Early Career Professional salaries in optics and photonics: How much do they earn, and what inspires them?
Early Career Professional salaries in optics and photonics
Excitement and curiosity inspire research and innovation from Early Career Professionals (ECPs) in optical engineering, electrical engineering, physics, and other light-focused fields. The average salary for ECPs was $62,244 worldwide in 2019, while the median was $54,198. This table, and all other data on this page, come from the 2020 Optics and Photonics Salary Report.
|25th Percentile||Median||75th Percentile|
|2019 salaries, N=906|
What types of organizations do ECPs work at, and how much are they paid?
Almost half of ECPs work at for-profit companies, where their median salaries are higher than their counterparts at academic or government/military organizations.
|Type of Organization||Percentage of Workers||Median Salary|
What are the most popular roles for ECPs and how much are they paid?
One half of ECPs fill jobs in either applied research or engineering/design, with the engineering/design group receiving the highest median salary at $67,000. Basic researchers/scientists account for 17% or Early Career Professionals and are paid $44,568. ECPs entering the university or education sectors are paid the least, with a median salary of $29,012.
|Job Role||Percentage of Workers||Median Salary|
|Engineering or design||25%||$67,000|
|Basic research or science||17%||$44,568|
|Application or product development||7%||$58,969|
|College professor, teacher, or other educator||7%||$29,012|
|Technical or lab||6%||$51,500|
|Production, manufacturing, or quality assurance||5%||$65,926|
|Project or program management||3%||$56,708|
Are there gender differences in representation and pay?
Gender representation and pay for ECPs follows broader patterns in the optics and photonics community, where women make up 19 percent of the workforce and have lower median salaries. However, the gender pay gap is smaller for ECPs (4.5%) versus the broader community, where the gap is 21%.
|Gender||Percentage of Workers||Median Salary|
Which countries have the highest ECP salaries in optics and photonics?
Early Career Professionals in the United States, Germany, and Japan enjoy the highest salaries. The large gap between the United States and other countries is largely driven by the high percentage of ECPs working at for-profit companies.
|9||Peoples Republic of China||$21,759|
What kinds of engineering degrees are most popular?
More than two-thirds of ECPs are engineers (68%). These engineers are trained in a variety of specialties, including:
• Optical engineering: 24%
• Electrical engineering: 22%
• Mechanical engineering: 12%
• Biomedical engineering: 10%
• Materials engineering: 6%
These results suggest that engineering students can look forward to graduating and entering a specialized field like optical engineering or choose a more general tracks of electrical, mechanical, or software engineering.
For more information on optics and photonics salaries, plus details on methods and sampling, visit the 2020 SPIE Optics and Photonics Global Salary Report.
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