Two technicians in full-body suits carefully inspect a reinforced container

A nuclear monitoring technician could...

Teach researchers and clinicians how to safely handle and dispose of radio-labeled drugs. A worker with a face-shield inspects a yellow container Test levels of radiation on lab equipment to ensure the equipment is safe for researchers to use. A Geiger counter is held up against a radioactive sign
Track employee radiation exposure in the nuclear medicine wing of a hospital to ensure their safety. A person looks at graphs on a monitor Conduct emergency containment and evacuation drills with local response teams in a nuclear power plant. Two workers in hazmat suits open a large metal cylinder
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Key Facts & Information

Overview Nuclear technology is used to image the human body, destroy cancer cells, sterilize food and medical equipment, create pest or drought-resistant seeds, and to generate power for 1 in 5 U.S. homes and businesses. Nuclear monitoring technicians help to keep the people who work with nuclear technology and the environment safe from excessive radiation exposure. They use special instruments to measure and monitor the radiation levels of workers, work areas and equipment, and they are involved in decontaminating work areas to safe levels. They also educate workers on radiation safety.
Key Requirements Detail-oriented, meticulous, responsible, and observant with good communication skills.
Minimum Degree Vocational or Associate's degree
Subjects to Study in High School Chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, algebra II, English; if available, computer science, applied technology
Median Salary
Nuclear Monitoring Technician
U.S. Mean Annual Wage
Min Wage
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) Decline Slowly or Moderately (-3% to -9%)
  • In this video interview, you'll meet Dustin and Kimberly, who work as radiation safety technicians, or health physicists, and whose job it is to protect people from radiation exposure.
  • Learn what it is like to work at a nuclear power plant in this interview with radiation protection technician Kevin Ferdinando.
Related Occupations
Source: O*Net

Education and Training

Most employers of nuclear monitoring technicians hire workers who have an associate's degree from a community college or technical school, or a minimum of two years of specialized training in nuclear technology. Most workers need on-the-job training in addition to their formal schooling. Throughout their careers, workers must continue to study new developments, because the field changes rapidly.

Other Qualifications

Nuclear monitoring technicians must be careful and responsible workers. They should work well as part of an engineering team. They should also have an aptitude for science and mathematics. Due to the possible dangers of radiation, good judgment is an essential quality in this field.

Nature of the Work

Nuclear monitoring technicians, sometimes also called health physics technicians or radiation monitors, work in places that use radiation and radioactive material, helping to protect people and the environment from hazardous radiation exposure. They use special equipment to measure and monitor the radiation levels of people, work areas and equipment, and notify supervisors when individual exposures or area radiation levels are approaching maximum permissible limits. They keep records and enforce safety regulations to ensure that the amount of radiation at a nuclear facility remains within the limits established by health physicists.

In this video, you will see radiation protection assistants inspecting an old generator, checking for radioactive dust, and decontaminating the sides of the generator for storage.

Nuclear monitoring technicians are involved in the initial response to abnormal events and to alarms from radiation monitoring equipment. They determine or recommend radioactive decontamination procedures, according to the size and nature of equipment and the degree of contamination. They may also be involved in decontamination of work areas and materials; that is, reducing the amount of radioactivity to a safe level.

Nuclear monitoring technicians are involved in education, instructing personnel in radiation safety procedures, and in demonstrating the use of protective clothing and equipment.

Work Environment

Nuclear monitoring technicians work in modern laboratories and plants. Since some employees work close to radioactive materials, many precautions are taken to keep them safe from radiation poisoning. The nuclear energy field has an excellent safety record. Many nuclear technicians work 35–40 hours a week. In many cases they must work or be on-call for night, holiday, and weekend shifts. Some workers are unionized.

On the Job

  • Calculate safe radiation exposure times for personnel using plant contamination readings and prescribed safe levels of radiation.
  • Provide initial response to abnormal events and to alarms from radiation monitoring equipment.
  • Monitor personnel to determine the amounts and intensities of radiation exposure.
  • Inform supervisors when individual exposures or area radiation levels approach maximum permissible limits.
  • Instruct personnel in radiation safety procedures and demonstrate use of protective clothing and equipment.
  • Determine intensities and types of radiation in work areas, equipment, and materials, using radiation detectors and other instruments.
  • Collect samples of air, water, gases, and solids to determine radioactivity levels of contamination.
  • Set up equipment that automatically detects area radiation deviations and test detection equipment to ensure its accuracy.
  • Determine or recommend radioactive decontamination procedures, according to the size and nature of equipment and the degree of contamination.
  • Decontaminate objects by cleaning with soap or solvents or by abrading with wire brushes, buffing wheels, or sandblasting machines.
  • Place radioactive waste, such as sweepings and broken sample bottles, into containers for disposal.
  • Calibrate and maintain chemical instrumentation sensing elements and sampling system equipment, using calibration instruments and hand tools.
  • Place irradiated nuclear fuel materials in environmental chambers for testing and observe reactions through cell windows.
  • Enter data into computers to record characteristics of nuclear events and to locate coordinates of particles.
  • Operate manipulators from outside cells to move specimens into and out of shielded containers, to remove specimens from cells, or to place specimens on benches or equipment work stations.
  • Prepare reports describing contamination tests, material and equipment decontaminated, and methods used in decontamination processes.
  • Confer with scientists directing projects to determine significant events to monitor during tests.
  • Immerse samples in chemical compounds to prepare them for testing.
  • Weigh and mix decontamination chemical solutions in tanks and immerse objects in solutions for specified times, using hoists.
  • Test materials' physical, chemical, or metallurgical properties, using equipment such as tensile testers, hardness testers, metallographic units, micrometers, and gauges.

Source: BLS

Companies That Hire Nuclear Monitoring Technicians

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