Nuclear Monitoring Technician
A nuclear monitoring technician could...
|Teach researchers and clinicians how to safely handle and dispose of radio-labeled drugs.||Test levels of radiation on lab equipment to ensure the equipment is safe for researchers to use.|
|Track employee radiation exposure in the nuclear medicine wing of a hospital to ensure their safety.||Conduct emergency containment and evacuation drills with local response teams in a nuclear power plant.|
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|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||Decline Slowly or Moderately (-3% to -9%)|
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.
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.
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.
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.
Companies That Hire Nuclear Monitoring Technicians
Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...
Do you have a specific question about a career as a Nuclear Monitoring Technician that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.
- O*Net Online. (2016). National Center for O*Net Development. Retrieved July 1, 2017, from https://www.onetonline.org/
- Net Industries. (2009). Nuclear Technician Job Description, Career as a Nuclear Technician, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/368/Nuclear-Technician.html
- YouTube. (2009, January 21). Radiation Protection. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QnIiUVNdOc&feature=player_embedded
- Wisconsin Technical Colleges. (2008, January 23). Radiation Safety Tech - Wisconsin Technical Colleges. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02SPsfHzFQE&feature=related