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Old 10-14-2012, 02:46 AM #1
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Question Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

Hello everyone,

I have had a hard time deciding "what I want to do when I grow up" and as a result have seen years of school wasted. And I got to thinking....I am pretty obsessed with lasers, I'm good at physics so WHAT IF.....I could get a job related to lasers.

Now, I am currently doing research online but a lot of it is coming up as like:
1. Medical Laser Technician
2. Laser Cutter/Welder
3. Defense Work

So I thought to myself....where could I find someone who knows a lot about lasers who might know of careers that don't sound as unrelated to lasers as you could get while still having them involved. And thats when it hit me....YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!!

So, what sort of Careers or College Majors involve a heavy dose of the Coherent Light we have all come to love? I want an excuse for being this obsessed.

Thanks,
Isaac


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Old 10-14-2012, 04:41 AM #2
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

In the industry it's called Photonics instead of lasers, try to see if that helps with your google searches
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:42 AM #3
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

I wouldn't call it photonics. Photonics is a buzzword, and has more to do with optical technology at the device level, like integrated optics, etc.--stuff you design, not just use for something else.

Wannaburnstuff is describing stuff at the technician level. The difference between an electrical engineer and an electrician. Photonics is the former; "laser tooling" or something like that is the latter.

If you want to build photonic devices you need to become an electrical or material science engineer. If you just want to use lasers, you'll just have to research what fields happen to use lasers in them.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:53 AM #4
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

I'd probably consider taking on electrical engineering to get into that area, then again courses here vs the US are a _lot_ broader, so it really depends on what's available to you.

"Lasers" is a broad area, like you've discovered. Do you want to be inventing new lasers, using them in your work, building them, testing them etc etc.

If there is not a direct optoelectronics course available, I'd look at either chemistry or electrical engineering depending on what you actually want to do with them.
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Old 10-14-2012, 03:24 PM #5
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

Thanks for all the responses! So far the only things I have found directly related to lasers is something called Laser Electro-Optics and its just an associates degree. I'll check into electrical engineering.
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Old 10-14-2012, 06:31 PM #6
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

Why would you want that ?
If you really like lasers, you can have part time job that includes laser, such as building and selling, maybe start your own company.
I would suggest you find a job that will make you stand on your feet first, then you can think about your hobby and how you can make money out of it or doing it more.
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Old 10-15-2012, 02:47 AM #7
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

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If you really like lasers, you can have part time job that includes laser, such as building and selling, maybe start your own company..
Good luck starting a business building and selling lasers. Only way you can get anywhere with that is if you start doing full on lasershows too. There is almost certainly no market for laser pointers that'll sustain a US-based business, especially considering anything over 5mW is illegal.

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Old 10-16-2012, 01:34 AM #8
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

here is a school here in Texas. I believe its close to austin ~20miles or so. Its formally known as TSTC. Now it's tsti Texas state technical institute. My friends dad went there, I considered going but I myself am unsure of where I want to go. He told me back when he was going they offered classes that had to do with lasers. Look into it, I think I saw they still do opto-electronics work
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:56 AM #9
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

Ya, thats what I was looking at for a bit. It would result in an Associates degree in Laser Electro-Optics. I am thinking a bachelors degree would be better for me to complete though.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:53 PM #10
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

Just go to EE. There are many choices for universities that offer great EE programs. From there, you can apply to graduate schools where you can then specialize in fields of optics and photonics. Check out UCF has an excellent grad school called Creol. They take physics degrees and EE degrees to begin the program. Also, mind your grades in undergrad. Many more grad schools like these will open their doors to you if you have the higher grades of the bunch.

Also consider doing research. There are many opportunities for research on research oriented campuses.

For example: Right now I'm at UNL. My major is EE, and I have chosen a set a course work that will emphasize a specialty in circuits and electronics, electromagnetics and optics, and materials and devices. My part time job is research work with lasers on campus (or shall I say "under" the campus"?) for a research professor.

You could be doing the very same thing at my school if you were in physics instead, just under a different set of courses and professors.

Optics is the science closely related to E&M field theory which is satisfied with waves. Photonics is the science more associated with light quanta on the molecular scale of things, and is also closely tied to material science.

I would say chemistry is not the best route to this sort of career unless you plan on being a chemist doing research. Mathematics is a stronger route to get there. All in all, a 2 year program will leave you with applied technical skills, a 4 year program will give you an excellent knowledge base but will not be directly related to optics (VERY few BS optics programs out there), and 2-4 additional years after a BS will get you a masters which you can use to apply for some very tough careers in the field.

Just start with EE.

Its the bridge between straight physics and electromagnetics. You use maxwell's equations to move from physics to EE, and you can use them again to move to E&M field theory.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:43 PM #11
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

I'm with Meatball

EE if the way for sure. Luckily, my school (MTU) actually has a photonics focus that takes the place of gen-ed classes your last two years, so I'll have a headstart going into grad school. But yeah, if you want to really work with lasers a 2 year degree may not cut it. At least not to the level you like
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:25 AM #12
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

Ya, I have a plan now. I am going to use the Community College near my house to accrue the majority of the credits for a Electrical Engineering Bachelor's Degree. Then for my last year I will transfer to a better school. Even if I don't end up going to Grad School, I can make enough money to live comfortably. (and do laser stuff on the side)

Thanks for all the advice everyone!
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:38 AM #13
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

The best of luck to you!
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Old 10-18-2012, 02:29 AM #14
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

Make sure the credits from your community college are actually transferable to whatever other school you intend on attending for the degree. My friend got screwed because a substantial amount of CC credits were not accepted at the university. There's little incentive for the university to accept such credits.

Apply for all those Pell grants and other stuff too, and keep your grades up in the mean time for scholarships.
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Old 10-18-2012, 04:30 AM #15
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

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Make sure the credits from your community college are actually transferable to whatever other school you intend on attending for the degree. My friend got screwed because a substantial amount of CC credits were not accepted at the university. There's little incentive for the university to accept such credits.

Apply for all those Pell grants and other stuff too, and keep your grades up in the mean time for scholarships.
Good advice. You will have to get the advising staff from BOTH schools to confirm this before you should pick a school. It would also help to have a transfer school picked out so that you have reason to continue your goal when things get tough (and they will).

Focus on those math grades if you have to sacrifice time in one class over another, don't drop the math.

Let us know what you come up with for your plans!

And remember that plans rarely stay the same.
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:17 PM #16
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Default Re: Looking for a Career in Lasers....need advice!

like evryone else said go for a ee degree and then look in to optics, you might be intrested in microprocessing and all the tools and elements involved in that. i currently work in a cleanroom on a nikon stepper tool its a 30w laser expose system that takes part in developing a immage on a silicone wafer. all day i troubleshoot and play around with these tools and im sorrunded by endless electronics and parts, most fun! theres alot to do with lasers everywhere you just have to find the specific field. ee and optics is the way to go, but hey you might find somethign else along the way.
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