Nuclear Engineers: Salary Overview
Nuclear engineers try to find industrial and medical uses for radioactive materials.
They may also specialize in developing nuclear power sources for ships or spacecraft.
A nuclear engineer’s job description may involve designing and developing nuclear equipment, performing maintenance on nuclear power plants to ensure that they meet safety standards, writing instructions for nuclear plant operations, and monitoring nuclear facility operations.
They may also examine nuclear accidents to design preventive measures and may take corrective actions or order plant shutdowns in emergencies.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for nuclear engineers was $113,460 in May 2019 which means that half of all workers in this occupation earned less than this amount and half earned more.
Nuclear engineer salaries vary depending on their experience, education but also on the industry and the region of employment.
The numbers published by BLS show that the lowest 10 percent earned less than $71,860 while the top 10 percent made more than $179,430 per year.
Nuclear Engineer Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nuclear engineers held approximately 17,700 jobs in the United States in 2018.
Their biggest employers were the industry of electric power generation, transmission, and distribution, the federal government, the field of scientific research and development, the manufacturing field, and the industry of engineering services.
The average annual wage reported by nuclear engineers who worked in the field of electric power generation, transmission, and distribution was $107,880 as of May 2018.
Nuclear engineers employed in the field of scientific research and development services reported an average annual wage of $123,690 while those who worked in the federal executive branch earned, on average, $94,510 per year.
The mean salary was $132,080 per year for nuclear engineers who worked for companies that provide architectural, engineering, and related services and $149,150 for those who worked in the field of management, scientific, and technical consulting services.
In conclusion, salaries for nuclear engineers vary widely depending on the industry of employment.
The highest-paying industry was the field of management, scientific, and technical consulting services while the lowest average annual salary was reported by nuclear engineers who worked for the federal executive branch.
There are many other factors that can determine how much a nuclear engineer makes each year.
For example, holding a Ph.D. in your field of expertise may help you get a better-paying position in research.
Experience is another important factor in determining the nuclear engineer’s salary.
As an entry-level employee, your salary will most likely be closer to the minimum for this profession but, as you gain experience, your earnings will increase.
Salaries for nuclear engineers also vary depending on the region of employment.
The highest average annual salaries were reported by nuclear engineers in Maryland, New Mexico, California, Idaho, and Tennessee.
The mean annual salaries in these regions were above $125,000.
Nuclear engineers in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia, and Washington reported average annual salaries that were below the $100,000 mark.
Bonuses and Other Perks
Along with a base salary, some nuclear engineers also receive bonuses and a share of the company’s profit.
According to a report published by payscale.com in July 2020, on average, nuclear engineers made $5,093 a year in bonuses and $3,041 in profit sharing.
These additional cash earnings also vary depending on a number of factors, and nuclear engineers make between $700-$15,000 a year in bonuses and between less than $700 and $18,000 in profit sharing.
In conclusion, although you will need to spend around six years in higher education, becoming a nuclear engineer can help you earn a pretty decent salary and if you’re passionate about science this can lead to a career that is both professionally and financially rewarding.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Nuclear Engineers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.