The tremendous nuclear engineer salary in the United States makes nuclear engineer jobs some of the highest paying jobs in the whole country. While the nuclear engineer starting salary can vary from employer to employer, the nuclear engineer average salary in the U.S. is currently $102,950 per year (with the nuclear engineers salary per hour of $49.49), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, other sources like Salary.com mention that average salary of a nuclear engineer can range from $111,460 to $138,459 each year, depending on the company you work for or your location. To learn more about what can influence your future nuclear engineer salary, read our comprehensive article below.
Nuclear power plant in Cattenom, France. Image credits: Stefan Kühn via Wikipedia
Nuclear Engineer Salary Influencers
A big influential factor for the Navy nuclear engineer salary or general average salary of a nuclear engineer is the industry and company you work for. Most nuclear engineering and technology professionals work in the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry (41%, to be precise), while some work for the federal government (17%) or in research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences field (16%).
However, the notable decisive element for the average salary for nuclear engineer here is really the company that hires you. It is difficult to find the average salary nuclear engineer employees get online, but you can look into the specific company you want to get hired at for more information.
2. Geographic Area
As far as employment rates are in discussion, the BLS only provides data for a few states on this topic. From this point of view, the best states to look out for after studying the nuclear engineer job description are:
- Virginia – 2470
- Pennsylvania – 2140
- Washington – 1220
- South Carolina – 1060
- California – 810
A few of the states with the lowest employment rates for nuclear engineers are Nebraska, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida, just to name a few.
Now let’s get to the part that all future candidates are interested in: the states with the highest nuclear engineer salaries in the country:
- Nuclear power engineer salary in Tennessee – $123,440
- Nuclear reactor engineer salary in Alabama – $124,140
- Nuclear engineering Navy salary in California – $140,470
- Nuclear engineer salary in the District of Columbia – $149,720
- Naval nuclear engineer salary in New Mexico – $167,350
You should also keep an eye on the states with the lowest nuclear engineering salary range in the U.S.:
- Average salary for a nuclear engineer in Hawaii – $62,000
- Nuclear engineer pay in Alaska – $74,000
- Average salary nuclear engineer gets in South Dakota – $76,000
- Nuclear engineering average salary in Nevada – $77,000
- Average nuclear engineer salary in Utah – $78,000
Sokanu explains that the salaries of nuclear engineers are in the first 93% of all U.S. occupations. This means that even the junior nuclear engineer salary can be quite impressive, not to mention the great earnings involved in a senior nuclear engineer salary. The same source estimates that the starting salary for nuclear engineers is around $66,650, while a junior gets around $82,630. The salary grows as you become an experienced engineer, with the average senior nuclear engineer salary of $122,930.
Working Hours and Environment
Most nuclear engineers work full time. Moreover, about 1 in 3 nuclear engineers worked over 40 hours a week. Their working environment can vary, depending on their industry. While some nuclear engineers can work in offices, others work on site in power plants. They work closely with other engineers (like electrical and mechanical engineers) to combine systems and designs.
Nuclear Engineer Salary by State
|State||Annual mean wage ($)|
|District of Columbia||149720|
Bonuses and Benefit Packages
Nuclear engineers have access to a wide range of benefits, like bonuses, social security, healthcare, pension or time off, just to name a few. According to Salary.com, the percentages from the total compensation of nuclear engineers is divided as follows:
- Base salary – 72.3%
- Time off – 9.1%
- Social Security – 5.3%
- Pension – 4.6%
- Healthcare – 3.8%
- 401K / 403B – 2.7%
- Bonuses – 1.5%
- Disability – 0.7%
Unfortunately, the only part of a nuclear engineer career that might be disappointing for potential candidates is the job outlook. While the national employment outlook for all occupations in the United States is expected to increase 7% until 2024, the job opportunities for nuclear engineers are projected to decline 4% during the same timeframe.
The costs for building nuclear power plants are growing more and more as the years pass, limiting the possibility of hiring new personnel. However, experienced employees are expected to retire and open new opportunities for candidates. This means that the competition level is high for future nuclear engineers, but thorough preparation will greatly increase your chances of getting your dream job.
To conclude, the average nuclear engineer salary is enough to make any candidate on the job market excited. Nevertheless, it isn’t easy to become a top professional in this field, nor does the job outlook seem bright. If you truly feel that nuclear engineering is your calling, make sure that you meet the education requirements of the company you want to work for. Some employers might even ask for a Ph.D. for entry-level positions, so do what you can to be prepared. Once you get hired, enjoy the nuclear engineer salary and one of the best jobs in America!