Twenty-first century is the era of nuclear energy and subjects that are deeply rooted in nuclear energy are getting a lot of attention from today’s youngsters. Nuclear physics is one of such subjects.
Nuclear physics is a branch of applied sciences and it deals with the study of nuclear energy, particularly physics behind the production of nuclear energy. Nuclear physics as a subject is closely related to other nuclear sciences such as nuclear chemistry, nuclear medicine and nuclear engineering.
Major career option available in the field of nuclear physics is as a nuclear physicist. A candidate who wishes to become a nuclear physicist must have a bachelor’s degree in any of the applied sciences which must soon followed by a two year post graduate program in nuclear physics. Post graduate qualification in nuclear physics is sufficient to become a nuclear plant technician. However, a doctorate degree in nuclear physics is generally preferred for the position of nuclear physicist.
A candidate may obtain his bachelor degree from any university. However, post graduate academic programs in nuclear physics will be available with selected science universities and colleges. Sometimes, their admission criteria may include an admission test, followed by a personal interview.
Nuclear physicists are majorly employed as nuclear energy researchers in nuclear power plants, nuclear reactors, nuclear laboratories and nuclear energy research centers. Research careers in nuclear energy research centers and nuclear laboratories require the candidates to understand how to improve nuclear energy by researching on various nuclear phenomena such as nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.
Nuclear machinery or weapons-related research requires the candidates to work with nuclear weapons and equipments in order to understand their functioning and science behind it so that researchers may be able to improve nuclear weapons and nuclear equipments for better efficiency and maximum safety.
In certain cases, nuclear physicists are employed by multispecialty hospitals and medical research centers especially by cancer research centers. In a medical environment, nuclear physicists are supposed to work with various nuclear medicines, and radiation technologies such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technology. Career position available with the hospitals is generally as a Nuclear Physicist-Diagnostic Radiology.
Limited career opportunities are available for nuclear physicists in the field of archaeology also, where radiocarbon dating technology, a branch of nuclear physics is used to determine the age of archaeological findings. Other potential employers of nuclear physicists include multinational corporations, academic institutions, and federal government agencies that are active in the field of nuclear science.
In government agencies, nuclear physicists deal with the legal issues related to nuclear energy and are also responsible for drafting bills and legislations related to the setting up of nuclear plants and safe use of nuclear energy. In academic institutions, nuclear physicists are responsible for the training and teaching of nuclear physics students. Besides, some universities and nuclear physics research centers offer positions as post doctoral fellows to the eligible candidates.
Entry level positions such as nuclear plant technicians, nuclear lab technicians and radiology lab assistants may fetch a lower salary in the range of USD $ 30, 000 per annum while the annual salary of a nuclear physicist may go as high as USD $ 60,000 per annum.