Nuclear engineers with bachelor's degrees earned a median starting salary of $67,600 and a median mid-level salary of $117,000 the year running 2013 to 2014. Meanwhile, the median income for all employees with bachelor's degrees was $57,616, compared to $43,004 for all workers, in 2013. An undergraduate degree in nuclear engineering could lead to one of the top five most lucrative careers, both starting out in the field and mid-career.
A bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering is all that is necessary to be a nuclear engineer, but there are master's degree programs as well. A nuclear engineer may design or develop nuclear equipment or weapons, operate or maintain nuclear power plants to be sure they meet safety standards, write operational or instructional manuals regarding nuclear power plant operation and maintenance, perform experiments with nuclear material, shut down power plants in case of emergencies, study ways to prevent emergencies in the future, and dispose of nuclear waste. Nuclear engineers may be hired as occupational health and safety specialists to ensure that work environments that use nuclear material are safe for their employees, or they may focus on the effects of nuclear material on the environment. Most nuclear engineers work in offices, but they sometimes also work in power plants or research laboratories.