Boom in nuclear qualifications
The number of US students earning nuclear engineering degrees has increased for the fifth year in a row.
The data comes from the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, which confirmed that the number of nuclear engineering degrees gained in the next few years is likely to remain at around at the same level. The report added that undergraduate enrolments for nuclear engineering courses had tripled between 2000 and 2008, but that the number still remained below those of the 1970s and early 1990s.
Continuous study was the number one aim of the majority of 2008's Bachelor-level graduates, with work at nuclear power companies coming second, service in the US military third, and 'other nuclear-related' work in fourth place. The USA has a very significant fleet of over 100 nuclear-powered naval vessels using broadly similar technology to that used in power plants. This leads to a great crossover of experienced staff whose military duties have ended.
For Masters-level graduates, continuous study was also the most popular next step, with 'other nuclear-related' work second and work for Department of Energy contractors in third place.
The institute said that numbers planning to enter the nuclear power industry had tripled since 2000 and reflected the annual numbers hired in the period up to 1998. Among the trends highlighted in the figures this increase "supports other information showing that there is increased interest in nuclear energy as a component of the economy and that there is a growing need to hire replacements to take over from an ageing nuclear workforce."