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Photonics Engineer

Photonics engineers research, design, develop, test, manufacture and maintain systems and products that use photonics technology such as lasers and fiber optics.

Also Known As

Optical Engineer, Photonics Specialist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 2148: Other Professional Engineers, n.e.c.

2006 NOC-S

  • C048: Other Professional Engineers, n.e.c.

2011 NOC

  • 2148: Other professional engineers, n.e.c.

2016 NOC

  • 2148: Other professional engineers, n.e.c.

2021 NOC

  • 21399: Other professional engineers
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Photonics is the science of generating, transmitting, amplifying and detecting light. Photonics technology includes lasers, fiber optics, macroscopic and microscopic imaging and a wide variety of other applications. This technology is used in telecommunications, medicine, manufacturing, robotics, solar power and more.

Photonics engineers:

  • Work with clients to determine requirements for photonics technology and products
  • Design and develop products based on photonics technologies
  • Install photonics equipment
  • Test and monitor photonics equipment
  • Maintain and repair photonics equipment
  • Operate photonics equipment
  • Keep records and prepare reports
  • Stay up to date with the latest photonics technology
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 05, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Photonics engineers usually work a standard 40-hour week in an office environment or a laboratory. Some travel may be required when developing, installing or maintaining equipment for clients in their factories or laboratories. Photonics engineers may be required to lift or move objects or equipment that weigh up to 20 kilograms.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Photonics engineers need the following characteristics:

  • Strong mathematics and science skills
  • Strong computer skills
  • To follow instructions and plans and work to exact specifications
  • Very strong attention to detail
  • To think creatively
  • To work well both alone and as part of a team
  • Strong communication skills

Photonics engineers should enjoy working with cutting-edge technology and designing, developing and testing new products and equipment.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 05, 2021
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

Photonics engineers must have a four-year degree in science or engineering. Specialized courses in photonics are a benefit, but are not a necessity. Photonics engineers may enter the field of photonics with an educational background in such disciplines as physics, chemistry, biology, optical engineering, electrical engineering or other related areas. A doctoral degree in science or engineering is generally required for a career in university teaching or research.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
University of Lethbridge

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 05, 2021
  • Certification Provincially Regulated


Professional engineers design, construct, evaluate, advise, monitor, and report on the performance of materials, equipment, systems, works, processes, and structures.


Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf] and Engineering and Geoscience Professions General Regulation [pdf], you must register as a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a Professional Engineer or engage in the practice of engineering.

You do not have to register if you work under the direct supervision of a professional engineer and do not call yourself a Professional Engineer or use the word “engineer” in your job title.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Engineer.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Photonics engineers may be employed by:

  • Engineering and consulting firms
  • Telecommunications firms
  • Manufacturing companies
  • Energy production and distribution companies
  • Universities

Because photonics engineers often work in a multidisciplinary environment, they acquire knowledge and skills through work experience that may allow them to move into associated areas of science, engineering, sales, marketing or management.

Most photonics engineers begin as assistants to experienced engineers. As they gain experience, they may become supervisors or specialize in a particular aspect of laser or fiber optics technology. Some engineers advance to management positions. A few engineers with the necessary education can become research directors or principal engineers. Engineers may also advance by starting their own consulting or manufacturing companies.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2148: Other professional engineers, n.e.c. occupational group, 81.9% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2148: Other professional engineers, n.e.c. occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.7% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 87 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 05, 2021

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Other professional engineers, n.e.c.

2016 NOC: 2148
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2148 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $25.96 $76.92 $40.44 $39.28
Overall $28.85 $82.16 $53.02 $57.96
Top $38.46 $96.94 $65.94 $63.46

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 05, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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