Laser Technician Video: How to Become a Laser Tech
Laser Technician Video: How to Become a Laser Tech Transcript
Powerful, practical lasers aren't just science fiction anymore. Today, dozens of industries, from healthcare to aerospace engineering, make use of laser technologies. If you're interested in a career as a laser technologist, or laser tech, consider earning an associate's degree in Laser Technology or a bachelor's degree in Physics. If you study up on the practical applications of lasers and their theoretical foundations you can get started in a challenging and rewarding career.
First developed in 1958, lasers are intensely focused beams of light with many industrial applications, from tattoo removal to creating accurate maps. Today, laser technicians are professionals who specialize in the use and control of lasers in industrial and medical applications. An associate's degree in Laser Technology or a bachelor's degree in Physics is required for most positions. Professional certification or licensing may also be required, depending on the position.
Job Duties and Skills
In their medical applications, lasers are used as precision cutting instruments and to make changes to the skin, eyes and other organs. Tattoos can be removed and vision corrected. Laser techs operate the equipment used during these procedures. In most cases, they work alongside a physician or nurse and follow their instructions. In other procedures, the physician may control the laser itself and the technician monitors a computer terminal to provide feedback to the doctor.
In factories and manufacturing plants, lasers are used to cut and fuse metals. Laser techs operate powerful lasers to accomplish these tasks. This can be dangerous work and attention to detail is essential. Lasers can also be used in surveying and mapmaking to mark true, straight lines and to measure distance. In the military, lasers are used to create guidance systems for missiles and other ballistic projectiles. Laser techs may also be used in a field known as spectroscopy. This field uses lasers to determine the components of unknown substances. The most common use of this technology is in criminal investigations. Laser spectroscopy of a fleck of paint may reveal the origin of the paint, providing investigators with important information.
All careers in laser technology require excellent computer skills. Computer terminals are used to control industrial and medical lasers and to record data. Powerful lasers are dangerous and safety should take priority in their use.
Associate's and bachelor's degrees in Laser Technology are offered by many vocational schools, community colleges and four-year universities. These programs are built around a general study of the applications and uses of laser technology. More advanced programs will include a thorough study of the mathematical and scientific principles upon which laser technology is based. In addition, most programs will include courses that focus on the use of computer technology. Programs that focus on the medical applications of laser technology will offer students the opportunity to work in a clinical setting as part of their education.
Required professional certifications will depend upon the type of position desired. Medical laser technicians may be required to receive a state-issued license, depending on local regulations. Laser techs who choose to work in an industrial or research environment are not required to be licensed.
Opportunities are found in a variety of industries for trained laser technicians. Medical laser techs are generally employed by private clinics specializing in elective treatments, such as laser hair removal or other cosmetic procedures. In industrial applications, laser technicians are employed in manufacturing, surveying, alternative energy and the military.
A master's degree in Physics can create opportunities for more advanced industrial positions and careers in academic research as well.
If you have a love for technology, science and working with high tech equipment, a career as a laser technician may be right for you.