Salary Survey

SPIE survey shows happy, hard-working, and highly paid workers in photonics.

01 January 2014

Workers in astronomy and astrophysics are the happiest of all photonics professionals, and those who describe their field as physics and semiconductor are among the hardest working employees, according to data in the most recent SPIE salary survey of the global optics and photonics community

Job satisfaction is high among a full 85% of respondents in the survey, with 89% in astronomy and astrophysics saying they enjoy their work.

Survey results released in August 2013 update results from similar surveys in 2011 and 2012 and form the largest such international study of the industry.

Answers in the table below are extracted from the SPIE Global Salary Survey, the largest survey of its kind in the optics and photonics community.

The most highly paid workers are in the aerospace field, with median earnings at $113,500, followed by those in the semiconductor industry, whose median earnings are $104,018.

Over 6,500 people from 103 countries participated in the 2013 survey, sponsored by the SPIE Career Center.

Other key findings of the survey for workers in specific regions are:

  • Switzerland offers the highest median salary: $127,073.
  • Ukraine has the lowest median salary: $8,125.
  • Optics and photonics professionals in the civil and environmental fields have the lowest median salary: $44,510.
  • Israelis and Portuguese tied for high job satisfaction, with 94% reporting work enjoyment.
  • Israelis and Romanians have the longest work weeks, with 23% reporting they work 55 hours or more per week.

Interested in more data on salaries, workload, satisfaction, and related topics? Download the SPIE 2013 Optics and Photonics Global Salary Report at

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