Navy Commissioned Officer Job Description - NR

Naval Reactors Engineer

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

All Engineers selected for NR assignment are at the top notch students in their technical engineering fields. This makes the community of 300+ engineers a workforce that is powered by some of the best and brightest technical experts in the country. These Nuclear Officers are Naval Reactors Engineers and assume responsibility for reactors throughout the Department of the Navy and Energy:

These Nuclear Engineers are responsible for the operation, training of personnel, and maintenance, quality assurance of the following facilities:

• Department of Energy laboratories (two)

• Nuclear prototype/training sites (two)

• Nearly 100 nuclear-powered ships and submarines

• Six shipyards

• More than 1,000 government contracting firms that support the Naval Reactors program

Typical jobs for the Naval Reactors Engineer are inspections, designing of reactors, refueling procedures for ships, submarines, and facilities, and even decommissioning and dealing with nuclear waste. The responsibilities are enormous even for the young junior officer. 

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. "B" or better in all technical courses and a competitive 3.3+ GPA

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.

Service Obligation

5 yrs from OIS graduation.
- Total of 8 yrs Active & Inactive.
- Commissioned as ENS prior to reporting to OIS.

Program Description

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.

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.

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.