Monday, April 20, 2009

Need a Job? Learn to be a Photonics Technician

Lots of good people in the U.S. have lost their jobs, or are worried about losing their jobs in the near future. And, many of the jobs that are being eliminated aren’t going to come back after the recession is over because the market is changing and the jobs have become obsolete. It’s time for some people to plan new careers and get the education and training they will need to fulfill their plans. Many high school seniors who planned to attend a university may also be rethinking a more affordable - and possibly more rewarding - education at a community or technical college.

So, whether you’ve recently lost a job, or are worried about the security of the job you’re in, or are just beginning to plan for a career, you might want to consider becoming a photonics technician. A national study of U.S. employers, conducted for OP-TEC, has identified more than 2,100 current jobs for photonics techs that need to be filled this year; this need continues to grow over the next five years. Employers polled for this study early this year - in the height of the current recession - said that jobs for photonics techs were available and not being filled. (A report of this jobs study will appear on the OP-TEC website in a few weeks.)

Most employers want photonics techs that have been educated and trained at 2-year colleges. Starting salaries for photonics techs range from $40,000 to about $55,000 per year. We currently have about 30 colleges throughout the U.S. that offer education/training in photonics technology - and that number will grow substantially in the next several years, because these colleges just can’t keep up with the demand.

There are several avenues to becoming a photonics tech:

Earn an AAS degree in Photonics - If you are currently (or soon to be) a student in higher education, you can enroll in one of the 30 U.S. colleges that offer photonics education. (Six have recently been highlighted in my blogs; the name and contact information of a college near you can be obtained from OP-TEC.) The most important requirements for student success in photonics are a willingness to work hard and the ability to use high school math (algebra, geometry and trig.) If you’re willing to work hard, the college will help you through any math problems you may have. You’ll also get to experience “hands-on learning” in some interesting high-tech labs using lasers and fiber optics, etc.

Earn an Advanced Certificate in Photonics - If you already have an AAS degree in an electronics or manufacturing-based technology, you can build on the education you have, and be employed in a photonics-enhanced field by taking several courses in optics, photonics and laser applications. (See “Photonics-Enabled Technologies” in the OP-TEC web site.) If you are currently employed, you might want to take these courses in a “hybrid, online” format, to reduce the time you have to spend at the college.

Retrain in Photonics to Enter a New Career - If you already have education in mathematics, science and another field of engineering technology (like semiconductor manufacturing), the retraining process may take as little as one semester (or 3-4 courses). These courses may also be available in a hybrid, online format.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in Photonics and need to get connected to a college that offers education in this field, contact OP-TEC and we’ll “hook you up”. If you’re a faculty or administrator, and are interested in your college offering education in Photonics - OP-TEC can help you. If you are a photonics college & want to quote parts or all of this blog, please feel free to do so.

For more information about OP-TEC, photonics technician careers or colleges offering photonics education, please contact us!


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

very useful post