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Nuclear Scientist
The field in which nuclear scientists work covers a broad range of activities, from designing and monitoring nuclear power plants to developing medicines and equipment.

The work is seldom routine and calls for a high degree of original thought. It is also highly complex, entailing the use of very sophisticated electronic equipment and computer-controlled systems.

The work of nuclear scientists includes basic and applied research in nuclear physics and chemistry, radiation physics and biophysics, medical physics, health physics and nuclear energy.

They work with the production of radioactive isotopes (radioisotopes) by means of nuclear reactors or large accelerators. It is the responsibility of nuclear scientists to determine the most suitable nuclear reaction with the minimum amount of unwanted radioactivity.

Radioisotopes can be used in:

- diagnostic nuclear medicine
- treatment of cancer
- sterilisation of medical equipment
- tracing the movement of air, tides, sea currents and sand, which can be used in industry to control aspects such as the release of industrial gases into the atmosphere
- the extension of the shelf-life of fresh products

Nuclear scientists are also involved in the purification of irradiated material; development of techniques to analyze samples that are of industrial, mining, geological or archaeological interest; and the observation, measurement and control of radioactivity and radiation.

Satisfying Aspects
- making discoveries can be exciting
- improving people's daily lives
- being able to share your findings with millions of people

Demanding aspects
- working long hours
- hard work, because you can be on your feet for long periods
- focusing all day long can cause eyestrain

A nuclear scientist should:
- have good aptitude for Mathematics and Physical Science;
- have above-average intelligence;
- think abstractly and originally;
- be responsible;
- have practical insight and skills;
- be versatile.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: None

Degree: BSc degree majoring in Physics and Chemistry or Physics and Mathematics.

Post-graduate study: BSc Honours degree specializing in Physics, Chemistry or other relevant fields. An MSc or PhD is recommended, especially for a career in research - e.g. Wits, NWU, UNISA, UJ, NMMU, UZ.

- Universities
- Large hospitals
- Directorate for Radiation Safety of the Department of Health
- Eskom
- The National Accelerator Centre

Positions in this field are not plentiful and competition is fierce. Those that are better qualified stand a better chance.

Any of the above mentioned potential employers

The SA Institute of Physics
Postnet Suite 165
Private Bag X025
Lynnwood Ridge, 0040
Tel: (012) 843-6561 Fax: 086 648 8474