Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

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About the Job

Operate or control nuclear reactors. Move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, and record data in logs. Implement emergency procedures when needed. May respond to abnormalities, determine cause, and recommend corrective action.

It is also Called

  • Unit Reactor Operator
  • Senior Reactor Operator
  • Reactor Operator (RO)
  • Power Reactor Operator
  • Nuclear Unit Operator
  • Nuclear Supervising Operator (NSO)
  • Nuclear Station Operator (NSO)
  • Nuclear Reactor Operator
  • Nuclear Power Reactor Operator
  • Nuclear Power Plant Process Control Worker
show all

What They Do

  • Identify or direct implementation of appropriate decontamination procedures, based on equipment and the size, nature, and type of contamination.
  • Direct measurement of the intensity or types of radiation in work areas, equipment, or materials.
  • Direct the collection and testing of air, water, gas, or solid samples to determine radioactivity levels or to ensure appropriate radioactive containment.
  • Authorize actions to correct identified operational inefficiencies or hazards so that operating efficiency is maximized and potential environmental issues are minimized.
  • Supervise technicians' work activities to ensure that equipment is operated in accordance with policies and procedures that protect workers from radiation and ensure environmental safety.
  • Authorize maintenance activities on units or changes in equipment or system operational status.
  • Direct reactor operators in emergency situations, in accordance with emergency operating procedures.
  • Conduct inspections or operations outside of control rooms as necessary.
  • Review and edit standard operating procedures.
  • Dispatch orders or instructions to personnel through radiotelephone or intercommunication systems to coordinate auxiliary equipment operation.


People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: RCE.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Realistic interests, but also prefer Conventional and Enterprising environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Support, but also value Working Conditions and Achievement in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Education Required

Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

LMI Region


In 2014, the average annual wage in New Jersey was $84,090 with most people making between $65,550 and $100,360


avg. annual growth

During 2012, this occupation employed approximately 500 people in New Jersey. It is projected that there will be 580 employed in 2022.

This occupation will have about 8 openings due to growth and about 12 replacement openings for approximately 20 total annual openings.

Industries that Employ this Occupation

Industry breakdown is not available for this occupation