Students in N3B boot camps receive training in the field in addition to classroom instruction. Photo Courtesy N3B
A total of 22 students in the Radiological Control Technician (RCT) boot camp doubles last year’s enrollment marking continued success in a partnership between N3B Los Alamos and the University of New Mexico – Los Alamos (UNM-LA). The workforce development program supports N3B’s role in the U.S. Department of Energy’s environmental cleanup mission (DOE) at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
The boot camp programs were launched in early 2019 with a dual objective to provide additional local employment opportunities and fill the need for trained employees at N3B, which works to remediate and remove legacy radioactive and hazardous waste around LANL
The 22 students are assured full-time positions at N3B upon completion of the boot camp, unlike more traditional programs where students commence job hunting after completion of programs. The boot camp students registered in February and will complete the 16- to 17-week program in mid-May.
N3B Central Training Officer Mark Russell, who was hired to design and build training programs in May 2018, said the Radiological Control Technician (RCT) Boot Camp was offered this year to fill current job openings. N3B also offers a Nuclear Processing Operator (NPO) Boot Camp when needed.
“Boot camps are the way to go because they target specific needs,” Russell said. “They are the most efficient way to provide a compressed program to answer job force needs in the most rapid, consolidated fashion.”
Students in the boot camp receive 10 college credits, paid for by N3B, after completing about 12 to 16weeks of classroom instruction at the UNM-LA campus, along with field training at various N3B cleanup sites. They also receive paid compensation during the program and agree to work for N3B for one year.
Additionally, they receive on-the-job training at Technical Area 54, where N3B manages and prepares for shipment LANL’s legacy radioactive and hazardous waste. A sign-on bonus to stay with N3B for at least two years is a new option.
Russell said N3B’s competitive salaries and full benefits often provide upward mobility for anyone who completes the boot camps. He said some enrollees are college-aged, while others have workforce experience but want to change fields or upskill.
He said the boot camp certifications and N3B experience translate to jobs in other parts of the country, so the need for new hires continues to fuel the boot camps.
The current class serves local communities with four students from Los Alamos; three each from Española, Santa Fe and White Rock; and one each from Anthony, Chimayo, Cordova, El Rito, Las Cruces, Ohkay Owingeh, Peñasco and Rio Rancho. An out-of-state student is from Longview, Washington.
The application window for the next round of boot camp opportunities will open in the coming weeks. The posting will be on the N3B website under careers, followed by N3B jobs.
Radiological Control Technicians (RCTs) monitor work environments for radioactive materials, control radioactive materials appropriately, handle emergency responses and perform procedures as needed. Nuclear Processing Operators (NPOs) assist in critical environmental cleanup as they handle, package, treat and document radioactive waste.
N3B’s workforce development program also offers an applied associates of science in nuclear operations technology and has attracted boot camp graduates who want to earn degrees. That program was launched in May 2021 in partnership with Northern New Mexico College.
N3B is an HII Nuclear-led company with BWX Technologies, with critical subcontractors Longenecker & Associates and Tech2 Solutions. N3B implements the $1.4 billion, 10-year Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Contract for the DOE’s Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office.