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styropyro

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Now that I'm almost 18 and I have one more year left of High School, I have to put more thought in to my future occupation and would love some input from people here that work with lasers for a living. I've been leaning towards something in the medical field, but before I take the plunge I would like to consider a job with lasers because I enjoy them so much, and lasers are actually my current source of income (YouTube). I know I have a lot to learn and what we do in hobby lasers is nothing compared to what is done in a professional job, but it would be awesome to be a real expert in the subject. So for people here that work with lasers:

Do you like your job? What exactly do you do?

How much schooling have you had? Do you think it was worth it?

Are you happy with your pay?

I really don't know what to ask because my knowledge of lasers is so little, but if you could fill me in on your job, that would be awesome!

As far as my schooling, I go to a small High School with a limited number of classes (except a wide range of Ag classes :D ) and no honors classes, but next year I will be taking Physics and Pre-Calculus so I can get a brief intro of what I'll be working with. So far my science and math classes have been very easy to me so I think I can handle these harder classes. As far as testing scores and grades, I got a 33 on my ACT (35 in science), but my grades are A's and B's because I can get lazy in doing homework, especially with sports.

So any info on your job and what for me to expect would be awesome! Thanks in advance for any help.
 

Grix

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Sorry for OT, but do you mind if I ask how much you earn on your youtube channel? :p
 

styropyro

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Averages to about $x a year, month to month can vary a lot. Not much, but is really helpful when I have sports and can't have a job. It took a long time to finally get my videos to get some real views!

Edit: I don't think I can talk about pay under Google's contract. :(
 
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Don't do it! Just say no!


Nah, just kidding. :eg: So let's see...


Now that I'm almost 18 and I have one more year left of High School, I have to put more thought in to my future occupation and would love some input
Good Idea.

from people here that work with lasers for a living.
Check.

I've been leaning towards something in the medical field, but before I take the plunge I would like to consider a job with lasers because I enjoy them so much, and lasers are actually my current source of income (YouTube). I know I have a lot to learn and what we do in hobby lasers is nothing compared to what is done in a professional job, but it would be awesome to be a real expert in the subject. So for people here that work with lasers:
Interesting. What are you thinking about in the medical field? Actual med school, pharmacy school, nursing, research?

I definitely recommend doing something you love, to an extent, and it certainly helps when "something you love" is also a well-compensated and well-respected field. Doing what you love in college can screw you later if you're majoring in philosophy or something else like that. It's convenient if you love an engineering or science area, and can make a good career in a field you love.

Do you like your job? What exactly do you do?

How much schooling have you had? Do you think it was worth it?

Are you happy with your pay?
I'll take these together.

I do like my job, in fact I love it 90% of the time. I hate it when I'm at work in the cleanroom after midnight, but besides crappy hours, it's awesome.

So my hours suck because I'm still in grad school (which also answers the schooling questions). I'm working on my Ph.D in materials science, and I'm 2 years into the program. I started on the Ph.D straight out of my bachelors degree in materials science and engineering. To be more precise, I have the best grad school position that I could possibly think of for me. I work on semiconductors in a group that focuses on optoelectronic semiconductors, specifically we're almost entirely working on gallium nitride-based materials. My research centers on the fabrication of gallium nitride laser diodes, which encompasses violet, blue, green, and UV laser diodes. Others in my group work on LEDs, others on solar cells, a few on thermoelectrics, and some on some on transistors, but all based on gallium nitride. Literally the best possible place for me to be, based on my preferences, in the entire country.

Grad school in the applied sciences/engineering is a thing of beauty. If you're in a field that is funded (like materials science is at top schools, but also field like electrical engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical, etc.), then you generally don't pay to go to school. Instead, they pay YOU to go to school, in exchange for doing research and doing lab work, and the research that you are paid to do becomes your thesis/dissertation. In the program I'm in, if you get accepted, they pay all your tuition and fees, medical insurance, and then pay a stipend of $26k a year on top of paying all your tuition and fees. So in exchange, you're expected to work something approximating a full time job doing research, while attending school, but being a grad student means you end up taking odd hours and all those other typical grad student experiences.

So with my degree, a Ph.D in materials science with a focus on semiconductors, I'll be employable by most any semiconductor manufacturing company anywhere. I do love working with laser diodes though, so I'll probably lean towards trying to stay in that, but it's a small field. It'll be a lot more likely to get work on LEDs, which is a much larger field, but the idea is that I'll still be employable working on any semiconductors. A friend of mine just graduated, and even in the down economy had 2 offers of over $80k when he finished, with room for growth in both jobs. And since it's a well-funded field, you finish school with no debt like some other degrees.

I really don't know what to ask because my knowledge of lasers is so little, but if you could fill me in on your job, that would be awesome!
We all start somewhere.

So it's REALLY hard to see where it is you might want to go from where you're sitting now. For instance, you have at least 5 levels of math classes to go before you get to where I'm sitting, if grad school in a science is something you're interested in. For me, it was hard to imagine what that kind of a jump is even like, much less plan if I really wanted to do it.

