The U.S. Navy powers many of its aircraft carriers as well as a large portion of its submarine fleet using high-technology nuclear reactors. Navy nuclear power specialists are found in both the enlisted and commissioned officer communities and they’re some of the most thoroughly trained personnel in the sea service. As of 2014, there are 62 U.S. nuclear power plants in 35 states with 100 nuclear reactors among them. Nuclear power plant operators are also continuously on the lookout for trained Navy nuclear power specialists and engineers.
U.S. Navy nuclear power program personnel in both the enlisted as well as officer ranks spend a great deal of time in training prior to assuming their duties. Navy sailors entering the sea service’s nuclear power career field must score very highly in certain portions of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery as well as the supplementary test for nuclear field program. Navy officers hoping to become nuclear engineers come to the service with four-year or higher college degrees and strong math and science backgrounds.
Energy companies typically operate the nation’s private nuclear power plants and job prospects for Navy nuclear field personnel leaving the service are always high. According to a 2012 article at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website, the nuclear energy industry is looking to former Navy nuclear field officer and enlisted personnel to fill a worker shortage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also says that nuclear power operators earned a 2012 median pay of $68,230 annually, with entry into the field often requiring only a high school diploma or the equivalent.
For Navy nuclear field officers possessing higher-level engineering training the pay and employment prospects are as bright as the prospects for their enlisted nuclear field counterparts. Trained nuclear engineers earn a median salary of $104,270 as of 2012. A Navy nuclear field officer leaving the service can also expect to be recruited by a variety of employers associated with the nuclear power industry. As the Journal-Constitution notes, Navy officer and enlisted personnel leaving the service’s nuclear field are particularly highly sought after by civilian plant operators.
Navy nuclear field sailors and officers leaving the sea service can search for careers in the nuclear power industry through a wide variety of sources such as recruiting firms and online jobs boards. Many current employees of civilian nuclear power plant operators are also nearing retirement age, leaving the industry to scramble for new employees. With a civilian nuclear power industry employee shortage looming, there may never be a better time for Navy nuclear power personnel to move into lucrative and rewarding post-service nuclear careers.