Training to ensure safe, reliable operations

Safety is key. Our operators train to keep the power flowing.

Continuous learning is part of any profession. Our nuclear professionals are no exception; indeed, no industry requires as much continuous training as commercial nuclear power generation. Training is needed to ensure safe, reliable operations for the generation of life-essential electricity.

All nuclear teammates go through training for initial qualifications based on their job function and must maintain proficiency in skills. We also train and practice for emergency operations. It is not unusual for personnel to train on something related to emergency response and operations on a weekly basis. Scenario-based training helps operators develop competence and experience to handle any emergency imaginable.


Training is especially important for our reactor operators licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Besides regular classroom training, each nuclear site maintains a control room simulator, which is an exact replica of the actual control room. Instructors use a computerized system to mimic scenarios and operators practice responding. The simulator is a test of operator technical skill and team effectiveness. Following the scenario, the team engages in a critique where they assess performance and define subsequent training opportunities.

But this isn’t an annual process. Operators engage in technical and scenario-based training one week out of every five, or about 10 weeks every year. As a comparison, consider the training requirements for other licensed professions. The field that requires the most formal education is medical. To get a medical license to practice, you would need a four-year college degree, followed by four years of medical school. Doctors also typically have 3-7 years of practicum experience required. Once past that, doctors usually are required to get a minimum of 20 hours a year of continuing education.

A reactor operator does not necessarily require a four-year degree, however most have either a four-year degree or a military background. Some operators have served years on a US Navy submarine or other nuclear power field before they work at a commercial power plant. Once at the plant, the operator must complete 18-24 months of formal training on the specific plant they will be licensed for. Once licensed, there is no profession that invests as much time in continuing education. Licensed operators must average 160 hours per year over the two-year license period. In practice, however, the training program for licensed operators is much more robust than the minimum 160 hours. Typically, an operator spends every fifth week in training.

Here is a comparison of various professions:


Medical Doctor

Legal - Attorney


Air Transport Pilot


Reactor Operator

Typical Formal Education

Undergraduate plus 4 years Med school

Undergraduate plus 3 years Law school

Undergraduate plus 4 years Vet school

1500 hrs or Undergraduate or military

Undergraduate plus 2 years

Undergraduate or Military

Continuing Ed in North Carolina







Continuing Ed in South Carolina








Why so much training?

Operators are accountable to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as the licensing agency so training is tailored to meet the mandated regulated requirements. In addition, the nuclear industry makes heavy use of learning from operating experience. Operators learn their specific plant, but also learn about other plants across the industry, especially regarding any significant events. For example, after the earthquake and tsunami hit the plant at Fukushima Daiichi, we incorporated new equipment, procedures and training at our plants. Finally, training includes human performance and teamwork. Operators always work in teams, and so part of their training is about how to better perform as a team member and to help other teammates.

Learn more.


Continuing education requirements vary considerably. Our comparison uses the following sources and converts all to a standard 12-month period.


  • Federation of State Medical Board (Nov. 19, 2019) indicates that the standard in North Carolina is 60 hours every three years and 40 hours every two years in South Carolina.


  • The American Bar Association reports a requirement of 12 hours in NC and 14 hours in SC.


  • NC Veterinary Medical Board indicates a requirement of 20 hours per year.
  • SC Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has a requirement of 30 hours every two years.

Air Transport Pilot (Airline)

  • The FAA requires 1,500 hours of flight time or less time with a college degree or military experience for the initial license.
  • Continuing training varies by aircraft type and airline. Generally, it is about 60 hours per year.


  • NC State Board of Education requires 80 hours every five years.
  • SC State Board of Education requires 120 hours every five years.

Comments (1)

Posted October 12, 2020 by Thomas morris martin
I would love the opportunity to be apart of the team! I would absolutely love it.

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