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Optical Engineer Job Description, Career as a Optical Engineer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $70,000 Annually

Job Outlook: Very Good

Job Description

An optical engineer or electro-optical engineer as they are sometimes called is involved with a wide array of responsibilities and tasks. They perform research as necessary so as to be able to perform their specific job appropriately. They plan the development and design of gas and solid state lasers, infrared, masers, and other light emitting and light sensitive devices. They are a specific type of engineer that deals with the optical diagnostics, so they may be involved with laser surgery type of work in their role. This is a mix between engineering and physics as both disciplines are imperative to this job.
An optical engineer primarily works to design the electronic circuitry and optical components catered to the specifications imposed on them. These components must all fit within the specified mechanical limits, and so their design work is quite important. They must ensure that the components that they design are able to perform their given specifications, otherwise the work that they do will not fit in with the specification.
A big part of their job is to deal with other engineering and technical staff members to ensure that their design work will work within the provided specifications. They may meet with these team members at the beginning to understand the specifications or request for work, and they will likely need to work with them throughout the process. Therefore relationship building may be important with other team members or outside vendors as necessary. An optical engineer designs suitable mounts for optics and power supply systems. They must ensure methods for maintaining and repairing the components and designs, working to uphold the integrity of both at all times.

The optical engineer is not only responsible for analysis to ensure the uses for their electro-optical devices,b ut they are also involved in the testing procedures for their components as well. They are considered to be a subject matter expert and therefore may be involved in everything from specification development to design to testing to analysis. In some instances, they may even be involved with the actual development of the manufacturing, assembly, and fabrication processes. As they are specialists within this area of engineering, they are consulted with on every step of the process.

Education and Training Requirements

Though a bachelor’s degree is usually the most common requirement, in some instances a master’s degree is required. It’s imperative that an individual have a degree within engineering or a related discipline. Any experience that the individual may bring to the table may be of great help in offsetting the educational requirement, but it is important nonetheless. It is often quite common that somebody working as an optical engineer continue on with their education to ensure that they are up to date with the latest technology and tools for their jobs. It’s also quite likely that there will continue to be additional training opportunities in the way of seminars, workshops, or direct training sessions to keep these engineers up to date.

Getting the Job

The best way to get the job is to have the background and experience required in the field. Initially it may be of great help to have a bachelor’s degree within this specific study of engineering or related experience. As an individual moves throughout their career, it is imperative that they pursue further education and continue to add onto their experience. As they are considered to be subject matter experts in this field of engineering, it is important that an individual has a good mix of experience and education or training to get the job. That will become even more important as they move throughout their career.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Fortunately there is a great need for optical engineers, as demand is high. Since there is an increased use of optics within engineering and a cross of various applications that utilize this technology, that all adds up to more jobs for optical engineers. This is great news for the individual trying to find a job in the field, or for those wishing to move within their career. This is a newer and very utilized technology and therefore the demand is expected to stay up for quite some time. For those who have experience in this field, moving up in their career should be seamless. This is a great field to be in, and a specialty within engineering that offers great potential for growth and job opportunities.

Working Conditions and Environment

Typically an optical engineer has a desk or office that they perform all of their design work. This may be where they spend most of their days, but they may also be involved in other environments throughout a facility. They may travel to test sites or work within a laboratory of sorts with other engineers or testing personnel. They may be required to travel depending on the nature of their specific role. They may work within a more specific environment such as a healthcare company if they work specifically to support them in their job. There is some stress that comes with the job, and may be some long hours as they work on the design process or even the testing. Optical engineers should be able to wear a number of different hats and be able to keep cool under pressure.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for an optical engineer is around $70,000. This is quite dependent on the number of years of experience that the individual has, as well as the geographical location for which they work within. Working within a larger city or for a bigger corporation may factor into the salary that an optical engineer receives. They may expect to earn a nice benefits package which includes health insurance, paid time off, a retirement account, tuition reimbursement, and perhaps even a flexible work schedule depending on the employer.

Where to Go for More Information

Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers
PO Box 10
Bellingham WA 98227-0010 USA

International Engineering Consortium
300 W. Adams Street
Suite 1210
Chicago, IL 60606-5114 USA
312-559-4100

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