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Acoustics vs. Optics/Photonics career prospects

  1. Jan 10, 2016 #1
    I'm currently an undergraduate Engineering Physics student. My university offers the following specializations within the program:

    - Renewable Energy
    - Biomedical Physics and Acoustics
    - Optics/Photonics

    I know this mainly comes down to personal interest, but I'm also interested in the practical side / career opportunities. I plan to go to grad school and then begin a professional career. (I'm probably not looking to go the PhD route, as I will be about 32 when finishing grad school.)

    I'm personally most interested in Optics or Acoustics. My main thought is that Acoustics may be somewhat limited and the job market a little smaller, while Optics seems to have a wide range of applications. Is this correct? Would be great to hear from anyone working in these fields, what types of jobs (and salaries) are most common, and any other info to consider. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2016 #2
    I can't speak to the field of acoustics, but having some exposure to the field of optics and its possibilities I can say that its a solid field to go into at the moment. There are tons of specialties in optics, particularly in the area of optical materials and their properties. The caveat here is that whatever you decide to pursue I strongly recommend that you look into graduate programs that will help you gain hands on experience. Begin now to culture connections with optical physicists and materials scientists. These people can help give you a better idea of what tools, knowledge, and methods you'll need experience or familiarity with.

    I want to say that optical engineers get paid pretty well starting out. Seeing as the industry is thriving I don't think you would have too much difficulty finding work that pays around 70-80k, possibly more, starting with a master's degree. Again, your ability to find a job in optical engineering will be difficult, as is the case with lots of fields at the moment, but networking now will only help you know how to proceed from here and find companies and individuals who can help you get a job later.

    Whatever you choose I hope you have success. Good luck, and feel free to fire any questions you have back my way.
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