Careers for Former Navy Nukes

The skills that Navy Nukes accrue during their time in the Navy are admissible in civilian careers. With little or no additional education, a retired Navy can easily slip into one of them. This article describes five of these careers.

Over the years, the United States' nuclear resources have grown, in the form of more nuclear plants, reactors, weapons, and ships and submarines that use nuclear power. However, just as the uses and the locations of nuclear power increase, so has the number of nuclear power officers. The Navy, particularly, through its nuclear propulsion program, has trained thousands of Navy nukes and on retirement, their skills are still viable and sought-after in the job market. Below are several careers that former Navy Nukes can take up.

Career Comparison

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Nuclear Technicians $80,370 1% Diligence and caution, knowledge of nuclear energy and its production, accuracy
Nuclear Engineers $105,810 4% Highly knowledgeable in matters on nuclear energy; problem solving, innovation
Nuclear Medicine Technologists $75,660 10% Detail oriented, communication
Radiologic and MRI Technologists $60,070 13% Interpersonal, technical skills, ability to take and follow orders
Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers $80,440 -1% Dexterity, diligence, problem solving

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Relevance to Military Background

The careers described below require applicants to have full knowledge and experience working with nuclear energy and radioactive material. Throughout their service, Navy Nukes get to advance their education and training in this field, making these jobs the most relevant and suitable for them to leverage their skills and knowledge.

Nuclear Technicians

Nuclear technicians work in nuclear energy plants or may be employed as assistants to engineers, physicists and other professionals conducting nuclear research. In this role, the technician operates, monitors and maintains radiation equipment used for tests and power generation, to ensure that they perform optimally. In case there are tests to be run on samples like water, soil and air to test for radioactive contamination, it is the technician's job to collect those samples. When radiations are being produced, whether during tests or power generation, the technician must measure the levels and types of radiation produced. Depending on the results and findings of those tests, the technician must then set up safety tools and procedures and warn others of the hazardous conditions.

Primarily, nuclear technicians working in nuclear power plants will be based in the office or in control rooms, but the nature of the tasks can take them to the location on the ground. Working as a technician requires experience working the same role in the military and an associate's degree in nuclear technology, nuclear science or a similar field.

Nuclear Engineers

Nuclear engineers are the initiators, innovators and inventors of all that pertains to harnessing the benefits of nuclear energy and radiations. Depending on the problems to be solved or the need to be met, the engineer will go out to conduct research, create systems, come up with equipment and develop procedures for handling the radioactive material or nuclear energy source. Typically, this research is geared towards finding solutions for the medical and industrial fields; in medicine, the nuclear material will be used for diagnosis and treatment of diseases while industrial uses include powering ships and spacecraft.

Naturally, their work involves conducting experiments using nuclear material, gathering data, and writing instruction manuals for handling the nuclear matter. They also direct the operation and maintenance of power plants, ensuring that they maintain required safety standards. Nuclear engineers work in the office, but the nature of their work could take them to locations on the ground. To work as a nuclear engineer, a former Navy Nuke will need a bachelor's degree, but some roles may require a master's or doctorate.

Nuclear Medicine Technologists

With a little more education, former Navy Nukes could work as nuclear medicine technologists. Technologists prepare and administer radioactive drugs to patients for healing and imaging purposes. Medical personnel use the imaging results as support and the basis for the treatment, care, and research into the cause and cures of specific conditions and illnesses.

Nuclear medicine technologists also keep records of various nuclear-based procedures, monitor patients for their reaction to the drugs, and come up with safety procedures to protect themselves and their subjects from unnecessary radiation. They also develop safety procedures for handling radioactive waste. Nuclear medicine technologists are mostly based in hospitals and in physician offices. To become a nuclear medicine technologist, a former Navy Nuke will need an associate's degree in nuclear medicine technology.

Radiologic and MRI Technologists

Commonly called radiographers, radiologic technologists are the professionals who conduct imaging examinations for purposes of diagnosis, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. Common tasks include preparing patients for the procedures, positioning the patients correctly, taking doctors' orders on the body parts to examine, and operating and managing imaging tools. They also keep detailed patient records of these examinations for future reference. Typical of the medical field, radiographers are mostly based in hospitals and diagnostic laboratories. A former Navy nuke will need an associate's degree, but some states require them to seek licensing and certification to practice.

Power Plant Operators, Distributors and Dispatchers

The work of power plant operators, distributors and dispatchers are to control the systems that produce and dispense electricity. A former Navy nuke is suited for this job because some plants use nuclear power. Their job involves controlling and maintaining equipment used to generate power like generators and turbines. They also check for indicators to identify any operating problems and adjust and control the power flow. In addition, they monitor the meters, charts, and gauges to check the rates of flow and voltage.

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