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What Does a Radiological Engineer Do?

By Benjamin Arie
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The job of a radiological engineer is to design systems and technologies that use radiation. These professionals are also known as nuclear engineers. Individuals in this field work on a variety of different projects, including nuclear power generation, medical technologies, and radioactive fuel disposal. Nuclear engineers are required to hold at least a four-year college degree.

All radiological engineers are experts in both atomic fission and fusion. These two scientific phenomenon involve the breakdown and the combination of atomic particles. The radiation produced from nuclear reactions can be used in many productive ways. Radiation is also potentially deadly. Radiological engineers must follow nuclear safety procedures in order to keep themselves and others safe.

Many nuclear engineers focus on one particular application of radiological technology. Experts who specialize in nuclear power generation often work for the power industry or the military. Engineers at nuclear power plants and aboard nuclear-powered ships monitor radiation and heat levels to keep reactors within safe limits. Some nuclear engineers work in laboratories, and conduct research for new reactor cores and radiation shields.

Many radiological engineer positions are also found in the medical industry. Nuclear engineers help advance different medical imaging technologies, including magnetic resonance devices and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners. Engineers in this field also assist with developing radiation therapy procedures. This specialty uses ionizing radiation to control malignant cells and fight cancer.

Used radioactive materials continue to produce dangerous radiation for many years. Some radiological engineers focus on properly storing and containing spent nuclear fuel, such as uranium. Engineers in this specialty may work for energy companies or the government, and oversee the proper transport and disposal of fuel.

Regardless of the specialty, a radiological engineer typically begins by gaining a bachelor's degree. At this level, students take classes in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Many nuclear engineers also pursue an advanced master's degree. This involves more detailed study of topics related to nuclear science. The education of a radiological expert does not stop after college, as engineers typically attend internships and conferences throughout their career to stay up to date on changes in the nuclear industry.

Due to the sensitive nature of nuclear technology, many nuclear engineers must also hold a security clearance. This clearance is often required for professionals who work for the government or military. A security clearance involves a detailed background check. Engineers must typically have clean criminal records, no history of financial problems, and several character references in order to gain this clearance.

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