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Kaldanis

Nuclear Engineering Work in China

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Kaldanis

Hi, I’m hoping someone can give me some information/advice. I’m from the U.K. and I’m in a long term relationship with a Chinese girl I met here. Our plan is for both of us to go back to China once we graduate. When that happens, I’ll have a BSc in Physics (with Nuclear Engineering) and about 3 years of learning Mandarin. Are there many opportunities for someone like me to find non-English teaching employment in China?

Ideally I would like to go on to do a Master’s in some kind of Nuclear Engineering related field. It would be even better if I could do that at a Chinese university. My goal would be to land a job in the nuclear industry in China, but my girlfriend has told me that they would never hire a foreigner to work for the government like that. I’m not sure if this is true but it’s a concern for me.

Will I be doomed to a life of teaching English to children? Is it difficult for foreigners to find science/engineering related employment?

Thanks for any help!

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kdavid

I believe that the question you need to ask yourself in China, as in many, many countries, is: What can I offer an employer that a local cannot?

I'm not familiar at all with your engineering field, but I surmise that there are quite a few Chinese locals who could do those jobs absolutely fluent in the local terminology for a fraction of the cost of a foreigner.

Your best bet would be to look into a joint Sino-foreign venture which assigns its employees to China. Though I'd think that would require significant work experience.

There's nothing wrong with teaching English as a means to an end; e.g. learning Mandarin, supporting your language or other studies, using the free time to work on other projects, etc., but it shouldn't be an end in itself.

If you really have no other choice, take your job very seriously and choose an employer with a defined career path, like Disney English. There's A LOT of room for growth with them.

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roddy

By far and away the best idea in career terms would be to get a couple of years work experience outside of China. As a new graduate you could struggle even to get a decent English teaching job. If you go to China now there's a very real chance you'll end up teaching English and fall off the career ladder.

As far as work in your field goes - look at the big name companies. Westinghouse do a lot in China. Mitsubishi also I think. Get in touch and ask for advice - fantastic though this forum is, I don't believe we have anyone in the nuclear sector. Apart from yourself.

If you do end up going the English teaching route, try and use your degree - teach English for engineers, technical writing, etc.

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Kaldanis

Thanks for the replies. That's true, I can't think of why someone would hire me over a Chinese worker if they posess the same skill set. If I could live comfortably while teaching English then I'd be happy to do that while I search for career opportunities. I wouldn't like to teach English for the rest of my life, though.

As for lacking experience, prior to starting my degree I spent 4 years providing desktop/network support for an engineering company. I know that isn't related to what I'm studying but at least it's some kind of work experience.

Would studying a Masters in China increase my chances of finding employment at all? More contacts, etc?

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amandagmu

I am just going to rally behind what kdavid and Roddy have already essentially suggested: it would far more in your interest to gain experience and/or land a position (even an internship) with an international company that does work in China. This is the route to go. If you just show up in China and start looking for jobs, you won't likely be able to compete with locals. However, many big-name companies are looking for skilled, young, native English speakers willing to live, or at least intern (usually paid), in China for a while. The key is finding these companies and programs. Some of them recruit through career fairs or directly at universities. Others use various websites (do some google searching to find them). Alternatively, if you know some big name companies in your field, browse their websites for internship and trainee programs, where they have branches, and search for any junior positions they might have available in China. You may not find one directly in the field of nuclear engineering, but you'll probably find junior positions with qualifications you meet.

Good luck!

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roddy

Will a Masters improve your chances? Presumably. But nobody here is going to know if that'll be an increase from 1% to 2%, or 10% to 70% or what. If you're serious about work in the nuclear industry, get in touch with the overseas firms working in China and ask what the opportunities are.

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heifeng
Get in touch and ask for advice - fantastic though this forum is, I don't believe we have anyone in the nuclear sector. Apart from yourself

Hey there was this (experienced) person a few years ago...not like we know how that turned out though (I think)

http://www.chinese-f...r-in-guangdong/

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rob07
My goal would be to land a job in the nuclear industry in China, but my girlfriend has told me that they would never hire a foreigner to work for the government like that.

