Is physics your favourite subject? Do you love learning about energy forces, electricity and what we’re all made of?
You could take your physics studies beyond school or college with an apprenticeship in the nuclear industry.
Nuclear science is the study of atomic nuclei (protons and neutrons at the centre of an atom) and how they can be used in power plants and other technologies.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at where you can find an apprenticeship in nuclear science and what jobs you could get at the end.
Career options in nuclear science
Nuclear Propulsion Engineer
Fancy working on a highly advanced submarine? Nuclear Propulsion Engineers work with Secondary Propulsion Drive Equipment (which moves the submarine forward) and make sure everything fits the government’s regulations. You’ll find a job like this in the Royal Navy, or working with specialist defence contractors and engineers.
Nuclear Medicine Radiographer
Nuclear radiography is kind of like X-Rays and CT scans, but the equipment uses radioactive scans. To become a Nuclear Medicine Radiographer, you’ll need to train as a Radiographer first and then complete further study to join the Register of Clinical Technologists (RCT).
This is one of the most popular jobs in the nuclear industry. Nuclear Engineers make sure that power plants and the equipment in them run safely. You’ll also monitor radiation levels, carry out maintenance and securely dispose of nuclear waste. The best part is that you can get into this role with a nuclear science apprenticeship.
As a Nuclear Physicist, you’ll be working in a lab, government facility or university to research the possibilities of nuclear physics. Yes, it starts with protons, neutrons and electrons, but it’s so much more than that. You could be developing lasers, power plants, advanced medicine and more.
Nuclear science apprenticeships
Jobs in the nuclear industry sound pretty exciting, but what apprenticeships can help you take the first step in your career?
With 5,000 employees and over 40 years of business under their belt, Cavendish is a powerhouse in the nuclear industry. It offers 3-year apprenticeships in a range of disciplines to give you hands-on experience in a nuclear workplace.
Nuclear engineering company Sellafield runs apprenticeships in Nuclear Welding Inspection, Nuclear Facility Operation and more. The schemes are 24 months long. For the first 6 months, you’ll be training and for the next 18 months, you’ll be working at one of Sellafield’s sites.
Complete your apprenticeship with the National Nuclear Laboratory to gain experience in the world’s most advanced nuclear research facility. You’ll study clean energy, environmental restoration and health and nuclear medicine. Plus, there’s a competitive salary of £17,000 to help you build some savings over the 2-year course.
Babcock is an international defence company, which sounds pretty cool in itself. It has apprenticeships across the UK that range from Level 2 to Level 6, so you can find an opportunity to suit your aspirations and skillset.
EDF’s goal is to help the UK hit net zero in 2050. But it can’t achieve this milestone without the help of motivated apprentices. You can learn more about nuclear science during EDF’s Engineering or Renewable Energy Apprenticeships. Applications will be open in winter 2022, so act fast!
Soft skills are way more valuable to apprenticeship employers than hard skills. So, what does this mean?
Soft skills are your personal qualities and traits that will help you succeed at the job. For a nuclear science apprenticeship, you’ll need to have soft skills such as the ability to work in a team and follow instructions, be great at organisation and be able to think critically.
Hard skills include academic knowledge and job-specific experience that you’ve gained. Most apprenticeships in nuclear science aren’t too fussed about what you’ve achieved – they want to know who you are and why you are motivated to pursue a career in the nuclear industry.
That being said, academic entry requirements for most apprenticeships are usually 5 GCSEs at grades 9-4, including English, Maths and at least one Science subject.
Jobs in the nuclear industry are highly paid due to the risk factors involved with the work, and the expertise you’ll need to ensure safety.
Nuclear energy isn’t the kind of thing you can create in your bedroom of course – there are 8 power plants in the UK and many more specialised research facilities. While 8 power plants sounds like a lot, the chances are low that there’ll be one on your doorstep. This means that you might need to relocate or travel if you’re working on-site in the future.
Build the energy solutions of the future
Many professionals that work in the nuclear industry will tell you that there’s a lot of potential for this energy source – it’s even called ‘the future of energy’.