As the world has advanced with marvelous technologies to cure deadly ailments like cancer and tumors, it has also increased the risk of exposing itself to hazardous wastes generated at every such step. India has also taken a step forward in improving its medical imaging applications.
The nation quickly needs to replace the aging workforce with fresh and responsible graduates to deal better with nuclear waste management. It was estimated some time back that crores of investment would take place in the country giving rise to more than 25 million jobs by the year 2020. At this hour, with ever-increasing energy demand, the nation is in great need of nuclear physicists who can aid in the nation-building work and take a step forward.
The field of Nuclear Physics
Nuclear Physics is a specialized field of Physics understanding the behavior of matter at an atomic level comprising of neutrons and protons and their subsequent fusion, fission involving a vast amount of energy. Like most other nations, even India wishes to make itself self-dependent in terms of energy, defense, and medical technological advancements. It is thus in requirement of a huge workforce comprising of capable scientists who can handle technology and plan nuclear waste management in a judicious way.
The impending threat of global warming is and will make the nation think and explore alternative energy solutions to grow independent and self-sustainable. This industry as pointed out by many can grow all by itself thus opening great vistas of growth and at the same time, its growth is not dependent on the growth of other industries.
Plan your stride accordingly
Nuclear energy can be utilized for the benefit of mankind in many ways. Before plunging into this wing of Physics, it is advisable to know about its applications such as in medicine, power production, space technology, food irradiation, instrumentation, archaeology and some more.
Nuclear Physics can be studied with subjects like Physics, Chemistry, as mandatory subjects in 10+2 level with Mathematics/ Biology depending upon the course in Nuclear Physics study, one wish to go for.
There are a number of colleges, universities, and institutes that offer B.Sc., M.Sc, Ph.D. programs, and many colleges have incorporated this branch in their curriculum as an engineering discipline, and can be pursued further as M.Tech and doctoral programs. Usually, the cut off marks required are very high since the stream of Nuclear Physics relies heavily on the cream students of the badges.
B. Tech courses in Nuclear Physics usually range between Rs. 5,00,000-6,00,000. Tech programs are a little less priced, starting from Rs. 50,000-2,00,000. However, you are required to sit for GATE exams and even clear admission tests in some of the colleges before getting into any stream pertaining to Nuclear Physics.
A nuclear Physicist in India earns a handsome amount. Their salary package ranges from Rs. 25,00,000-40,00,000 per annum. One can also work in the institutes offering the courses as lecturers and professors; however, the salary would not be at par with the salary of a professional.
Initially, as professionals, they may not get to start as high as mentioned while working as fellow scholars with notable nuclear scientists, but after a few years, it is bound to shoot up. A Nuclear Engineer in the USA can earn up to a median salary of $65,100 and mid-career average can shoot up to a figure of $97800. The U.S. figures for salary in Nuclear Physics are almost at par with other engineering streams. The figures are expected to rise considering the sensitive nature of the job and a dwindling number of people entering the job.
Some of the organizations in India where one can pursue a lucrative career in Nuclear Physics are listed below:
- Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO)
- Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
- Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)
- Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics
- Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)
- Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)
- Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD)
- Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL)
- Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC)
- Variable Energy Cyclottron Centre (VECC)
- Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL)
- Institute of Physics
This field of Physics has bright prospects in the international job market as well. International bodies like the World Association of Nuclear Operators, International Atomic Energy Agency and CEA France are some of the notable bodies working in this division.
The salaries for the career options in Nuclear Physics are really high. But it comes with a price; the best of students are selected with excellent academic track record. Not only they need to work hard while pursuing their studies, but even after embarking on a high salaried career, life will be different and never a bed of roses in terms of the effort that has to go into the job on a daily basis.
For the past four years (2009-2013) almost 11 Nuclear Scientists have died unnatural deaths in India. Investigation files are open in certain cases while others have been closed citing reasons like an accident in the reactors and so on. India needs to gear up the safety guidelines and employ capable and responsible people for these jobs. With India trying to grow energy independent in a cleaner way, there would be a requirement of highly skilled people with in-depth knowledge in Nuclear Physics.
Institutes offering the courses in Nuclear Physics
- Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Course: Doctoral grade in Nuclear Engineering and Technology
- Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore Course: Research programs in a particle collision, and high energy collisions
- Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics Course: Research in Atomic and Nuclear Physics
- Department of Mechanical Engineering, SRM University Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, Course: Nuclear Engineering
- Department of Physics, Sambalpur University Course: Doctor of Philosophy in Nuclear Physics & Electronics
- Centre for Nuclear Medicine, Panjab University Course: Master of Science (Nuclear Medicine)
With protest which did rounds against the start of the Kudankulam plant, one can definitely wonder the fate of Nuclear Physics in this country. But judging by the current scenario and mammoth requirement of power supply, the energy mix is the only path to sustainability for a greener and cleaner future. Just hydel, wind, tidal and solar can’t contribute to making India grow energy independent, Nuclear energy has to be exploited to meet the rising demands and for improving various other related fields in terms of better technology.