In addition, a growing number of existing employees are retiring at the same time that demand for workers is exploding. Energy Central provides this report.
The utility workforce is graying. That's no secret. But, the matter is particularly acute in the nuclear sector where half of the schools that train everyone from engineers to plant operators have dropped by the wayside over the last 25 years. Now, of course, nuclear power is reemerging as a viable energy source. Nothing is certain. But, if the public fully embraces the concept, the people that run the facilities won't just materialize out of thin air.
The U.S. Department of Labor released a report saying that a third of the workers in the nuclear industry are eligible to retire in the next five years. That equates to more than 19,000 people on all levels. To build a plant, however, requires at least 1,500 hands. And with 30 facilities now under consideration, the potential shortfall is evident.[ ... ]
"Our growing need for labor isn't incremental," says Anthony Topazi, CEO of Mississippi Power, at the energy summit in Biloxi. "It is exponential. We must meet this demand if we are going to satisfy the needs of this economy and this country's national security." An estimated 185,000 utility construction workers are needed by 2015, he says.
Market economies can and do respond to demands. Under any scenario, utilities will have to dig deep by either paying more to their existing workers to entice them to stay longer or they will have to help underwrite scholastic programs to attract fresh minds. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting average starting salaries at more than $51,000 for nuclear engineers, recruiting is made easier. Forbes magazine, meanwhile, says that experienced plant operators take home more than $56,000.
Workers of all stripes are encouraged to re-evaluate their job skills and to network. Now is the time to retool and to begin to discover where the new possibilities lie. For those willing to embrace change and upcoming challenges, they will increase their long-term value throughout the energy industry. Indeed, energy companies are ripe with new opportunities, particularly in the nuclear sector.
While the Energy Central report focuses on new plants, there is also significant demand for workers at operating plants. The operating plants are where security screening is the tightest. A relatively clean criminal background is required, and random drug and alcohol testing is mandatory.
Jobs are available for all levels of skills, from engineers to laborers, and previous nuclear experience is not a requirement. Military service will move you near the front of the line. The money is good to great.
Nuclear job openings are posted at the following sites, as well as at many nuclear operator's websites.