According to the Department of Energy, 20% of America’s electrical power comes from nuclear energy, which is generated by splitting the atoms in matter. One of the questions you might ask yourself if which is the better course of study for someone who wants to go into the field of nuclear power is which one is nuclear engineering.
There are significant differences between the types of work and education required for each career path, despite the fact that both have exciting potentials.
Physicists and scientists generally study the theory of a particular branch of physical science, such as nuclear physics, whereas nuclear engineers apply scientific and mathematical principles to the design of nuclear energy-related devices, systems, and processes.
The advantages of choosing nuclear engineering over nuclear science include the ability to begin working sooner, the ability to specialize sooner, and the ability to choose from a wider range of career options.
A Shorter Course of Study
To become a nuclear power worker, how long does it take to complete the training? You may have to go to school for an extended period of time depending on the degree you choose. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree is all you need to become a nuclear engineer (BLS). The BLS says that if you want to be a nuclear physicist, you’ll probably need to go to graduate school.
It takes longer to get into the workforce and costs more money and time to do so if you want to become a nuclear physicist, for example.
Increased Number of Degree Specializations
Nuclear engineering degrees are more widely available than nuclear science degrees, making it easier to find a school. Unfortunately, undergraduate programs in nuclear physics and nuclear science are rare, perhaps as a result of the high demand for advanced degrees in the fields of medicine and science.
Twenty-two nuclear and radiological engineering undergraduate programs are ABET-approved by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). Accreditation for nuclear engineering programs requires that students learn to apply atomic and nuclear physics to nuclear systems and processes, to measure those processes, to perform nuclear engineering design, and to work in any specializations that are included in the degree program.
Students in a nuclear engineering program may take courses such as Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, Radiation Effects on Nuclei, Nuclear Reactor Theory, and Radiation Detection Laboratory.
Introduction to Nuclear Science, Introduction to Nuclear Measurements, Applications of Nuclear Science, Theoretical Mechanics, Thermal Physics, Modern Physics, Electronics and Electromagnetic Theory are just a few of the topics covered in the few four-year undergraduate programs in nuclear science and physics that do exist. Pre-medical and physics specializations may also be available in nuclear science undergraduate programs.
Nuclear science bachelor degree programs are scarce, so many students begin college with a general physics major and must wait until graduate school to begin studying nuclear physics. Nuclear engineering majors, on the other hand, devote their undergraduate years to mastering the fundamentals of their chosen field.
Nuclear engineering students can also benefit from internships with electric and energy companies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Academia isn’t the only place to look for work.
Depending on the degree you choose, you will have a wide range of career options available to you when you graduate. About 22% of all physicists are employed by colleges and universities, many of whom are nuclear physicists. They study atomic and subatomic particles to learn more about their properties.
However, even though physics research can be applied rather than theoretical research, it still does not have the immediate effect on the larger world that nuclear engineering design does Physicists work for the federal government in 19% of cases, while scientific research and development services employ 30% of them.
A nuclear engineer goes beyond the role of a researcher and develops ways to use and harness nuclear energy. It was reported by the BLS that some nuclear engineers work on reactor cores and radiation shielding. Electric power generation employs about 40% of nuclear engineers. They are responsible for overseeing operations, managing maintenance, and instructing nuclear power plant workers on safe nuclear waste disposal procedures.
Nuclear power is being used for a variety of practical purposes by those who aren’t directly involved in the generation of energy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). About 17% of nuclear engineers are employed by the federal government, 15% by research and development services, 7% by engineering services, and 5% by manufacturing industries, according to the aforementioned statistics..
In the end, how you plan to use nuclear power is the most important consideration when deciding between these degrees. Nuclear physics may be a better choice for jobs in academic research, but studying nuclear engineering can lead to real-world solutions for power generation and medical issues.
About one-fifth of all government-employed physicists have earned a bachelor’s degree in the subject matter they currently work in. There are many professions where master’s and Ph.D. degrees are required.