Nuclear Physicist Job Description

  • Helena Kudiabor
  • Jun 13 2022

Nuclear physicists enjoy solving technological problems, applying scientific knowledge to real-life scenarios and developing new ways of producing nuclear energy.


What does a nuclear physicist do?

The main role of a nuclear physicist is to find new ways to improve nuclear energy. You’ll work to develop new, cleaner, safer or more efficient means of producing nuclear energy. To do this, you’ll need to study the properties of nuclear materials. You’ll research topics like what holds protons in place, what the component particles that make up protons and neutrons are, and what matter was like after the Big Bang. In addition to this, you’ll conduct research working out how to detect nuclear material.

Why should I become a nuclear physicist?

By becoming a nuclear physicist, you’ll contribute to the database of knowledge within the science community. This means you’ll be advancing the possibilities of how we can use nuclear matter. Nuclear physicists even assist with the science of radiology, using tiny amounts of radioactive substances to diagnose and treat diseases faster than ever before. 

What sort of industries do nuclear physicists work in?

Although research makes up a large part of the field, there are opportunities in a wide range of sectors. Nuclear power plants require nuclear physicists, while medical physicists use radioactive material to treat illnesses like cancer. There’s even opportunities for nuclear physics within archeology. By measuring the decay of particles in an ancient object, nuclear technology can be used to determine how old the object is.

What skills do I need to become a nuclear physicist?

To become a nuclear physicist, you’ll need a strong academic background in physics, maths and computer science, research skills, the ability to use computer programs, and an interest in new developments within the field. Soft skills like problem solving, perseverance, effective communication and teamwork are also important.

How do I become a nuclear physicist?

You’ll typically need an undergraduate degree in physics, or a closely related field such as engineering.

Or, there’s the option to complete a degree apprenticeship in nuclear science. Apprenticeships offer a number of advantages, such as a fully funded education and the chance to earn money while learning.

These qualifications will allow you to access most careers at entry or medium-level. However, if you’d like to work as a researcher, you’ll need a postgraduate qualification.