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Photonics Technicians
SOC Code: 17-3029.08

Build, install, test, or maintain optical or fiber optic equipment, such as lasers, lenses, or mirrors, using spectrometers, interferometers, or related equipment.

Sample of reported job titles: Coating Manager, Engineering Technician (Engineering Tech), Engineering Technologist, Fiber Optics Technician, Laser Technician, Lead Technician, Optomechanical Technician, Photonic Laboratory Technician (Photonic Lab Tech), Photonics Technician, Ruling Technician


  • Maintain clean working environments, according to clean room standards.
  • Compute or record photonic test data.
  • Adjust or maintain equipment, such as lasers, laser systems, microscopes, oscilloscopes, pulse generators, power meters, beam analyzers, or energy measurement devices.
  • Set up or operate assembly or processing equipment, such as lasers, cameras, die bonders, wire bonders, dispensers, reflow ovens, soldering irons, die shears, wire pull testers, temperature or humidity chambers, or optical spectrum analyzers.
  • Document procedures, such as calibration of optical or fiber optic equipment.
  • Perform diagnostic analyses of processing steps, using analytical or metrological tools, such as microscopy, profilometry, or ellipsometry devices.
  • Assist engineers in the development of new products, fixtures, tools, or processes.
  • Mix, pour, or use processing chemicals or gases according to safety standards or established operating procedures.
  • Assist scientists or engineers in the conduct of photonic experiments.
  • Assemble fiber optical, optoelectronic, or free-space optics components, subcomponents, assemblies, or subassemblies.
  • Set up or operate prototype or test apparatus, such as control consoles, collimators, recording equipment, or cables.
  • Test or perform failure analysis for optomechanical or optoelectrical products, according to test plans.
  • Assemble or adjust parts or related electrical units of prototypes to prepare for testing.
  • Recommend optical or optic equipment design or material changes to reduce costs or processing times.
  • Monitor inventory levels and order supplies as necessary.
  • Repair or calibrate products, such as surgical lasers.
  • Monitor mechanical factors, such as turbine load or strain information.
  • Terminate, cure, polish, or test fiber cables with mechanical connectors.
  • Design, build, or modify fixtures used to assemble parts.
  • Splice fibers, using fusion splicing or other techniques.
  • Optimize photonic process parameters by making prototype or production devices.
  • Build prototype optomechanical devices for use in equipment such as aerial cameras, gun sights, or telescopes.
  • Assemble components of energy-efficient optical communications systems involving photonic switches, optical backplanes, or optoelectronic interfaces.
  • Lay out cutting lines for machining, using drafting tools.

Technology Skills

  • Analytical or scientific software - Data acquisition software; Statistical analysis software; The MathWorks MATLAB
  • Computer aided design CAD software - ZEMAX Optical Design Program
  • Computer aided manufacturing CAM software
  • Data base user interface and query software - Database software
  • Enterprise resource planning ERP software - SAP
  • Graphics or photo imaging software - Image processing software
  • Internet browser software - Web browser software
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Presentation software
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software

Tools Used

  • Bench refractometers or polarimeters - Bench refractometers
  • Binocular light compound microscopes
  • Cable splicing kits - Fusion splicers
  • Calipers
  • Comparators - Optical comparators
  • Coordinate measuring machines CMM
  • Cutting machines - Fiber cleavers
  • Depth gauges
  • Diffractometers
  • Digital testers - Bit error rate testers BERT
  • Drill press or radial drill - Computerized numerical control CNC drill presses
  • Facial shields - Chemical protective face shields
  • Fiber optic fault locators
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Hardness testers
  • HEPA filtered enclosures - Biosafety cabinets
  • Horizontal turning center - Computerized numerical control CNC lathes
  • Induction heaters - Laser heat treatment equipment
  • Integrated circuit testers - Digital logic analyzers; Digital logic probes; Logic pulsers
  • Interferometers - Optical spectrum analyzers; Shearing interferometers; Twyman-Green interferometers; Wavelength meters (see all 9 examples)
  • Isolators
  • Jacks - Lab jacks
  • Lab coats - Protective gowns
  • Laboratory evaporators - Electron beam evaporators
  • Laboratory forceps
  • Laboratory mechanical convection ovens - Reflow ovens
  • Laser cutting machine - Laser cutting machines; Laser drills
  • Laser measuring systems - Laser marking machines
  • Laser welding machine - Laser welders
  • Lasers - Diode lasers; Excimer lasers; Liquid dye lasers; Solid state lasers (see all 6 examples)
  • Loupes
  • Magnifiers
  • Micrometers - Vernier micrometers
  • Milling machines - Computerized numerical control CNC machining centers
  • Monochromators
  • Multimeters - Multifunction digital multimeters
  • Optical diffusers - Autocollimators
  • Optical mounts - Optical alignment scopes
  • Optical rails or bases - Optical rails
  • Oscilloscopes - Analog oscilloscopes; Digital oscilloscopes
  • Personal computers
  • Photosensitive diodes - Semiconductor detectors
  • Pocket calculator - Hand calculators
  • Polishing machines - Fiber polishers
  • Portable data input terminals - Dataloggers
  • Positioning jig - Micropositioners; Positioning stages
  • Power grinders - Abrasive grinding machines
  • Power meters - Optical power meters; Photoelectric power meters
  • Power saws - Cutoff saws; Die shears; Wire saws
  • Protective gloves
  • Refrigerated and heated reach in environmental or growth chambers - Humidity chambers; Temperature chambers
  • Safety glasses
  • Sawing machines - Computerized numerical control CNC band saws
  • Scanning electron microscopes - Scanning electron microscopes SEM
  • Scanning probe microscopes - Atomic force microscopes AFM
  • Semiconductor process systems - Chemical vapor deposition CVD systems; Electron cyclotron resonance ECR reactive ion etchers RIE; Plasma strippers; Sputter deposition systems (see all 10 examples)
  • Semiconductor testers - Semiconductor parameter analyzers
  • Signal generators
  • Soldering iron - Soldering irons
  • Spectrometers
  • Spectrophotometers
  • Spherometers
  • Surface testers - Contact profilometers; Non contact profilometers
  • Temperature cycling chambers or thermal cyclers - Rapid thermal annealers RTA
  • Tension testers - Wire pull testers
  • Thickness measuring devices - Ellipsometers
  • X ray diffraction equipment - Collimators


  • 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.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • 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.


  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • 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.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Equipment Maintenance - Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Troubleshooting - Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
  • 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.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Repairing - Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
  • 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.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.


  • 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.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • 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).
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • 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.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • 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).
  • Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • 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.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Visual Color Discrimination - The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.


  • Interest code: RIC
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

Work Context

  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 72% responded “Every day.”
  • Electronic Mail - 76% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 60% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 72% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 56% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone - 48% responded “Every day.”
  • Time Pressure - 44% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 48% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 60% responded “40 hours.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 44% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 68% responded “Very important.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 32% responded “Important results.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 36% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Consequence of Error - 32% responded “Serious.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 52% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 28% responded “Every day.”
  • Contact With Others - 40% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
  • Letters and Memos - 24% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 29% responded “Important.”
  • Spend Time Standing - 32% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 44% responded “Important.”
  • Level of Competition - 48% responded “Moderately competitive.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
32%Associate's degree
16%Some college, no degree
12%High school diploma or equivalent

Work Styles

  • 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.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • 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.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • 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.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

Work Values

  • 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.
  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Relationships - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $29.92 hourly, $62,230 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 77,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Average (5% to 9%)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 7,100

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