May not be impossible, this guy apparently got a near offer from Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, a state owned enterprise, but pulled out when they weren't offering enough money. Guangdong Nuclear Power is interested in doing M&A outside of China so they may be more interested in English speakers. But everything else said about the difficulties is true.

Edit: Heifeng beat me to it.

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gato

jbradford, who posted in that thread, is/was a nuclear engineering (he mentioned it at the time of the Fukashima crisis). Unfortunately, he hasn't posted lately.

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Kaldanis

Again, thank you for the replies. I read the other thread and even if he was discouraged by the salary, it makes me feel like it's at least possible to do it. Salary doesn't bother me too much as long as I don't find myself running out of money or being too afraid to eat out because I don't get paid for another week. I'm going to talk with some professors at university who know a lot more about the industry than I do, maybe they can give me the names of some companies. I agree that the best thing to do is get in touch with the firms and ask them about opportunities, so I'll do that.

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ChTTay

You could also comsider looking at a technical sales job. Someone must sell a lot of equipment used in the nuclear sector and someone probably sells it to China somewhere along the line( and all the other countries across the world). Any engineering sales might be worth a look at.

Just another avenue to consider but its's likely one that you'd have pursue in your home country. in my old job (prior to teaching English in China haha) a colleague had had enough of always moving around and commuting (aricraft engineer) so moved into sales. We sold equipment used to maintain aircraft, essentially.

Good luck, make sure to feedback.

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WestTexas

You could also try to get a job teaching physics or maths at an international school. These jobs pay much more than the standard English teaching jobs. You would need to get more teaching credentials but I don't think it's out of reach.

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roddy

Edited the title so there's a better chance of someone knowledgeable looking in.

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MarsBlackman

Your goal is to land a job in the nuclear industry in China. What part of the nuclear industry? It sounds like you're still in school and with a physics degree, concentrating in nuclear engineering, I'm assuming you're more on the theoretical side. Are you looking to be more involved on the plant design, nuclear fuel, or just the nuclear field in general? Your main two options for foreign companies are Westinghouse and Areva. Even so, they rarely, if ever, send new hires straight to China without a couple years of experience/training at home first. The Wikipedia page sums up the nuclear picture in China quite nicely. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_China

It is important to note, the man mentioned above had over a decade of experience in a technical discipline. Working for a state-owned company as a foreigner is possible (as seen above), but working for any of the nuclear regulatory agencies in China is virtually impossible. Also, I'm not sure about your Chinese, especially at a technical level (companies like Westinghouse and Areva often use interpreters). Doing a master's in China would certainly help your Chinese but a foreign degree might carry more weight. Its hard to tell which is more beneficial and it depends on your goals.

If I were you, I would figure out if your first priority is to work in the nuclear industry or live in China. That's probably the most important question to answer at this point. Obviously, both would be great. However, which of the two would you pick today to reach tomorrow's long term goal of both? Do you see yourself working for a nuclear company outside of China to gain experience and transition to China, or pursuing some of the quality suggestions already mentioned to live and work in China while working on other endeavors?

I work for a US company in China with a state-owned company supplying nuclear components for plants in China. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to be young and working in China, but I did have work experience with my company before I graduated and again for a few more months before coming to China. This forum is great for advice and stimulating ideas so continue to ask questions. If you have more industry specific questions, feel free to send me a message.

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imron

Or ask the questions here so that future readers looking to enter the Chinese nuclear engineering field can also benefit from the discussion.

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roddy

We might start a craze.

I'm just going to assume we DO have experts in every field from now on.

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YuehanHao

Although I think M.B. completely nailed it, I felt like adding on a bit out of my own interest.

My strategy would also be employment outside China first. I would further complete the Master's degree prior to moving. Aside from the prestige factor, I would seek to enter a nuclear graduate program that is as challenging as possible based on its own merits. To insert a language barrier could detract substantially from the primary objective. However, the alternative could be dictated by other of life's priorities and may not be infeasible to a student with sufficient preparation and motivation.

