Navy Commissioned Officer Job Description

Naval Reactors Engineer

The logo of Naval Reactors,
The logo of Naval Reactors,. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Age: At least 19 and less than 29 at the time of commission. Waivers may be considered for those who would not exceed age 35 at commission.


- BA/BS/MS in preferred majors: Math, Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry.
- Within 2 ½ years of graduation (1yr - MS), with a minimum of:
-1 yr Calculus
-1 yr Calculus-based Physics (Calculus must be through differential and integral calculus of one real variable.

Physics must cover the classic fundamentals of mechanics, magnetism, and electricity.)
- "B" or better in all technical courses.
- Competitive 3.3+ GPA


- OIS (5 wks)
- DNR OJT (4-5 months)
- Land-based prototype (2 wks)
- Reactor Design Study at Bettis Reactor Engineer School (6 months)

Vision/Med: N/A


NUC Interview

Service Obligation

5 yrs from OIS graduation.
- Total of 8 yrs Active & Inactive.

Special Info

- No accession bonus.
- Paid as E-6 (up to $2600/mo) while finishing school. Advanced to E-7 (add'l $250/mo) for referral resulting in NUC accession.
- Commissioned as ENS prior to reporting to OIS.

Disciplines involved: reactor design, materials development, testing and quality control, component design, instrumentation and control, shielding, reactor physics, fluid systems design, & chemistry and radiological controls.

Program Description

Program Overview.
Naval Reactors (NR) is located at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC, and is a joint Department of Energy and Department of the Navy activity.

NR has a "cradle to grave" responsibility for all shipboard nuclear power plants, shore-based prototypes, and nuclear propulsion support facilities for the U.S. Navy. Admiral Hyman G. Rickover founded NR in 1948. NR's significant achievements include the development of the propulsion plant in the first nuclear powered submarine, USS NAUTILUS; the first commercial nuclear power station, Shippingport Atomic Power Station; and the propulsion plants for over 100 nuclear powered ships, including six classes of submarines, two classes of cruisers, and two classes of carriers.

NR Headquarters consists of about 250 engineers, who technically manage the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program under the direction of the current director, Admiral Frank Bowman. About 100 of these engineers are junior naval officers with engineering or technical degrees. This Headquarters group is responsible for all aspects of the Nuclear Propulsion Program including:

· Advanced research and development in concepts, materials, design, and operation of nuclear propulsion plants
· Training and qualification of nuclear propulsion plant operators
· Reactor safety and radiological controls
· Development of equipment, procedures, and specifications for naval nuclear propulsion plants
· Overseeing the acquisition, construction, testing, and operation of propulsion plants
· Developing and implementing the operating, maintenance, and refueling procedures for these plants
· Resolving emergent fleet technical issues
· Decommissioning the nuclear propulsion plants when removed from service

Graduate level education. By virtue of the Naval Reactors training program, a junior engineer gains familiarity with shipyard and prototype operations and obtains a post-graduate level education in Nuclear Engineering through the Bettis Reactor Engineering School at the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This background gives the individual a wide breadth of understanding of all aspects of nuclear propulsion and the flexibility to move into other technical areas involved in nuclear propulsion work. Under a supervisor, junior engineers assume responsibility for various portions of technical work in their assigned areas. This includes directing technical work at one of two Department of Energy laboratories, six shipyards, two nuclear prototype/training sites, over 100 nuclear-powered ships, and over 1000 firms that support the Naval Reactors Program. All of these organizations are subject to the technical direction of the engineers at Naval Reactors.

Wide array of technical areas involved in work at Naval Reactors. Disciplines involved in naval nuclear propulsion include the following:

· Reactor design
· Materials development
· Testing and quality control
· Component design such as steam generators, pumps, and valves
· Instrumentation and control of reactor, steam, and electric plants
· Shielding
· Reactor physics
· Fluid systems design
· Chemistry and radiological controls

Research and Project Assignments. A typical engineer at NR will be responsible for several projects, components, or designs. In this respect, the engineer has the responsibility for technical matters, which can entail review and approval of designs, allocating funds and technically directing contractor effort, ascertaining test requirements, reviewing and approving test results, responding to fleet problems by coordinating technical investigations and approving corrective actions, and determining the scope of work and timetables to support future projects. To perform this work, NR has facilities with state of the art capabilities in terms of computer aided design, material testing, and component testing. Engineers occasionally ride onboard nuclear-powered ships to oversee initial sea trials, observe propulsion plant performance, and evaluate crew performance. Further, engineers visit shipyards, laboratories, and vendors to evaluate nuclear propulsion work. The emphasis at all times is on technical involvement and control of the work to ensure that shore-based training reactors and shipboard reactors meet fleet requirements and are operated safely.

Very Challenging Work Environment. The working environment at Naval Reactors is challenging and rewarding. All engineers selected for NR assignment are in the top 10 percent of their collegiate class. As such, you will be working with the best and brightest technical experts in the country. The skills you learn at Naval Reactors will be of value for the rest of your career, whether you choose to remain in the military or enter the private sector following your initial obligation. You will obtain ​a post-graduate level education in nuclear engineering, learn to manage technical projects, improve your communication and presentation skills, hone your problem-solving abilities and interact with senior managers from government and supporting contractors.

Impact on the future. You will assume significant responsibility at Naval Reactors, an essential requirement for becoming a successful technical manager. You will be responsible for designing, maintaining, and ensuring the safe operation if the most advanced reactor plants in the world. Further, you will have the opportunity to influence decisions to ensure these and future naval reactor plants have improved reliability, endurance, capability, and safety.

Eligibility Overview.

Citizenship: Applicants must be citizens of the United States.

Sex: Open to men and women.

Age: At least 19 and less than 29 years of age at the time of commissioning. Waivers may be considered on a case basis for those who would not exceed 35 at commissioning.

Education: Completed or working on a baccalaureate degree and within one year of graduation, with a minimum of one year of calculus and one year of calculus-based physics. Calculus must be through differential and integral calculus of one real variable. Physics must cover the classic fundamentals of mechanics, magnetism, and electricity. Applicants who have completed a baccalaureate degree and are enrolled in a master's degree program must be within one year of completion of the master's degree.

Marital status: No restrictions.

Physical: In accordance with restricted line standards listed in the Manual of Medicine Department, Chapter 15.


  • 6 weeks in Newport, RI at Officer Indoctrination School (OIS).
  • Approximately 4-5 months initial assignment at NR Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
  • Approximately 2 weeks training at land-based prototype
  • 6 months studying reactor design at Bettis Reactor Engineering School in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Obligation.
  • The obligation is 5 years as a commissioned officer upon satisfactory completion of OIS.
  • Entitlements.
  • Finishing college: While on active duty, you will be paid as an E-6
  • (up to $2500 per month).
  • Opportunity for advancement to E-7 for referral resulting in a new accession into the NUPOC or NPI/NR Engineer program (additional $250 per month).
  • Commissioned as ENSIGN prior to OIS.

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