Optical Engineering job pay?

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  • Thread starter jbrussell93
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  • #1
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I'm a senior in high school who is still trying to figure out what I'm going to do with the next few years of my life. Early on, I was planning on going for the all to frequently debated PhD in physics until I realized I would like to keep my sanity not to mention get a job. I just recently discovered my interest in optics. It's probably because it involves a fair amount of physics. I haven't quite figured out what path of optical engineering interests me most but probably something involving telescopes because I enjoy astronomy but who doesn't nowadays? I am considering two paths for my undergrad degree: Either EE and emphasize in optics or Engineering Physics and emphasize in either optical physics or optical engineering. I don't know if it is be better to have more physics or more Electrical Engineering (as in which would be more applicable). Which of these would better prepare me for grad school in optical engineering? Would an MS in optical engineering or optical physics be best job/pay wise (is that a dumb question?)? Also, what would optical engineering involving telescopes be classified as and how could I prepare for that as an undergrad. I'm also just interested in the field in general and would like to know more about different emphasis of the field.
 

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  • #2
Personally, I chose physics over EE because I was originally more inclined to be curious about nature, than to build electrical circuits. The optics part, your plan A, you will get in either field.

Your plan B, would it be teaching, finance, or designing hardware and circuitry?

If you like astrophysics, you may miss it if you choose engineering.
 
  • #3
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Thanks for the advice. I definitely understand what you mean about building electrical circuits and whatnot but from what I've read, there is more to optical eng than just that. I've always been more interested in the how and why of things but the chances of that getting me a good job is much lower than engineering. I enjoy problem solving and I figured the amount of physics involved in optics would be enough to keep me intellectually entertained. Though, you are probably right about me missing astrophysics. I figure I can always study it on my own or minor in physics even if I don't get to contribute as a physicist.

To answer your question about "Plan B" it would be designing hardware and circuitry. (most hands-on/applicable)
 
  • #4
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Also, I guess I could always try and do both. Would a double major in EE (optical) and physics be beneficial as far as employment? Is it worth the extra work?
 
  • #5
Andy Resnick
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I'm a senior in high school who is still trying to figure out what I'm going to do with the next few years of my life. Early on, I was planning on going for the all to frequently debated PhD in physics until I realized I would like to keep my sanity not to mention get a job. I just recently discovered my interest in optics. It's probably because it involves a fair amount of physics. I haven't quite figured out what path of optical engineering interests me most but probably something involving telescopes because I enjoy astronomy but who doesn't nowadays? I am considering two paths for my undergrad degree: Either EE and emphasize in optics or Engineering Physics and emphasize in either optical physics or optical engineering. I don't know if it is be better to have more physics or more Electrical Engineering (as in which would be more applicable). Which of these would better prepare me for grad school in optical engineering? Would an MS in optical engineering or optical physics be best job/pay wise (is that a dumb question?)? Also, what would optical engineering involving telescopes be classified as and how could I prepare for that as an undergrad. I'm also just interested in the field in general and would like to know more about different emphasis of the field.
You are asking very broad questions, so it's tough to give specific answers. Designing a telescope, for example, is a huge undertaking involving lots of different engineers and scientists. It is true that most leading-edge remote sensing jobs involve classified work, but there's plenty of non-classified work as well.

In terms of a specific program- it depends on the institution. There are Physics departments with good optics programs, and there are EE departments with good optics programs- and the faculty often have cross-appointments. Regardless, a good undergraduate program should prepare you for graduate study.
 

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