November 4, 2020
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Health Psysics Society
Eric Goldin: The key skills needed by young graduates in the radiation protection field fall into two categories: science education and communication. An individual needs a solid foundation in the sciences in order to properly assess radiation conditions, use the instrumentation, and draw conclusions. One of the great attractions to the radiation protection field is that it draws from many areas of science - physics, chemistry, biology, applied mathematics. In some careers, geology, microbiology, oceanography, and even astronomy can be important.
Secondly, communication skills are very important to explain conditions to clients - whether they're physicians in a hospital, welders in a nuclear plant, or members of the public near a facility using radioactive materials. Those communication skills are also important when writing procedures and documenting findings.
Eric Goldin: Another great attraction to a career in radiation protection is that the job market is very diverse and there are positions just about anywhere someone would want to work. Obviously there are hospitals and clinics everywhere so a radiation protection graduate may be able to locate in any part of the country where there is a hospital or clinic in need of a radiation protection tech. That could be in a rural setting or right in the middle of a big city. There are Department of Energy labs in many locations in the country as well. Nuclear plants are scattered around the country, many in the mid-west, southeast, and mid-Atlantic states.
Eric Goldin: Technology has greatly advanced in the radiation protection field in the past couple of decades. Hand-held survey instruments are now "smart" and can record data or operate remotely, sending information to computer databases. The surveys themselves, that used to be recorded by hand, are now entered electronically onto digital images that are used to describe the areas. In the next few years, even greater advances in web-based data recording, remote monitoring, and robotic activities will be common. New types of instruments and radiation measuring devices (dosimeters) are being developed all the time.
The radiation protection field, although a small community, serves a very important purpose in society because radiation and radioactive materials are used in so many areas and fields. Our Health Physics Society tracks job openings and, in recent months, there have been an average of about 70 job postings per month, with many from private industry, national laboratories, federal and state government agencies, universities, and medical institutions. Many job postings keep reappearing on our list because the positions are not being filled by qualified applicants. The job market these days is quite good and the future is bright.