How Much Money Do Navy Nukes Make After the Navy?

I put together a Navy Nuke Salary Survey for 2014. I will be updating this post regularly so that you can see how you stack up against other Navy Nukes. Are you behind the curve or ahead of the curve?

2014 Navy Nuke Salary Survey

The survey consisted of a few questions designed to reveal how Navy Nukes stack up against each other in terms of salary. Here are the questions:

  1. How much money do you make per year?
  2. How long have you been at your current job?
  3. What industry do you work in?
  4. What did you do in the Military?
  5. How long were you in the Military?
  6. Highest rank achieved?
  7. Engineering Watch Supervisor qualified?
  8. Active Duty / Active Reserves / Veteran?
  9. Surface or Subsurface?

Between February 2, 2014 and February 5, 2014, 500 people took the survey.  You can see a general overview of the survey responses by clicking here. That general overview does not reveal very much. Google provides me with a spread sheet containing all of the responses. I have used that spread sheet to dive further into the responses and come up with some interesting data points.

If you want a copy of this spread sheet to perform your own analysis of the survey, then click here to join the NavyNukeJobFinder Newsletter. Look for your copy of the survey response attached as an excel spreadsheet to your “welcome to the newsletter” email.

I analyzed 471 responses (I started the analysis before I closed the survey). Of the 471 responses, 2 of those were former enlisted non-nukes, 104 were still active duty Navy, and 365 were Veterans of the Nuclear Power Program (Officer/EM/ET/MM/ELT).

It took me about 12 hours to compile the data and make the analysis that I ended up making. Because of time constraints, the analysis that follows only pertains to the 365 Veterans of the Nuke Program who participated in the survey. If you want to see the data on the people who are still active duty or the two non-nuke participants, then join the Newsletter and download the spreadsheet that is attached to the welcome email.

I took some “lessons learned” from the way I conducted the survey this year. Because of the way I formulated the answer choices, I was not able to form true averages in my analysis of the results. Next year’s survey will be MUCH IMPROVED and provide much better information.

I invite you to leave your own suggestions in the comment section as to how this survey can be improved and what changes you would like to see next February when the next survey comes out. Let’s take a look at the responses.

Six & Out Navy Nuke Veterans

There were 161 Nukes who left the Nav after 6 years. I wanted to separate these Nukes out because a lot of people email me asking if they should get out at the 6 year point and if staying in longer has any bearing on how much money they will make as a civilian.

Let’s talk about mean, median, and mode for a second. Next year I will enable you to type in your actual salary to the nearest dollar, that way I will be able to tell you the average salary (mean salary). Unfortunately, I only let you choose a range of salary this year, and therefore, I can only give you a mode of salary, i.e., which salary occurs most often. While mode is not a “true” average, it is the closest thing I could get to this year, so please bear with me.

I suggest you join the newsletter and get your hands on the excel spreadsheet if you want to do further analysis.

Of the 161 six and out Nuke vets, 16.7% of them made $100,001 – $120,000. That was the mode (most often occurring salary) among six and out Nukes.

42.2% of the six and out Nukes made over $100,000 per year.

3.7% of the six and out Nukes made over $200,000 per year.

Six & Out Nukes with < 2 Years at Current Job

There were 43 Nukes who left the Navy after 6 years and have spent less than 2 years at their current job. Now, for all I know, these Nukes could have 10 or more years of civilian working experience, and just started a new job recently, or they could be working at their first job after the Navy. That’s just a lesson learned that I will have to implement into next year’s survey. For what it’s worth, here’s the data.

The mode salary for these guys was much lower, 21% of them made $50,001 – $60,000.

23.3% of the 6 & out < 2 year crew made over $100,000 per year. None of these guys made more than $200,000 per year.

You will of course draw your own conclusions from these figures. They are vague, but give me a great starting point for how to make next year’s survey better. If we assume that most of these 6 & out Nukes do not have a college degree (I did not ask), then I think it is a safe assumption that a 6 & Out Nuke is going to make more money at a first job then the average college student. I don’t believe that 23.3% of college graduates (B.S. / B.A. Degree) are making over $100,000 in less than 2 years at their first job…I could be wrong. Those numbers may be closer if you say Engineering college graduates vs. all college graduates.

In any case, next year I need to ask how many years you have been out of the Navy and what level of education you have achieved outside of program.

Engineering Watch Supervisor Nukes

There is a great difference in mode between the 6 & out Nuke and the EWS Nukes. This is to be expected.

Mode: 18.8% of the EWS Nuke Vets made $130,001 – $150,000.

65.3% of the EWS Nuke Vets made over $100,000 per year.

7.9% of the EWS Nuke Vets made over $200,000/yr.

Compare those numbers with the two group of 6 & Out Nukes analyzed above, and it appears that EWS qualified Nukes make more money than non-EWS Nukes. A little disclaimer is in order, and I have to tell you that I did not actually go and analyze all of the non-EWS Nukes vs. EWS Nukes (because I didn’t have time), however, in this case I am simply assuming that most of the 6 & Out Nukes did not qualify EWS.

I know Nukes…man do I know Nukes, and I know that at least 25% of you reading this post are saying, “heeeeeyyyy I qualified EWS in 6 years.” Good for you. Why don’t you download the spreadsheet, do the analysis, email it to me, and I’ll see about posting it here. Otherwise, changes to next year’s survey will make this analysis faster and easier.

So for those of you who email me (example below) to ask, “Should I qualify EWS before separating,” I hope this survey provides some insight into that question.


