Despite claims by anti-nuclear groups of the pending demise of nuclear energy production in the United States, the nuclear renaissance is alive and well. According to the non-partisan Energy Information Administration, nuclear energy production in the USA will continue to expand for the next 25 years.
Electricity generation from nuclear power plants grows by 14 percent in the AEO2013 Reference case, from 790 billion kilowatt-hours in 2011 to 903 billion kilowatt-hours in 2040, accounting for about 17 percent of total generation in 2040 (compared with 19 percent in 2011). Nuclear generating capacity increases from 101 gigawatts in 2011 to a high of 114 gigawatts in 2025 through a combination of new construction (5.5 gigawatts), uprates at existing plants (8.0 gigawatts), and retirements (0.6 gigawatts).
Coupled with retirements among the 120,000 people who work in the nuclear industry, this expansion means continued career opportunities building, operating and maintaining the nation’s fleet of commercial reactors. And this is just the start. In addition to the 100 commercial nuclear plants operating in United States, there are 335 in operation in other nations and 73 more under construction (including four in the USA).
Recently announced shutdowns of four nuclear energy facilities in the USA has done little to dampen the demand for talent; the industry has more than enough demand for knowledgeable workers to absorb those displaced by plant closures. While some older nuclear plants will gradually go out of service over the next few decades they’ll be replaced with larger power plants that require larger staff sizes. New technologies like small modular reactors may add even more jobs in advanced manufacturing and construction.
What does all this mean for career opportunities? Every nuclear plant employs at about 600 to 1500 people depending on the power plant size, the technology used, and the number of reactors at the facility. In the USA alone the combination of modest expansion and hiring to replace about 40% of the workforce over the next decade means nuclear energy companies will hire 30,000 to 50,000 new engineers, operators, and technicians. The numbers are even larger in other countries where growth will create more than 70,000 career opportunities as new facilities come on line.
More information about nuclear energy careers is available below:
- Explore Amazing Career Opportunities in Nuclear Energy
- 5 Nuclear Jobs Starting at $50,000 that don’t require a 4-year degree