Friday, September 11, 2015

Should we see the nuclear industry as a stable source of engineer/chemist jobs?

It's apparently Nuclear Week here. From the inbox, a chemist position at the South Texas Project Electric Generating Station: 
Chemist (1575) 
Summary: Develops, implements and administers assigned Chemistry programs. Provides chemistry related technical support for the operation, maintenance, testing, and modification of assigned systems. Carries out assignments requiring the development of new or improved techniques and procedures, resulting in the development of new refined equipment, materials, processes, products, and/or scientific methods.
Best wishes to those interested.

A related question: what do people think of the nuclear industry as a long-term source of jobs? Cracked (yes, I know) has an interesting article on life at a nuclear power plant with this paragraph:
Speaking of which, the people are also old. Most of the plants opened around the same time, so once everyone was hired and all the positions filled up, there was no need to bring in additional people. Then, after Three Mile Island happened, we stopped building plants, which means we stopped creating new positions for new people. Therefore, most of my coworkers are decades older than me. In the next couple of years, 38 percent of the industry's 120,000 workers are set to retire, giving the 90-plus plants a baby boomer crisis of a worker exodus. 
I am always skeptical of the promise of retirement-related job growth.

  • Just because Baby Boomers are retiring does not necessarily mean that new entry- or mid-level jobs are created.  
  • Also the retirement wealth lost in the Great Recession means that a lot of retirements were delayed - I suspect that trend continues. 
  • The U.S. Navy tends to naturally produce a lot of nuclear-trained engineers and operators - I suspect, though I do not know, that they probably produce more than the civilian industry can absorb. 
  • BLS indicates that nuclear engineer job growth is predicted to be 9% for the 2012-2022 time period, which is less than the 11% predicted for all occupations. 
  • It is my amateur understanding of the situation that NRC regulations tend to require high staffing ratios for engineers and operators? 
Readers, your thoughts? 

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