of nuclear technology are trained to assist nuclear physicists and engineers who research nuclear power and help with power plant and reactor operations. They frequently work with hazardous and radioactive materials. Many nuclear technician programs are two years of advanced studies toward either an associate's degree or a certificate.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who want to be nuclear technicians most commonly need an associate's degree or vocational certificate in nuclear technology (www.bls.gov). Power plant companies may also sponsor degree and certificate programs in order to train future or current employees.

10 Schools with Nuclear Technology Programs

These institutions offer programs for aspiring nuclear technicians.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2015-2016)
Arkansas Tech University Russellville, AK 4-year, Public Associate's $6,192 In-state; $11,352 Out-of-state
New Mexico Junior College Hobbs, NM 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $1,704 In-state; $1,898 Out-of-state
Augusta Technical College Augusta, GA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $2,644 In-state; $4,780 Out-of-state
Bismarck State College Bismarck, ND 4-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $3,604 In-state; $8,383 Out-of-state
Central Virginia Community College Lynchburg, VA 2-year, Public Associate's $4,470 In-state; $10,308 Out-of-state
College of Southern Maryland La Plata, MD 2-year, Public Associate's $6,111 In-state; $7,911 Out-of-state
Columbia Basin College Pasco, WA 4-year, Public Associate's $4,194 In-state; $6,189 Out-of-state
Flint Hills Technical College Emporia, KS 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $5,720
Luzerne County Community College Nanticoke, PA 2-year, Public Associate's $8,700 In-state; $12,630 Out-of-state
Idaho State University Pocatello, ID 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's $6,784 In-state; $20,182 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

When comparing nuclear technician programs these are some factors to keep in mind.

  • Associate's degree programs may have broader education requirements, while certificate programs focus primarily on career knowledge and skills.
  • Look for programs that offer hands-on training via lab coursework, internships, or cooperative work programs.
  • Review the school's facilities to ensure that they have the latest technology available to students.
  • Consider if the schools assist graduates seeking employment in their field.

Certificate in Nuclear Technology

Unlike certificates in other fields, nuclear technician training certificate programs often take up to two years of study to complete. Some certificate programs may also have admission requirements, such as a prior associate's degree in process technology. For this reason, those who are looking to transfer their career to the nuclear industry may choose certificate programs.

Associate of Applied Science in Nuclear Power or Engineering Technology

Associate's degree programs in nuclear technology are 2-year programs with requirements in both general education courses, such as math, chemistry or computer programming, and advanced nuclear power and engineering technology courses. Students may have opportunities to participate in internships or field experiences.

Many engineering technology or nuclear power technology programs are offered as certificate or associate's degree programs, although it's also possible to pursue a bachelor's degree and graduate studies in relevant fields. Students may want to consider which program level fits best with their goals, and review the school facilities, the program's opportunities for hands-on experience, and the tuition costs before choosing a school.

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