Biomedical Salaries in Optics and Photonics: Engineering Greater Health

Your work in medical imaging, fNIRS, image processing, photonic therapeutics, and other light-based technologies improves healthcare by solving complex technical challenges
26 August 2019
by Adam Resnick

Biomedical Optics Photonics Salary Infographic


Biomedical salaries in optics and photonics
Biomedical engineers and scientists improve human health by solving complex technical challenges. The average salary for biomedical workers in optics and photonics was $84,306 worldwide in 2018. This table, and all other data on this page, comes from the 2019 Optics and Photonics Salary Report.

25th Percentile Median 75th Percentile
$30,000 $62,710 $114,018


How do earnings of new graduates compare to biomedical veterans?
Biomedical starting salaries are well below the overall median but rise quickly as employees gain experience. Pay rises at each level of seniority, and the pattern suggests solid gains in earnings over the course of a long career.

Years Employed Median Salary 2018
Less than one year $35,000
1-2 years $49,000
3-5 years $50,000
6-10 years $53,743
11-15 years $52,377
16-20 years $71,821
21-25 years $89,066
26-30 years $107,000
More than 30 years $114,009


What are the highest-paid job levels in biomedical optics and photonics?
Unsurprisingly, senior executives, vice-presidents, and directors are paid the highest, while academic positions fall lower on the scale.

Rank Job level Median Salary
1 C-level or senior executive $212,500
2 Vice-president $177,000
3 Director $159,625
4 Supervisor or manager $105,500
5 Lead or senior level $96,915
6 Full professor $86,083
7 Staff $69,394
8 Assistant professor $57,009
9 Associate professor $51,093
10 Postdoc $47,484
11 Technician, operator, or lab tech $46,000


Are there gender differences in representation and pay?
Gender representation and pay for biomedical workers mirrors broader patterns in the optics and photonics community, where women make up 19 percent of the workforce, and have lower median salaries. Most biomedical workers are men (78%) and median salaries are higher for male biomedical workers.

Gender Percentage of Workers Median Salary
Male 78% $65,000
Female 22% $52,780


Which countries have the highest biomedical salaries in optics and photonics?
Biomedical engineers and scientists in Israel, Switzerland, and the United States enjoy the highest salaries.

   •  Israel: $147,095
   •  Switzerland: $141,711
   •  United States: $107,000

What kinds of engineering degrees are most popular?
Almost two thirds of optics and photonics biomedical workers are engineers (60%). These engineers are trained in a variety of specialties, including:

   •  Biomedical engineering: 33%
   •  Optical engineering: 33%
   •  Electrical engineering: 11%
   •  Mechanical engineering: 6%
   •  Software engineering: 4%
   •  Computer engineering: 4%

These results suggest that engineering students interested in biomedical optics and photonics can achieve success with specialized training in optics or biomedical, or through more general tracks such as electrical, mechanical, or software engineering.


For more information on optics and photonics salaries, plus details on methods and sampling, visit the 2019 SPIE Optics and Photonics Global Salary Report.


Want to know more?
Get similar news sent monthly to your inbox
Get more news from SPIE
Recent News
Sign in to read the full article
Create a free SPIE account to get access to
premium articles and original research