What Salaries do Optics and Photonics Folk Have?

A large SPIE survey of optics and photonics workers' salaries shows big differences depending on location and employment area.

1 min read

Preliminary results from the largest optics and photonics salary survey are in.
The median salary for photonics worker is $75,000.

The global survey of over 7000 optics and photonics professionals was conducted by SPIE, the international society of optics and photonics. The survey found a large range of salaries, depending on an employee’s location and the field of employment.

North America is the highest-paid region with a median salary of $102,400, while Africa is the lowest-paid, with a salary of $11,746 (this from just 49 respondents). In Asia and Europe, there’s a chasm in salaries between richer countries such as Japan and Germany and poorer economies such as China and Poland. In Asia for instance, those in higher-income countries making $85,242 versus $15,470 for those in lower-income nations.

Optics and photonics workers in aerospace engineering and research positions earn the most at $105,152. Among the lowest-paid are those working in civil/environmental ($27,550) and biomedical ($56,000) engineering and research. The SPIE salary survey website has many more details.

For perspective, U.S. engineers in the aerospace arena make $99,000 while those in the civil and biomedical fields make over $82,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, take a look at what newly minted U.S. engineers and those in the renewable energy industry make.

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