Photonics Engineer: Job Description, Outlook & Salary

Photons have a number of technological applications, and photonics engineers use these tiny particles or bundles of electromagnetic radiation when they create new design plans. This article explores more about their role in product development and how to prepare for a career in this field.

Career Definition of a Photonics Engineer

Photonics engineers create and improve types of technology that work with photons, which are bundles of electromagnetic radiation. The things they work with may produce or use light energy or transfer data. Examples could include scanners or equipment that runs on fiber optics. Their job is to design technological equipment or components that involve photonics. Once they've completed a design plan they oversee the process of constructing a prototype. At that point, photonics engineers perform tests to determine if the component they've integrated or the equipment they've designed is operating as desired.

Photonics engineers assess the performance of their creation and then determine if it needs to be improved, which may involve design modifications. They document their research and analysis, and they also assist with the production process once the design is refined for optimal performance.

Educational Requirements Bachelor's degree
Job Skills Familiarity with computer design software, mathematical skills, knowledge of physics, computer skills, software programming language skills, design skills, analytical skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills
Median Salary (2016)* $97,300 (engineers, all other)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 6% (engineers, all other)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A bachelor's degree is the standard educational requirement for entry-level work as a photonics engineer. Some of those who work in this field may opt to complete a master's or doctoral degree in engineering as well. Professional Engineering (PE) certification may also be an asset. Engineering fields that those who are interested in photonics may opt to study include biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering.

Required Skills

Photonics engineers need to have design skills to come up with original and effective design plans for new technology. They must have strong computer skills so that they can use computer design software to produce their design plans, and they may also need computer programming skills and expert knowledge of computer components since their work might involve designing computer components. Their work involves performing mathematical calculations, which requires strong mathematical skills. Analytical skills are also important when they're assessing the performance of prototypes to identify problems or aspects of their design that can be improved. Problem-solving skills are needed to resolve performance issues effectively. Photonics engineers also need good communication skills to produce effective reports and integrate feedback from other professionals about their prototypes and design plans.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides occupational data for 'engineers, all other' which includes photonics engineers. According to the BLS, from 2016 to 2026 this group of engineers will see a 6% rate of job growth in their field. The BLS also indicated that the median annual income for these engineers was $97,300 in 2016.

Related Careers

This list connects to information about related technician positions or other professions in engineering. The following careers may have some duties similar to those performed by photonics engineers and might be of interest to those considering this career field.

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