Design technologies specializing in light information or light energy, such as laser or fiber optics technology.
Sample of reported job titles: Algorithm Developer, Laser Engineer, Optical Design Engineer, Optical Engineer, Optical Specialist, Optical Systems Engineer, Optoelectronics Engineer, Research and Development Engineer (R and D Engineer), Research Engineer
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | 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
- Analyze system performance or operational requirements.
- Develop optical or imaging systems, such as optical imaging products, optical components, image processes, signal process technologies, or optical systems.
- Develop or test photonic prototypes or models.
- Design, integrate, or test photonics systems or components.
- Assist in the transition of photonic prototypes to production.
- Read current literature, talk with colleagues, continue education, or participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in the field.
- Write reports or proposals related to photonics research or development projects.
- Conduct testing to determine functionality or optimization or to establish limits of photonics systems or components.
- Determine applications of photonics appropriate to meet product objectives or features.
- Conduct research on new photonics technologies.
- Design electro-optical sensing or imaging systems.
- Document photonics system or component design processes, including objectives, issues, or outcomes.
- Design photonics products, such as light sources, displays, or photovoltaics, to achieve increased energy efficiency.
- Train operators, engineers, or other personnel.
- Analyze, fabricate, or test fiber-optic links.
- Design gas lasers, solid state lasers, infrared, or other light emitting or light sensitive devices.
- Create or maintain photonic design histories.
- Oversee or provide expertise on manufacturing, assembly, or fabrication processes.
- Determine commercial, industrial, scientific, or other uses for electro-optical applications or devices.
- Design solar energy photonics or other materials or devices to generate energy.
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- Access software — Ciena software
- Analytical or scientific software — Photon Design PICWave; SAS ; The MathWorks MATLAB ; Wolfram Research Mathematica (see all 11 examples)
- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD ; Dassault Systemes CATIA; Dassault Systemes SolidWorks ; Optiwave OptiFDTD (see all 12 examples)
- Data base user interface and query software — Structure query language SQL
- Development environment software — Go ; Microsoft .NET Framework ; Microsoft Visual Basic ; National Instruments LabVIEW (see all 6 examples)
- Electronic mail software — Microsoft Outlook
- Geographic information system — ESRI ArcGIS software ; ESRI software; QGIS
- Map creation software — Mapping software
- Object or component oriented development software — C# ; C++ ; Oracle Java ; Perl (see all 5 examples)
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — Linux ; Shell script ; UNIX
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Process mapping and design software — Microsoft Visio
- Program testing software — Debugging software
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Web page creation and editing software — Facebook
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- 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.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- 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.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- 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.
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- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- 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.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Technology Design — Generating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
- 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.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- 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.
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- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- 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).
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- 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).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- 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.
- 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 that there is a problem.
- 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).
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- 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.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- 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.
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- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- 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.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- 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.
- 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.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Communicating with People Outside the 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.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Analyze operational data to evaluate operations, processes or products.
- Design electronic or computer equipment or instrumentation.
- Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
- Create physical models or prototypes.
- Prepare detailed work plans.
- Update technical knowledge.
- Prepare research or technical reports.
- Write reports or evaluations.
- Prepare proposal documents.
- Identify new applications for existing technologies.
- Research advanced engineering designs or applications.
- Train personnel on proper operational procedures.
- Fabricate devices or components.
- Document technical design details.
- Maintain operational records or records systems.
- Direct industrial production activities.
- Design energy production or management equipment or systems.
- Design industrial processing systems.
- Operate industrial equipment.
- Purchase materials, equipment, or other resources.
- Select tools, equipment, or technologies for use in operations or projects.
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- Electronic Mail — 96% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 96% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 83% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 61% responded “Extremely important.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 52% responded “Extremely important.”
- Contact With Others — 48% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 61% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Telephone — 65% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 43% responded “Some freedom.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 35% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 74% responded “More than half the time.”
- Level of Competition — 39% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 41% responded “Important.”
- Consequence of Error — 39% responded “Serious.”
- Time Pressure — 39% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Letters and Memos — 43% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 43% responded “Moderate results.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 39% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
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|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 real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
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Interest code: IRC Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- 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.
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- 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.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- 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.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
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- 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.
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Wages & Employment Trends
Median wage data for Engineers, All Other.
Employment data for Engineers, All Other.
Industry data for Engineers, All Other.
|Median wages (2020)||$49.70 hourly, $103,380 annual|
|Employment (2020)||167,100 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Slower than average (1% to 5%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||11,000|
|Top industries (2020)||
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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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.
- IEEE Photonics Society
- Optics and Photonics Education Directory
- Society for Information Display
- Society of Women Engineers
- The Optical Society
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