Application-oriented areas in Optics & Photonics

In summary, the conversation discusses the job market for those with a PhD in Optics/Photonics and the potential for growth in the industry. It also mentions the skills needed for other job options such as consulting and finance, and the job market in Canada/Europe compared to the US. The conversation also shares personal experiences of individuals with PhDs in Optics/Photonics struggling to find jobs in the field, but suggests that pursuing a PhD for personal interest and networking may still be worthwhile.
  • #1
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Hello all,

I am considering applying for PhD programs in Physics/EE (specifically - Optics/Photonics). Considering pervasive posts about the dismal job market, I understand Optics/Photonics is more applied, and hence more sought-after in industry. However, what areas within Optics/Photonics look to grow industrially in the future? Apart from the specific skills that I will be trained in during my PhD, what are the other skills that I need to develop in order to move into other probable jobs such as consulting, finance, et cetera?

How does the job market in Canada/Europe in this field fare in comparison to the US?

PS-I am definitely not considering an academic career.

Thank you.
 
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  • #2
I would take a look at harsh environment fiber optic sensing. There are tons of current research areas, all the way from the coating and core materials to a systems level implementation and design. This, in my opinion, is a very promising field and holds the interests of many oil/gas/power and aerospace companies (and maybe other sectors).
 
  • #3
Thank you sus4. I was never aware of that filed. Will surely look into it.

Any one else has other experience/knowledge/insights?
 
  • #4
renewed said:
Hello all,

I am considering applying for PhD programs in Physics/EE (specifically - Optics/Photonics). Considering pervasive posts about the dismal job market, I understand Optics/Photonics is more applied, and hence more sought-after in industry. However, what areas within Optics/Photonics look to grow industrially in the future? Apart from the specific skills that I will be trained in during my PhD, what are the other skills that I need to develop in order to move into other probable jobs such as consulting, finance, et cetera?

How does the job market in Canada/Europe in this field fare in comparison to the US?

PS-I am definitely not considering an academic career.

Thank you.
I know about 20 people who got their EE/Physics PhD degrees in Optics/Photonics in several different countries. Many of them looked for jobs across the globe, and none managed to find a job in Optics/Photonics industry. Only one of them got a job in a related field (metalworking/high power lasers). Most of them specialised in optical telecommunications or applied quantum optics. Almost all are now postdocs because they can't find any real jobs.

This is however just anecdotal evidence, and 20 is not a big sample.
 
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  • #5
Corpuscule said:
I know about 20 people who got their EE/Physics PhD degrees in Optics/Photonics in several different countries. Many of them looked for jobs across the globe, and none managed to find a job in Optics/Photonics industry. Only one of them got a job in a related field (metalworking/high power lasers). Most of them specialised in optical telecommunications or applied quantum optics. Almost all are now postdocs because they can't find any real jobs.

This is however just anecdotal evidence, and 20 is not a big sample.

Corpuscule, this may be a little off-topic, but do you know of anyone who received their PhD degree in any specific field who ended up working in a (non-academic) position that is directly related to their PhD research?
 
  • #6
StatGuy2000 said:
Corpuscule, this may be a little off-topic, but do you know of anyone who received their PhD degree in any specific field who ended up working in a (non-academic) position that is directly related to their PhD research?
Nope, which just means that PhD specialisation may not matter that much, since you are very likely going to work in a completely unrelated area in the end.

Well, there might be bigger demand for specialists in certain areas of physics/EE (there was a thread about accelerator physics here on physicsforums). I however have no first-hand experience with such things.
 
  • #7
Corpuscule said:
I know about 20 people who got their EE/Physics PhD degrees in Optics/Photonics in several different countries. Many of them looked for jobs across the globe, and none managed to find a job in Optics/Photonics industry. Only one of them got a job in a related field (metalworking/high power lasers). Most of them specialised in optical telecommunications or applied quantum optics. Almost all are now postdocs because they can't find any real jobs.

This is however just anecdotal evidence, and 20 is not a big sample.

That's quite scary. Given that there are so many industries that directly or indirectly employ optics/photonics products/services, I find it somewhat hard to accept that only 1 in 20 people of your acquaintances got a job in a related field. Even though the sample size is small, it probably speaks for the trend. What is even more surprising is that I was previously assuming optical telecommunications to be a highly employable field. Should I abandon my plans for a PhD altogether?
 
  • #8
renewed said:
That's quite scary. Given that there are so many industries that directly or indirectly employ optics/photonics products/services, I find it somewhat hard to accept that only 1 in 20 people of your acquaintances got a job in a related field. Even though the sample size is small, it probably speaks for the trend. What is even more surprising is that I was previously assuming optical telecommunications to be a highly employable field. Should I abandon my plans for a PhD altogether?
If you want to do a PhD because you like it, then go for it. Just don't expect the degree itself to be of any help in your job search. Establish a network of professional connections, make your name known, get a broad range of skills. Quite likely you will still fail to get a job related to your PhD, so have a contingency plan.
 

1. What is the difference between Optics and Photonics?

Optics is the study of light and its behavior, while Photonics is the application of light in various technologies. Optics is a branch of physics, while Photonics is a multidisciplinary field that incorporates physics, engineering, and materials science.

2. What are some examples of application-oriented areas in Optics & Photonics?

Some examples of application-oriented areas in Optics & Photonics include telecommunications, laser technology, medical imaging, solar energy, and quantum computing. These areas use principles of Optics & Photonics to develop practical solutions for real-world problems.

3. How does Optics & Photonics contribute to advancements in technology?

Optics & Photonics play a crucial role in many technological advancements. For example, the development of fiber optics has revolutionized telecommunications, while advancements in laser technology have led to applications in areas such as manufacturing, medicine, and entertainment.

4. What skills are important for a career in Application-oriented areas in Optics & Photonics?

A strong foundation in physics, mathematics, and engineering is important for a career in Application-oriented areas in Optics & Photonics. In addition, skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity are essential for developing innovative solutions in this field.

5. How is Optics & Photonics used in everyday life?

Optics & Photonics have a wide range of everyday applications, such as in cameras, smartphones, and LED lighting. They are also used in medical devices, barcode scanners, and sensors for self-driving cars. Additionally, Optics & Photonics play a role in many household items, such as DVD players, computer screens, and fiber optic internet connections.

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