$ix Figure Navy Nuke$

There were 177 Navy Nukes (Officer Veterans + Enlisted Veterans) who made more than $100,000 (48.5% of all Veterans surveyed). Is this good? Is it average? I don’t know. How would that percentage stack up against conventional ETs or Air Force IT specialists? I don’t know…but I’d like to know.

Mode for time at current job: 27.7% of the Six Figure Nuke Vets have been at their current job for 5-10 years.

Officer Nukes and Non-Nuke Veterans

Unfortunately only 7 Officer Nuke Vets participated. It’s too small of a sample size to make any meaningful conclusion. The salary data looked like this:

  1. $70k – $80k
  2. $80k – $90k
  3. $90k – $100k
  4. $100k – $120k
  5. $120k – $130k
  6. $130k – $150k
  7. >$200k

That is all 7 Nuke Officer Vet salary ranges, and it seems to be slightly better (on the lower salary end) than the enlisted Nuke Vets. There were several $30k – $50k, $50k – $60k, and $60k – $70k enlisted Nuke Vets, but zero of the 7 Officer vets surveyed made less than $70k/yr. I think it’s a safe conclusion, even when you take into account the smaller sample size, that the Officers do slightly better on the low end than the enlisted Nukes. On the high end, the sky seems to be the limit for both Officer and Enlisted.

EM vs. ET vs. MM vs. ELT

There seems to be a general consensus amongst the Nuke “Illuminati” that ET Nukes stand head and shoulder above the rest of the Navy Nuclear Power World (that includes Officers).

I don’t know how this tradition became official Navy doctrine, but I was unable to disprove it with this survey. Mainly because 1) my sample sizes were too small, and 2) I didn’t allow you to type in your actual salary vs. choosing a salary range. Next year will be better. Let’s Look at the Modes.

  1. 17.4% of the 109 Nuke EM Vets surveyed made $100,001 – $120,000.
  2. 17.2% of the 93 Nuke ET Vets surveyed made $100,001 – $120,000, but another 17.2% of the 93 ETs surveyed made $130,001 – $150,000 (what do you do when there are 2 modes? create a better survey next year).
  3. 15.6% of the 109 MM Nuke Vets surveyed made $80,001 – $90,000, but another 15.6% of the 109 MMs surveyed made $90,001 – $100,000 (again 2 modes).
  4. 21.3% of the 47 Nuke ELT Vets surveyed made $100,001 – $120,000.

I wish I could have had actual dollar amounts to analyze here. It would have been so much easier to just add up the salaries, then divide by the number of salaries to get an average for each group. But how do you add up salary ranges? $100,000 – $120,000 can be anywhere within that range. It definitely is a flaw that I agonized over when tabulating the results.

When I made the survey…I didn’t think any of you would actually take it. Instead, I had more than 200 responses within the first 2 hours of posting. How stupid was I in thinking that Nukes wouldn’t want to see who made the most money?

Here are the conclusions I made from the results above.

1) It seems that ET Nukes make a little more money after the Navy than the rest of the enlisted crew. My suspicion is that this might be because more ETs go into Civilian Nuclear Power than non-ETs. I could be wrong and if you want to download the spreadsheet and analyze the data by career field, it can be done. I just grew tired of playing with the spreadsheets after about 12 hours.

2) It seems that MMs make a little less money on the outside than the other Nukes. The survey showed that 60.1% of MMs are making less than $100k. Compare that to only 40.4% of ELTs who make less than $100k, or only 44.1% of ETs who make less than $100k, or 54.1% of EMs who make less than $100k.



3) It’s possible that a larger sample size would show that ELTs actually make the most money post-nav. Consider that 8.5% of ELTs made >$200k per year, while only 1.1% of ETs, 3.7% of MMs, and 5.5% of EMs made >$200k/yr.

NavyNukeJobFinder Salary Survey Final Thoughts

The spreadsheet version also has info and results from the several active duty Nukes who took the survey. One thing is for sure, Nukes seem to make a heck of a lot more money on the outside.

Full disclosure, I’m an ET and everything I said regarding ETs being the greatest was in good fun. Truthfully, I’ve always had ELT envy.

I really don’t have much to say about the survey other than the conclusions I have already expressed above. I would love to hear your thoughts on it in the comment section below.

I hope this survey encourages someone to chill the heck out because some day it really will “all be worth it.”

How to See the Results of the Nuke Salary Survey

I will send an excel spreadsheet attached to the welcome email of the Navy Nuke Job Finder Newsletter Mailing List. If you want access to this freaking awesome piece of info, then you need to join the Navy Nuke Job Finder Newsletter and stand by for your spreadsheet. If you just want to take a look at the (non-spreadsheet / not so useful pie chart) raw data, then all you have to do is…click here to see the results of the Navy Nuke Job Finder Salary Survey.

Make sure you don’t miss next year’s survey by either…

Liking the NavyNukeJobFinder Facebook Page,

Joining the Navy Nuke Job Finder Facebook Group,

or Joining my mailing list to get the latest Navy Nuke info, updates, and career tips.

Before You Bail…

1) Scroll down to Share this post on Facebook, G+, or Twitter

2) Click Here to Join the Navy Nuke Job Finder Newsletter for so that you can see the results of the survey in spreadsheet form. 

Author: navynukejobfinder

I did six years as a surface nuke ET. Then college, then grad school. Now I moderate this forum. Gooooooo navy!