Skip to main content

Seats at the Nuclear Employment Table

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010 data), a nuclear technician can earn an average of $68,090 per year or $32.73 per hour with an Associate’s degree and no experience — none, as in nada, zilch, zip — in the industry. Power plant operators, distributors and dispatchers controlling systems that generate and distribute electric power can earn as much as $65,360 with a high school diploma, while nuclear engineers are paid $99,920 with a Bachelor’s degree.

The key word in that paragraph is nada, as the story in Politic365 is about the potential for ambitious young Latinos to join the nuclear energy industry. Now, you may ask, anyone can get into the industry without consideration of ethnic background, right?

That’s certainly true. For those that rankle at minority communities being targeted for potential careers and jobs, it’s really more an issue of communicating the existence and potential of those jobs than picking people off the street and installing them in those jobs. One still has to apply for them and prove capable of doing the work. And a good many of the jobs require educational achievement and even more than that.

“The nuclear energy industry pays more because it requires security clearance. As in police and firefighters’ jobs, young men and women in this industry need to ‘keep their nose clean’ and be on the right path. The difference is that right now state and local government jobs are fading away while these well-paid union jobs will continue to increase in the near future,” Avilla said. “So why not encourage our children to take those jobs?” — especially if they are being seeked [sic; sought] out by the industry.

Avilla is Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO) President Karen Avilla. She is also a member of the CASEnergy Coalition, a nuclear advocacy group that has shown an increased interest  in minority job recruitment in recent years.

The most marked aspect of the jobs available in nuclear energy is that they foster solid middle class lives, something that has become more difficult to achieve for the current generation of young people. You can buy a house, get married and raise a family in relative comfort on these salaries – not least because most nuclear energy facilities are not near urban centers, but more likely in suburban or exurban communities. Dollars go further.

However one promotes the jobs, the bottom line for any ethnic community – including Anglo-American - is that the work is available, pays well, does not always demand a large educational investment, provides work that cannot be exported, and encourages a diverse employment base. It’s a pretty welcoming picture altogether.

I realize this has gotten to be more of a sales pitch than I intended, but so be it. The nuclear energy industry really does have a lot of positives from a potential employee’s point of view. I’ll just go all the way with it and point you to NEI’s Careers and Education pages.

The pictures (and more on the companies’ diversity commitments) : PSEG, Entergy, and Exelon.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…