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Photonics pros love their work, new SPIE survey shows

Respect for peers, meaningful work contribute to job satisfaction



14 August 2013

2013 Optics and Photonics Global Salary ReportBELLLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- A full 85% of respondents report high job satisfaction in a major new salary survey of the global optics and photonics community conducted by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics - and the trend holds in regions of varying pay ranges as well as varying work-week lengths.

Results released this week for the survey, the largest such international study of the industry, update results from similar surveys in 2011 and 2012.

Among continuing trends, aerospace, with a median annual income of $113,500, remains the highest-paid sector, while the gender gap is still in play. Median salaries are 36% overall higher for men than women, with the largest gap occurring in mid-career.

"Overall, these are jobs that not only pay well but also yield quality-of-life satisfactions and the ability to make a difference. In addition to enjoying their own work, optics and photonics professionals overwhelming - by 90% --say they respect the work of their peers," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "The stability in strong salary levels as compared to levels across all jobs reflects the continuing strength of the optics and photonics sector and the high value that these jobs contribute to the economy."

Arthurs stressed the need for the industry to continue to work toward gender pay equity. "The forward-looking photonics sector needs to move beyond the historical injustice in this," he said. "Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, has rightly characterized achieving gender equality as a legal, economic and moral imperative. Photonics R&D is necessary for solving the many challenges the world faces in energy supplies, effective healthcare, communications networks, and other areas. We cannot afford to continue to discourage 51% of the next generation from working to help find these vital solutions."

In the SPIE survey, Swiss, Australian and Canadian respondents enjoyed a combination of top pay and moderate workload. These countries are three of the top four in median salary, with fewer than 10% of respondents working more than 55 hours per week.

The survey did not demonstrate a correlation between job satisfaction and either salary or hours on the job. Israelis and Portuguese were tied at the top of the job satisfaction scale, with 94% saying they enjoy their work, yet Israel's median salary is twice that of Portugal, and Israel matches Romania in reporting the highest percentage of workers who say they spend 55 hours or more on the job each week. Close behind, 39% of workers in higher-income Asia said they work 50 or more hours per week.

Respondents in lower-income Asia were the most optimistic about pay hikes in the near term, with 91% saying they expect to receive raises in 2014.

Median salaries -- at $76,000 -- were 4% higher than last year, with differences primarily driven by country income level and employer type.

See the survey results at www.spie.org/salary.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves more than 235,000 constituents from approximately 155 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided over $3.2 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2012.

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Media contact:
Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager, SPIE
+1 360 685 5478
amy@spie.org
@SPIEtweets