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2012 Optics and Photonics Global Salary Report

Key Findings 

  • The median salary for survey respondents is $73,000,1 with a very wide distribution driven primarily by geographic region and employer type.
  • The factors most associated with higher salaries are North American location and non-university employment.
  • Survey respondents are highly satisfied with their jobs overall: 82% enjoy their work, while 87% find it meaningful.
  • Median salaries are 37% higher for men than for women, with the largest gap at private labs and the smallest gap at civilian government employers.
  • The highest-paid discipline is aerospace, with a median income of $108,500.
SPIE Optics and Photonics Global Salary Report - Survey Responses by Region

SPIE conducted the survey in April and May of 2012. It is the largest survey of its kind in the global optics and photonics community, providing data on the full breadth of employment and compensation patterns across regions, disciplines, and types of organizations.

SPIE sent survey invitations via email to its global database. Over 7,500 valid responses were gathered, with 93% of participants located in North America, Europe, and Asia. Respondents from Latin America/Caribbean, the Middle East, Oceania, and Africa provided the balance of data.

The size and diversity of the sample has increased since last year, with the participant pool up 10% and the number of countries growing from 93 to 101.2 An examination of job satisfaction has been added to the traditional categories of geographic region, professional focus, gender, and employer type. Results for 2012 are generally consistent with 2011, with most regions and countries showing minimal change in median salaries. Complete survey methodology is available at Methodology and Notes.

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