Photonics-Related Career Paths

The list of career paths available to someone with photonics skills is diverse; what follows is a partial list of opportunities for photonics technicians. Photonics technicians are employed in industries as diverse as government labs, construction equipment companies, automobile manufacturers, telecommunications providers, computer companies, and of course, companies that manufacture lasers and optical equipment.

Laser technician – builds, tests, installs, maintains, services, and repairs laser systems, often with much travel to customer locations. Can be high-power equipment for construction or heavy industry and academic research purposes, or low-power lasers for things like supermarket scanners, surveyors, laser pointers, and student lasers;

Fiber optics technician – can work in production of fiber optics devices and systems such as transmission/distribution/receiving equipment, or field service and installation of such systems for applications such as telephone/computer/cable TV, medical equipment, sensors;

Optics manufacturing technician –  fabrication of optical components such as mirrors, lenses, gratings, polarizers, prisms, etc., including cutting, grinding, shaping, polishing, and coating;

Optics test technician – responsible for testing optical components made by the optical manufacturing technician;

Thin-film technician – specializes in very thin optical coatings for things like wavelength (color) – selective filters, anti-reflection coatings, special mirrors, polarizing elements;

Optical lab technician – responsible for the care and maintenance of optical systems in the lab, such as interferometers, spectrometers, microscopes, small lasers, and optical components like lenses and mirrors, polarizers, etc.;

Research lab technician – maintains equipment, sets up and runs optics and laser-related experiments as directed by researcher;

College laboratory technician – maintains, builds, and services optics equipment for student experiments and research;

Cleanroom technician – works in semiconductor fabrication facility, manufacturing optical devices such as multilayer thin-film stack devices (mirrors, filters, lasers) and semiconductor lasers and diodes. Usually works with microscopic devices in an extremely clean and controlled environment;

Optical device manufacturing technician – works for a company that manufactures devices and products such as spectrometers, interferometers, medical optical equipment, night vision equipment, eyewear, optical assemblies for photocopiers, computer printers, scanners, optical data drives, etc., assembling, servicing, and installing such equipment;

Optical device test technician – responsible for testing the optical devices made by the optical device manufacturing technician.