But I knew I liked science, so I picked a field that was very science heavy and still very broad, so I was flexible. I went to college, took the first couple of classes in the subject area, and loved it, so I stuck with it. But don't be afraid to change majors in college. I don't recommend doing it too many times, or it'll take you forever to finish, but don't be afraid of the change. Many colleges will have survey courses to get a feel of what the major actually does.

Another thing with lasers: for many professions, the laser is not the profession, the laser is simply one tool that is used. Fewer professions can really say "I'm a laser professional", but MANY can say "I use lasers in the process of carrying out my job". They're used everywhere, and I'm sure you'll get some answers on such jobs on this thread.

As far as my schooling, I go to a small High School with a limited number of classes (except a wide range of Ag classes :D ) and no honors classes, but next year I will be taking Physics and Pre-Calculus so I can get a brief intro of what I'll be working with. So far my science and math classes have been very easy to me so I think I can handle these harder classes. As far as testing scores and grades, I got a 33 on my ACT (35 in science), but my grades are A's and B's because I can get lazy in doing homework, especially with sports.
That all sounds fine. Each step is about the next one, and doing well enough to get you on towards the next step. A good senior year is a spring board into college, but don't kill yourself over getting into your first choice school. I didn't get into my first-choice undergrad school, but my second-choice undergrad school (which was also much cheaper, better in the long run) still got me into my first choice grad school. And each step is a new start. Grad schools and employers don't care about your high school once you have a college degree. So make the best of the fresh start. But the first year in college is a good time to get your GPA and keep it up with all the intro freshman classes, good for padding against later harder classes sometimes.

So any info on your job and what for me to expect would be awesome! Thanks in advance for any help.
No problem, hope it helped a little bit. Grad school is definitely not for everyone, but don't be scared of it as I used to be. It took me meeting and getting to know many grad students before I realized it wasn't some mythical, terrible beast to be feared.
 

LazyBeam

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Work for L3 Communications. They do quite alot with lasers as far as systems integration and practical application of laser technology - especially as a defense contractor.

I'd tell you more... but then I'd have to kill you. :p

Look into an engineering degree (mechanical or electrical) with a minor in Material Science.
Biomedical engineering (mech-e with extra biology classes) with a sequence in EE & mat'l science could be good too.
A sequnce is like a mini-minor so you can take more than sequence instead of one minor.
A physics major would definately expose you to lasers too... but to make a living with a "Physics degree" you have to plan to get a masters.
 
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Ash

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Well. You may not want to major in something related to Lasers, and chose now that you want that career.

I went straifht to Cal Poly after High School, tried Electrical Engineering as a major (also had an internship [mid-90's] making 5mW red laser pointers), but I didn't like it.
Changed my major to something I really liked a few years later (Geology), and now I have a great career helping to clean up the environment.
I keep lasers a hobby, because when one of your hobbies becomes a "job", it almost always takes the fun out of it. :(
 

Arayan

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I keep lasers a hobby, because when one of your hobbies becomes a "job", it almost always takes the fun out of it.
I disagree about this... I love my job which first was my hobby :san:
 

Ash

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Hence the "almost always". Err...
Maybe it should have been "sometimes". :eek:
Well, I'll have to admit, that even though Geology is my job, I still have a serious rock/mineral collection/hobby.
 

Arayan

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Hence the "almost always". Err...
Maybe it should have been "sometimes". :eek:
Well, I'll have to admit, that even though Geology is my job, I still have a serious rock/mineral collection/hobby.
No no you're right... almost always ;) :D
 

Gryphon

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Dude I've got to get into you tube if it pays like that !
I believe your vids have to consistently reach a set number of views, or
something like that. I got offered something like that by YT asking if they
could puts ads on my vid or something of that nature, but i turned it down.
Maybe Styropyro could shed some more light on this, i don't remember much
about it.
 
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This is a wonderful thread that you started Styropyro!!!!! +1!!!!

I am in undergrad college right now going for Mechanical Engineering, and since I found this amazing hobby, I am really trying to make it into a career, or work with lasers in my career. And even through searching, I am not finding many fruitful results.

So, thank you to pullbangdead and others for posting and giving us younger kids some ideas on what there is out there for us to look into for our futures!!!!!
 
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CREOL, The College of Optics & Photonics at the University of Central Florida

I plan on attending UCF for a degree in laser system design and engineering, and hopefully getting a job at Coherent. They have one of the best laser programs in the world :san:
What are you planning on doing for your undergrad degree?

Also, planning a career based on getting a job at a specific company is a tough thing to do. You never know what's going to happen, flexibility is a good thing at times.
 
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I wanted to work with lasers and holography so went for technical training as what's now called a photonics technician. Then it was Laser & Electro-Optics Technician, with an A.S. degree. Work building lasers and systems that incorporated them was always easy work. Pay was top of the technician scale, but more interest in computers and motion control would've made me waaay more marketable. I was too much into being the starving artist. Entrepreneurial opportunities were many and a few could've set me up for life but they slipped away.

Now I'm working for a guy who DID cash in big time (in the VR hype of the '80s) as his technical n****r. The money's good, but I consider the job to be tolerating his ignorant insults and arrogance. Vacation is when I'm doing what I do for him, which is building optical systems to make and use some of the most advanced hologram optical elements there are. You get what you aim for. Take your time, aim well.

When you do what you love professionally, you need to get another hobby.
 




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