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In Brief...

Designs technologies that specialise in light information or light energy, such as laser or fibre optics technology.


  • Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Physics Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.


  • Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

In Summary - Photonics Engineer

Career Sectors

Photonics Engineers typically work in the following Career Sectors:

Electrical & Electronic Engineering
Engineering & Manufacturing
Physics, Mathematics & Space Science

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The Work - Photonics Engineer

Photonics engineers are concerned with modulating light sources and controlling the light's wavelength, intensity, and duration. Engineers working in the laser and fibre optics field, design and modify laser equipment or components and may direct the testing of laser systems. They also use lasers for a variety of useful applications in fields such as telecommunications, medicine and construction industries.

Engineers who work with photonics spend much of their time researching new developments within their field. The field of photonics is growing rapidly, with many new discoveries being made every day. Photonics engineers must keep up to date with the findings in the research of other engineers. High-volume telecommunications firms as well as fibre optics manufacturing companies are the largest photonics engineer employers.

Certain photonics engineers are employed strictly to refine optical fibre purity, because impure optical fibres can be very inefficient and contribute to energy loss.

Most commonly reported Work Tasks

  • Design, integrate, or test photonics systems or components.
  • Develop optical or imaging systems, such as optical imaging products, optical components, image processes, signal process technologies, or optical systems.
  • Analyze system performance or operational requirements.
  • Write reports or research proposals.
  • Assist in the transition of photonic prototypes to production.
  • Develop or test photonic prototypes or models.
  • Conduct testing to determine functionality or optimization or to establish limits of photonics systems or components.
  • Design electro-optical sensing or imaging systems.
  • Read current literature, talk with colleagues, continue education, or participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in the field.
  • Conduct research on new photonics technologies.

Most commonly reported Work Activities

  • Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

Interests - Photonics Engineer

This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:


The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.


Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.


Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be atrracted to the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design activities, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.

Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.


Photonics engineers must be able to work within a team but also independently.

Meticulous attention to detail is essential and also an interest in solving problems.

Excellent communication skills are critical in order for photonics engineers to present information clearly and accurately.

Good eye sight is essential as photonics engineers must be able to see things clearly both up close and far away. Photonic engineers must also not be colour blind.

It is essential for photonics engineers to be creative and innovative as they must design different state of the art laser products.

Entry Requirements - Photonics Engineer

Photonics engineers typically come from a background in electronic engineering or physics. Relevant level 8 degree courses are available from a range of universities and ITs. However, most topics in Photonics are not covered at undergraduate level education so post graduate study may be necessary to progress within this career.

University College Cork provide a one year postgraduate M. Sc in Photonics, in conjunction with Tyndall National Institute - see This course will also provide a foundation for undertaking a Ph.D focusing on photonics.

Individual companies may also provide internal training for engineering employees to specialise in the area of photonics.

Last Updated: October, 2014

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