SCE&G is not alone in looking for new employees for nuclear facilities. The Nuclear Energy Institute estimates that 39 percent of the nuclear workforce will hit retirement age by 2018, meaning the industry will have to hire 20,000 new workers over the next four years to replace the retirees.
More recently, that hiring has not shown up in jobs statistics. In the May jobs report out Friday, in which 217,000 jobs were created with the unemployment rate at 6.3 percent, the workforce at utilities remained essentially flat at 550,000 from April.
"We'll be looking for folks with a background in physics, engineers, maintenance workers, mechanical instrument and control technicians, electricians and also chemists," said Archie. He said 450 of the planned 800 staffers for the two new reactors have already been hired even though the first won't be online until late 2017 or early 2018.
"We were going to be doing a lot of training and instructing so we hired instructors first," said Archie, a 36-year veteran of the utility.
Once the instructors were certified on the new technology, the company brought in operators, he said. The operators are undergoing training now on a simulator that mimics the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors that SCE&G is installing. The utility is also bringing in engineers and maintenance workers.
The Cayce, S.C.-based utility declined to say what it pays its new hires. The nonunion company said the pay is "competitive" with a full benefits package. The Nuclear Energy Institute said the median salary for an electrical technician at a nuclear plant is $67,571, for a mechanical technician $66,581 and for a reactor operator $77,782.
To make sure the 800 positions are filled, SCE&G has been recruiting from within the industry, the military and from local high schools, two-year and four-year colleges. One of the schools its partnered with is Columbia, S.C.-based Midlands Technical College.
SCE&G approached the school in 2008 and asked Midlands to create a curriculum to train unlicensed nuclear operators. The utility would then hire from the pool to become licensed nuclear operators. Midlands agreed and launched the program in 2009, the same year that SCE&G broke ground on the the new reactors.
"Our foremost efforts at Midlands is to understand the needs of our customers in our region and then try to provide them with the skilled credentialed workforce that will get the job done," said Marshall "Sonny" White Jr., Midlands president.
"This is a wonderful opportunity with a two-year associate's degree to become a nuclear operator where you can have a job for life if you can keep yourself clean," he said.
Read MoreSolving manufacturers' jobs dilemma
Midlands itself recruits students from high schools, four-year colleges and underemployed adults or adults looking to make a career change. Right now, about 100 students are enrolled in the two-year program, and White said 85 to 90 percent of graduating classes have found jobs once they have graduated.
Wesley McQueen is one of them. The 25-year-old father of one with another baby on the way was a temporary state worker when he heard about the Midlands program, from which he graduated in May 2013.
"I really didn't know a whole lot about the nuclear industry at all, to be honest with you," said McQueen. "It was more or less an avenue to take to get my foot in the door of a good company."