Laser technicians work in a wide range of industries—from manufacturing, communications, and medicine, to scientific research, the military, and construction. In manufacturing, for example, a laser technician might work at larger companies such as Zygo (precision optics and metrology) and Trumpf (large industrial lasers) or at small start-ups such as Aperture Optical Sciences (precision optics).
Colleges that offer associate's degrees in laser technology usually work closely with industry, providing their graduating students with placement services and lists of potential employers. Most laser technicians graduating from a two-year program, in fact, are interviewed and recruited while still in school by representatives of companies that need laser technicians. If hired, they begin working soon after graduation.
Another way to enter the career is to join a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces under a technical training program for laser technicians. Military laser training is not always compatible with civilian training, however, and further study of theory and applications may be needed to enter the field as a civilian.
Additionally, the Laser Institute of America offers job listings at its Web site, https://careers.lia.org.
Opportunities for advancement in laser technology are excellent for technicians who keep up with advances in the field. In such a relatively new technology, developments occur very rapidly. Workers who learn about and adapt to these changes become more valuable to their employers and advance to greater responsibilities.
Many employers designate various grades or levels for laser technicians, according to experience, education, and job performance. By being promoted through these levels, technicians can advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Supervisors manage a department, supervise other technicians, and train new or current employees.
Mature, experienced, and highly successful laser technicians may decide to become consultants or specialists for individual firms. A consulting position entails working closely with clients, conducting studies and surveys, and proposing improvements, changes, and solutions to problems.
Some technicians move into sales or technical writing positions. Others become instructors in vocational programs, teaching intermediate or advanced laser and fiber optics technology courses.
Tips for Entry
Read the IEEE Photonics Journal (https://www.photonicssociety.org/publications/photonics-journal) to learn more about the field.
For job listings, visit:
Conduct information interviews with laser technicians and ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.
Attend events such as the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition, which provides opportunities to network with optical communications professionals.