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Application-oriented areas in Optics & Photonics

  1. Oct 8, 2013 #1
    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.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 9, 2013 #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).
  4. Oct 10, 2013 #3
    Thank you sus4. I was never aware of that filed. Will surely look into it.

    Any one else has other experience/knowledge/insights?
  5. Oct 10, 2013 #4
    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.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
  6. Oct 10, 2013 #5


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    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?
  7. Oct 11, 2013 #6
    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.
  8. Oct 16, 2013 #7
    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?
  9. Oct 20, 2013 #8
    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.
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