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10 Jobs that Use Lasers

A construction worker at the site using a laser to measure the wall.

Lasers were invented in 1960. Since then, they’ve impacted our lives in numerous ways. There are many careers that involve lasers, from medicine to manufacturing.

Lasers are used to manufacture many of our everyday goods as well. These include food containers, clothing, and electronics. Laser careers are expected to keep growing, making them an excellent career choice.

Medical and Cosmetic Fields 

Lasers have many uses in the medical and cosmetic fields. Careers that use lasers include:

  • Cosmetic laser technician
  • Chiropractor
  • Ophthalmologist

Cosmetic Laser Technician

A cosmetic technician doing laser hair removal on a patient.
  • Education/Training Required: 2 weeks to 12 months
  • Salary: $34,000 average
  • Career outlook: 17% job growth projected

A cosmetic laser technician can perform several different services. These include laser hair removal, tattoo removal, skin tightening, and wrinkle reduction. Essentially, the technician will work with the client to improve their appearance with laser treatment. They are known as skincare specialists.

Education and training requirements for a cosmetic laser technician vary based on job duties and state. Some states require you to obtain an esthetician certification before studying to be a laser tech.

In addition to obtaining a certification or degree, on-the-job training and passing a state exam are usually required.

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Chiropractor 

A chiropractor attending to her patient at the clinic.

Education/Training: 8-13 years

Salary: $65,000 average

Career Outlook: 17% projected job growth

Chiropractors work with the structures of the body, including the spine and joints. In addition to adjustments, they often offer complementary treatments, including laser therapy.

Becoming a chiropractor requires a Ph.D. or Doctorate degree. This typically takes between 4-8 years after completion of a Master’s degree.

If you are interested in laser therapy, you can also choose a related field. These include physical therapists and nurses.

Ophthalmologist

A close look at an ophthalmologist checking a patient's eye.
  • Education/Training: 10 years of college, 3-year residency
  • Salary: $357,000 average
  • Career Outlook: 11% projected job growth

An ophthalmologist is a doctor that specializes in eye conditions. They perform eye surgery, including laser eye surgery.

An ophthalmologist must complete a four-year M.D. program after obtaining a Master’s degree. A 3-year residency in the field is also required.

Engineering Fields 

Engineering fields are in high demand. They are expected to grow by 7% in the next decade. Most engineering careers require a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Engineering jobs that work with lasers include:

  • Electrical Engineer
  • Laser Engineer
  • Optical Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Aerospace Engineer

Electrical/Electronics Engineer

An electronic engineer testing a gadget at the laboratory.
  • Education/Training: 4-6 years
  • Salary: $60,000-$110,000
  • Career Outlook: 4% job growth

The electrical engineering field has many subtypes. Job duties and work environment will vary greatly depending on the specialty you choose.

Essentially, electrical engineers design, develop and test electrical equipment. They may oversee the operation of equipment or make on-site repairs as well.

Electrical engineers develop systems for automobiles, design radar equipment, communications systems, and computer equipment.

A Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering is required for an entry-level position. You can obtain a two-year degree in pre-engineering and begin work in a related field. Some electrical engineering careers require a Master’s degree, and a few require a Doctorate or Ph.D.

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Laser Engineer 

A close look at a laser engineer testing a laser.
  • Education/Training: 4-6 years college
  • Salary: $60,000-$90,000
  • Career Outlook: 4% job growth projected

Laser engineers are a subtype of an electrical engineers. They typically monitor the performance of lasers and make repairs when needed. They need to have a working knowledge of how the laser functions, and how to operate it.

Education varies based on the position. Generally, a Bachelor’s degree is required to be a laser engineer. For some laser engineering jobs, a Master’s degree is required.

Optical Engineer

A close look at an optical engineer working in the laboratory.
  • Education/Training: 4-8 years
  • Salary: $100,000-$180,000
  • Outlook: 1% projected growth

Optical engineers work with the generation, transmission, manipulation, detection, and utilization of light. Essentially, they work with optics and light to solve problems or create devices.

Optics technology is used in a wide variety of applications, including microscopes, telescopes, fiber optics, and nanodevices. Optical science requires a strong knowledge of chemistry, physics, and magnetism.

Optical engineering requires a Bachelor’s degree in engineering. It’s common for higher positions to require a Master’s or Doctorate degree.

Surprisingly, optical engineering experienced a negative growth rate for several years, starting in 2004. Growth is expected to resume at 1%, well below the average rate of 4%.

Mechanical Engineer 

A close look at a mechanical engineer drawing up plans.
  • Education/Training: 4 years
  • Salary: Average salary $90,000
  • Career Outlook: 4% job growth

Mechanical engineers work with mechanical and thermal devices and sensors. They design, develop, build, and test devices.

Generally, mechanical engineering requires a Bachelor’s degree in the field. Mechanical engineers spend most of their time in an office setting, but they do go on-site to troubleshoot, test, or install devices.

Aerospace Engineer

An aerospace engineer checking on the plane engine.
  • Education/Training: 4 years
  • Salary: $118,000
  • Career Outlook: 3% job growth
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Aerospace engineers work with aircraft. They also work with satellites, spacecraft, and missiles. They typically work with design, research and development, and manufacturing. In addition to careers in the private sector, government careers are available in space and defense positions.

A Bachelor’s degree is required to be an aerospace engineer. The industry growth rate is about average, at 3%.

Other Jobs That Use Lasers

Medical and engineering jobs aren’t the only careers that use lasers.

Other jobs that use lasers include:

  • Laser Machine Operator
  • Scientist

Laser Machine Operator

A close look at a modern laser engraving machine being operated.
  • Education/Training: O the job training
  • Salary: $28,000-$49,000
  • Career Outlook: -8%

A laser machine operator works in manufacturing. They run laser machines. Job duties often include laser cutting and welding. These jobs typically require little training. Experience in manufacturing is preferred, but not usually required.

As automation becomes more common, laser machine operator careers are declining. The industry is expected to lose 8% of jobs.

Scientist 

A close look at a scientist working on a laser.
  • Education/Training: 4-6 years
  • Salary: $81,000 average
  • Career Outlook: 15% job growth

Scientists typically have a Bachelor’s degree in a science field. These include biology, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering.

Scientists use laser equipment and other tools to perform laboratory experiments. It’s an excellent career for those with skills in sciences and critical thinking.

Jobs That Use Lasers FAQs

Where does a laser engineer work?

A laser engineer can work in many environments. They may test lasers in a laboratory, or work in a design lab to create lasers. They may also go to facilities to set up, test, or move laser equipment.

How many types of lasers are there?

There are four types of laser. These are Solid-state laser, Gas laser, Liquid laser, and semiconductor laser. There are 1,000s of subtypes, but many are only used for research purposes.

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Are laser beams faster than light?

One of the basic laws of physics states that nothing can travel faster than light in a vacuum. However, a recent experiment has shown that a laser pulse can travel 300 times the speed of light.

How much does a laser tech make?

The average salary for a laser tech is $57,000 a year. Pay can range from $21,000-$150,000 a year, which is a bigger fluctuation than most careers. Most laser technicians will make between $33,000-$60,000 a year.

What is a photonics engineer?

A photonics engineer is another name for a laser engineer. Other names include optical engineer and optical systems engineer.

What color is the strongest laser?

Green is the strongest color. It is 10-50 times brighter than a red laser. They are more easily visible in bright light conditions, and they can travel farther than other colors. They are also more dangerous to humans because green is more easily absorbed by the retina than red. This can cause damage to the eyes if exposed to a green laser beam.