Naval Reactors Engineers are Officers responsible for researching, designing, operating and regulating nearly 100 nuclear reactors and power plants that drive the most advanced Fleet of submarines and aircraft carriers on earth. It’s a challenging role serving a critical function, and one of the most highly respected positions available in America’s Navy.
From its location at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., Naval Reactors (NR) are responsible for all shipboard nuclear power plants, shore-based prototypes, and nuclear propulsion support facilities for America’s Navy. The wide array of technical areas involved in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion program include:
Reactor and fluid systems design
Component design such as steam generators, pumps and valves
Instrumentation and control of reactor, steam and electric plants
Testing and quality control
Chemistry and radiological controls
As a Naval Reactors Engineer, you will typically be in charge of several projects at once - taking the lead in anything from designing nuclear reactors, to developing refueling procedures, to decommissioning of nuclear propulsion plants.
Preliminary training and eventual staff assignments center around the NR headquarters in D.C. The process will take you from earning a post-graduate level education in academic settings, to training on prototype units.
Even junior level Nuclear Reactors Engineers assume responsibility for key technical work in a variety of state-of-the-art facilities, including:
Two Department of Energy laboratories
Two nuclear prototype/training sites
Nearly 100 nuclear-powered ships and submarines
More than 1,000 firms that support the Naval Reactors Program
Training & Advancement
Upon graduation from college, the formal training process of becoming an Officer in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion program is officially underway. For those pursuing a Naval Reactors Engineer position, the first step is Officer Development School (ODS) – a 5-week course in Newport, R.I., that provides a comprehensive and intense introduction to the responsibilities of being a Navy Staff Corps Officer.
Upon completion of ODS, newly commissioned Officers move on to receive the advanced training that is at the core of Navy Nuclear Propulsion. First comes four to five months of preliminary training at Naval Reactors Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is followed by approximately two weeks spent gaining a working background at one of the Navy’s land-based prototypes in either Charleston, S.C., or Albany, N.Y.
The next step is Naval Reactors Training Program (NRTP), a 6-month postgraduate-level education in nuclear engineering. This is provided through the Bettis Reactor Engineering School at the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Following Naval Reactors Training, Naval Reactors Engineers are then assigned a Nuclear Engineer position with the group responsible for managing all technical aspects of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion program – planning, approving and confirming the design, operation and maintenance of nearly 100 nuclear reactors. Engineers start in a junior role under a supervisor and rapidly advance to take on increasing responsibilities.
For current undergraduate students who meet the prerequisite background – especially those pursuing preferred majors such as mathematics, engineering, physics or chemistry – there’s all of the above to look forward to plus the chance to get paid while finishing school through the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program.
Interested candidates should contact a local recruiter to discuss the opportunity to participate in a Naval Reactors visit to see if this career is right for you. The visit is an all-expense paid 3-day trip to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. to visit with currently serving Naval Reactor Engineers. There is no obligation, and these trips are held regularly.
If accepted into the NUPOC program as an aspiring Naval Reactors Engineer, you can:
Receive salary and benefits worth potentially over $100,000 and start receiving this funding up to 18 months prior to college graduation
Receive an immediate one-time sign-on bonus of $15,000
Enjoy military health-care benefits while you are a student in the program
Once out of school, you’ll have a position waiting as a respected professional and Officer affiliated with one of the most accomplished nuclear programs on earth. And beyond undergraduate and formal Navy training and education, Naval Reactors Engineers can also pursue additional graduate education by:
Pursuing opportunities at institutions such as Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) or Naval War College (NWC)
Completing Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) at one of the various service colleges
There’s also potential to pursue international and federal certifications, as well as state nuclear licensures.
Qualifications & Requirements
Because of the exclusive nature of the NUPOC program and the magnitude of the responsibilities members will take on from a young age, requirements to become a candidate are extensive – and competition for acceptance is great.
The NUPOC program is open to both men and women. The following program qualification criteria apply.
AGE AND HEALTH
To be an eligible candidate, you must:
Be a U.S. citizen
Be at least 19 years of age and less than 29 years of age at the time of commissioning – waivers up to age 35 may be available for Naval Reactors Engineers
Meet the physical standards of the Navy
Candidates must be graduates or students of an accredited college or university in the United States or in a United States territory pursuing a BA, BS or MS (preferably majoring in mathematics, engineering, physics, chemistry or other technical areas). Those still in school may apply as early as their junior year of college and must have:
Completed one academic year of calculus
Completed one academic year of calculus-based physics
A competitive GPA and a minimum grade of “B” in all technical courses
Learn more about the NUPOC program.
General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you’re currently serving, whether you’ve served before or whether you’ve never served before.
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