One would have to consider China the world's hot spot for nuclear power engineering these days. As the latest 'nuclear renaissance' has flopped in the U.S. (e.g., Westinghouse announced more layoffs last week), as costs and construction times escalate in Europe, as several established powers attempt to cut back or even pull the plug on nuclear and other smaller nations with little infrastructure struggle to gain a foothold, with the full support of a pro-nuclear government, China keeps turning out these plants like clockwork (presumably they are being built with adequate quality assurance, and it is merely Western ineptitude at pouring concrete and such or overly cautious regulators that have set us back). While China has scaled back its domestic nuclear development plan for the next 10-15 years, it is still extremely ambitious. Furthermore, China has already exported its own nuclear power technology abroad, and was even recently part of a bid to build in the U.K. Such efforts will undoubtedly continue and have reasonable prospects of success.

Yet more formidable than the task of constructing all these new plants is educating and training the workforce that will operate, engineer, and maintain them. Attending a workshop at RINPO in Wuhan in 2008 was quite a contrast with similar events in my country. Whereas our typical demographic is mainly middle-aged to ..., that workshop in Wuhan was quite tilted toward fresh-faced graduates. While observing this youth was invigorating, it was not without producing a tinge of anxiety, envisioning these young hands operating controls, performing safety reviews, etc., and thinking of all the lessons they will have to learn.

With all that said, I think China will continue to be an excellent place for a nuclear engineer with suitable education, experience, and language skills (a few Chinese colleagues have received more lucrative offers to return) -- and possibly even another recent grad (even if non-Chinese).

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MarsBlackman

imron: You're absolutely right.

Feel free to ask any questions here.

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Kaldanis
Your goal is to land a job in the nuclear industry in China. What part of the nuclear industry? It sounds like you're still in school and with a physics degree, concentrating in nuclear engineering, I'm assuming you're more on the theoretical side. Are you looking to be more involved on the plant design, nuclear fuel, or just the nuclear field in general?

You're right, I'm still studying a physics degree while picking up all the nuclear engineering/theory classes that I can. I can't give you an answer yet as for which nuclear field interests me the most. I'm still in the middle of my degree. So far I'm finding plant/reactor design enjoyable. I also like the fuel management, but I'm sure that other areas will interest me as I study them. I know this doesn't help narrow things down but I'm still interested in finding out my possible future career options if I want to move to China.

If I were you, I would figure out if your first priority is to work in the nuclear industry or live in China. Do you see yourself working for a nuclear company outside of China to gain experience and transition to China, or pursuing some of the quality suggestions already mentioned to live and work in China while working on other endeavors?

That's such a difficult question to answer. I do plan on being with my girlfriend in China and I love learning the language. I'm going there for about 2 months in the summer to travel around, but who knows, I may end up hating China! I doubt that, though. Right now I want to believe I'd be happy living there doing almost any job, as long as I'm not struggling to afford to feed myself. On the other hand I don't think I could teach English for the rest of my life. So maybe China is more important to me, but if I can do both then I'd like to give myself the best opportunity of making it happen.

My strategy would also be employment outside China first. I would further complete the Master's degree prior to moving. Aside from the prestige factor, I would seek to enter a nuclear graduate program that is as challenging as possible based on its own merits. To insert a language barrier could detract substantially from the primary objective.

I think you're right. I have found some English-taught master degrees in nuclear engineering in various Chinese universities (such as Harbin), but I have no idea what the standard would be like. There are some very good programmes here in the U.K. and mainland Europe. I don't know how the Chinese degrees compare would to those. I feel like studying it in China would greatly improve my Chinese while allowing me to make contacts/search for jobs. It's hard to decide.

I want to post this here incase anyone else from Europe is in my position. EDF energy offers graduate training in many nuclear related fields and they do have a presence in China/Asia. I think gaining experience from something like this would give me the best chances of achieving my goals. It's also an opportunity to go for experience in the field rather than a masters degree. http://careers.edfen...uate-programmes

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