Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

In the simplest explanation, nuclear power reactor operators are responsible for the flow of energy at a nuclear power plant. They move control rods, start and stop equipment, and are responsible for recording data into logs. Nuclear power reactor operators are also the ones who implement emergency procedures when necessary. People in this career are highly trained problem solvers, licensed to do their work.

Also known as: Licensed Reactor Operator, Nuclear Control Operator, Nuclear Plant Operator, Nuclear Station Operator, Nuclear Supervising Operator

Pay Scale

$104,260 in 2021 in WA

$104,260 in 2021 in U.S.


High School Diploma, Certification, Associate’s

Projected Opportunities

300 through 2031 in U.S.

Career Path

The career path for a nuclear power reactor operator begins with education/training. Most companies will require a high school diploma and work in an entry-level position such as a non-licensed reactor operator, where you will receive on-the-job training or complete further education through an apprenticeship or certification/associate degree program. Once licensed as a reactor operator, there is room for advancement into a senior nuclear power reactor operator.

nuclear power reactor operator career path

Training & Requirements


Nuclear Power Reactor Operators typically have a high school diploma and complete on-the-job training. Employers require experience in entry level positions prior to becoming a licensed operator through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Candidates with bachelor’s degree should have completed a program in engineering, engineering technology, or related sciences.

Required Skills

    • Strong communication with supervisors and other employees
    • Critical thinking
    • Knowledge of machines and tools, including usage and repair
    • Practical application of engineering science and technology
    • Attention to detail


      • Operate reactors in accordance with policies and procedures
      • Protect workers from radiation and ensure environmental safety
      • Respond to system abnormalities, diagnose the cause, and recommend or take corrective action
      • Operate energy production and distribution equipment