Summary Report for:
17-2199.07 - Photonics Engineers
Design technologies specializing in light information or light energy, such as laser or fiber optics technology.
Sample of reported job titles: Laser Engineer, Optical Design Engineer, Optical Engineer, Optical Engineering Manager, Optical Scientist, Optical Systems Engineer, Optoelectronics Engineer, Process Engineering and Metrology Manager, System Engineer, Technology Director
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Design, integrate, or test photonics systems or components.
- Develop optical or imaging systems, such as optical imaging products, optical components, image processes, signal process technologies, or optical systems.
- Analyze system performance or operational requirements.
- Write reports or research proposals.
- Assist in the transition of photonic prototypes to production.
- Develop or test photonic prototypes or models.
- Conduct testing to determine functionality or optimization or to establish limits of photonics systems or components.
- Design electro-optical sensing or imaging systems.
- Read current literature, talk with colleagues, continue education, or participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in the field.
- Conduct research on new photonics technologies.
- Determine applications of photonics appropriate to meet product objectives or features.
- Document design processes including objectives, issues, and outcomes.
- Oversee or provide expertise on manufacturing, assembly, or fabrication processes.
- Train operators, engineers, or other personnel.
- Determine commercial, industrial, scientific, or other uses for electro-optical applications or devices.
- Design gas lasers, solid state lasers, infrared, or other light emitting or light sensitive devices.
- Design or develop new crystals for photonics applications.
- Design or redesign optical fibers to minimize energy loss.
- Design photonics products, such as light sources, displays, or photovoltaics, to achieve increased energy efficiency.
- Design solar energy photonics or other materials or devices to generate energy.
- Develop photonics sensing or manufacturing technologies to improve the efficiency of manufacturing or related processes.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Bench refractometers or polarimeters — Bench refractometers
- Chromatographic detectors — Photodetectors
- Digital cameras — Line scan cameras
- Electron microscopes — Microprobe stations; Probe test stations
- Flowmeters — Flow meters
- Fluorescent microscopes — Confocal fluorescence microscopes; Deconvolution fluorescence microscopes; Total internal reflection fluorescence TIRF microscopes
- Frequency counters or timer or dividers — Photon counting systems
- Fume hoods or cupboards — Chemical hoods
- Graphic recorders — Digital panel meters
- HEPA filtered enclosures — Biosafety cabinets
- Infrared imagers — Infrared viewers; Near infrared cameras
- Interferometers — Autocorrelators; Optical spectrum analyzers; Wavelength meters
- Isolation glove boxes
- Laboratory safety furnaces — Oxidation furnaces
- Laser beam analyzers — Laser beam profilers
- Laser fax machine — Laser facsimile machines
- Laser printers
- Lasers — Argon-ion lasers; Nitrogen lasers; Tunable diode lasers; Tunable dye lasers (see all 8 examples)
- Level generators — Pulse generators
- Lightmeters — Photodiode array detectors; Streak cameras
- Optical choppers
- Oscilloscopes — Digital storage oscilloscopes DSO
- Personal computers
- Power meters — Optical power meters
- Reflectometers — Optical time domain reflectometers OTDR
- Scanning electron microscopes — Scanning electron microscopes SEM
- Scanning light or spinning disk or laser scanning microscopes — Coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering CARS microscopes; Near field scanning optical microscopes NSOM; Raman microscopes
- Scanning probe microscopes — Atomic force microscopes AFM
- Semiconductor process systems — Contact lithography systems; Electron beam lithography systems; Plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition PECVD systems; Vacuum deposition systems (see all 6 examples)
- Semiconductor testers — Semiconductor parameter analyzers
- Spectrofluorimeters or fluorimeters — Fluorescence lifetime spectrometers; Spectrofluorimeters
- Spectrometers — Spectroscopes
- Temperature cycling chambers or thermal cyclers — Rapid thermal annealers RTA
- Tumblers or polishers — Chemical mechanical polishing CMP systems
- Utility knives — Optical fiber cleavers
- Vibration testers — Laser Doppler vibrometers
- Voltage or current meters — Current monitors
- Xenon lamp — Xenon arc lamps
Technology used in this occupation:
- Analytical or scientific software — Adept Scientific GRAMS; Mathsoft Mathcad; The MathWorks MATLAB ; Wolfram Research Mathematica (see all 9 examples)
- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD ; Dassault Systemes CATIA ; Optiwave OptiFDTD; Photon Design FIMMWAVE (see all 9 examples)
- Development environment software — C ; Microsoft .NET Framework ; Microsoft Visual Basic ; National Instruments LabVIEW
- Electronic mail software — Microsoft Outlook
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Microsoft Visio
- Object or component oriented development software — C# ; C++ ; Python
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
- Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Technology Design — Generating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
Detailed Work Activities
- Design electronic or computer equipment or instrumentation.
- Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
- Analyze operational data to evaluate operations, processes or products.
- Prepare operational reports.
- Prepare proposal documents.
- Create physical models or prototypes.
- Prepare detailed work plans.
- Research advanced engineering designs or applications.
- Update technical knowledge.
- Identify new applications for existing technologies.
- Prepare procedural documents.
- Direct industrial production activities.
- Train personnel on proper operational procedures.
- Fabricate devices or components.
- Document technical design details.
- Maintain operational records or records systems.
- Operate industrial equipment.
- Purchase materials, equipment, or other resources.
- Select tools, equipment, or technologies for use in operations or projects.
- Design energy production or management equipment or systems.
- Design industrial processing systems.
- Electronic Mail — 96% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 88% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 75% responded “Every day.”
- Telephone — 50% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 71% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 50% responded “Some freedom.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 50% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 46% responded “Extremely important.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 42% responded “Extremely important.”
- Contact With Others — 42% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 54% responded “More than half the time.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 54% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 58% responded “Important results.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 38% responded “Very important.”
- Letters and Memos — 38% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Consequence of Error — 29% responded “Very serious.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 38% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
- Time Pressure — 54% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Deal With External Customers — 33% responded “Fairly important.”
- Level of Competition — 42% responded “Moderately competitive.”
- Physical Proximity — 67% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 42% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 46% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
Interest code: IRC
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Wages & Employment Trends
Median wages data collected from Engineers, All Other.
Employment data collected from Engineers, All Other.
Industry data collected from Engineers, All Other.
|Median wages (2015)||$46.11 hourly, $95,900 annual|
|Employment (2014)||137,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Slower than average (2% to 4%)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||33,000|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Optics and Photonics Education Directory
- SPIE , P.O. Box 10, Bellingham, WA 98227. Phone: (888) 504-8171. Fax: (360) 647-1445.
- The Optical Society (OSA) , 2010 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036. Phone: (202) 223-8130. Fax: (202) 223-1096.