Industry Demand for Two-Year College Graduates in Optics and Photonics Technology
A 2012 Industry Survey of Current and Future Demand for Two-Year Degreed Photonics Technicians
A national survey of U.S. employers, conducted at the University of North Texas Survey Research Center, has identified more than 1,500 current jobs for photonics techs that need to be filled this year. This need will increase by 4,100 more new jobs over the next five years. Employers polled for this study in early 2012 said that jobs for photonics techs were available and not being filled. The average starting salary exceeds $41,000.
The 2012 study, commissioned by OP-TEC, the National Center for Optics and Photonics Education, targeted 4,217 U.S. employers.
Photonics technicians, educated and trained at U.S. community colleges, are proficient in the scientific principles of optics, fiber-optics and lasers, and the processes and equipment incorporating these devices in electronic and electro-optics systems used for manufacturing, defense, homeland security, medical equipment, telecommunications, environmental monitoring, lighting, displays and entertainment.
Key findings of the study included the following estimates:
- 19,128 photonics technicians with two-year degrees are currently employed in the U.S.
- 1,592 additional photonics technicians with two-year degrees are needed next year; 4,115 will be needed over the next five years.
- Employer demand for photonics technicians with two-year degrees has increased since 2009, whereas the national unemployement rate has remained above 8%.
- A large gap exists between the demand and the supply of completers from two-year colleges.
- The average entry level salary for photonics technicians with two-year degrees is $41,137; a 5% increase from 2009.
- Over 1,000 U.S. employers are interested in further education for their employed photonics technicians.
The thirty, two-year colleges with photonics programs in the U.S. currently graduate 250-300 technicians per year (approximately 15% of the demand). OP-TEC’s goal is to help colleges meet this employment demand by starting new programs and increasing the enrollments at colleges where photonics education is currently offered.