What is a Laser Technology Degree?

A laser is an unusual light source. The letters in the word laser stand for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. A laser produces a very narrow, very bright beam of light that can be focused into a very tiny spot and concentrate a lot of energy on a very small area. Because of these properties, lasers have many uses.

In medicine, they are used for blade-free, bloodless surgery and medical device fabrication. In telecommunications, they send information over large distances with low loss. In industry, they are used to cut glass and quartz and collect information from product bar codes. In science and technology, they help to count the number of atoms in a substance and retrieve stored information from a compact disc (CD). In the military, laser range finders are used to determine the distance to an object.

Degree programs in laser technology explore optics and photonics technology, which involves the practical application of light, optics, and electronics in these and other fields. They produce the next generation of laser technicians, who will make, test, and operate systems that perform tasks with lasers.

Program Options

Certificate in Laser Technology – Varying Durations up to One Year
Certificate programs teach only subjects in the major. They are focused exclusively on the various aspects of laser technology and do not include any general education classes. These programs are typically targeted at those already employed in the field who wish to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Associate Degree in Laser Technology – Two Year Duration
This is the most common credential held by practising laser technicians. Laser technology associate programs typically combine courses in the major with some liberal arts classes in subjects such as English composition, math, and the social sciences. Non-classroom components such as labs and industry tours are considerably more extensive at the associate level than at the certificate level.

Despite the differences described above, courses like the following are at the heart of both of these programs:

  • Engineering Graphics with SolidWorks with Lab – instruction in the feature-based solid modeling system called SolidWorks; overview of SolidWorks’ computer aided design software sketching environment, where students learn to create 2D objects such as lines and arcs and add definition to the sketch including numerical dimensions and geometric relationships
  • Electronics for Technicians 1 with Lab – introduction to the principles of electricity and electronics; topics include current, voltage, resistance, series and parallel circuits, schematic diagram reading, open and short circuits, magnetism, capacitance, relays, solenoids, motors and generators, and DC and AC signals; emphasis will be on the practical application of basic principles to modern systems and the techniques used to diagnose them; development of skills to use standard electronic test equipment to aid in the diagnosis of simple and complex electrical and electronic systems
  • Lab and Laser Safety – electrical and laser safety in laboratory settings and industry; students will learn to recognize, evaluate, and control for (1) electrical hazards as recommended by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Guide to Electrical Safety and Health for the Electrical Trades and (2) laser hazards as recommended by the Laser Institute of America’s (LIA) Safe Use of Lasers
  • Introduction to Optics and Photonics – introduction to the field of optics and photonics and possible applications and career opportunities; students will learn about optics, lasers, fiber optics, electro-optics, and photonics by drawing from the latest cutting edge applications in precision manufacturing, aerospace, biomedical device, medicine, 3D sensing, display technology, communications, astronomy, and many others; classroom lectures will be supplemented with demonstrations, hands-on activities, independent research projects, company tours, and guest speakers
  • Introduction to Engineering Technology with Lab – discussion of the role that an engineering technologist plays in developing and manufacturing a world-class product; emphasis will be on use of computer application software to solve problems in engineering technology
  • Geometric Optics with Lab – basic optical theory and components; geometric optics deals with the rectilinear propagation (travel in a straight line) of light and the elementary treatment of image formation, lenses, mirrors, prisms, fiber optics, ray tracing aberrations, optical system design, and optical instruments
  • Electronics for Technicians 2 with Lab– introduction to the principles of embedded controllers, smart sensors, and process control systems, which are at the heart of modern electronic and electro-mechanical systems found in fields such as automotive, HVAC, medical instrumentation equipment, remote monitoring (such as weather and utility infrastructure), consumer / commercial / industrial electronics, high tech manufacturing processes, and anywhere sensors and data acquisition are required; students will study complete systems including sensors, programmable interface controllers or PICs (electronic circuits that can be programmed to carry out a vast range of tasks), motors, relays, actuators, indicators, and display devices; emphasis will be on how the different components of the system connect and communicate; students will build, test, and troubleshoot various PIC based sensor and actuator systems
  • Fiber Optic Technology and Applications with Lab – the principles of fiber optic technology and its applications; students will gain theoretical and hands-on experience with fiber optic components, test and measurement equipment, splicing, and termination; classroom and laboratory activities will be supplemented with industry tours, Internet research assignments, and a hands-on design project
  • Fundamentals of Lasers with Lab – introduction to the atom, emission processes, and stimulated emission of radiation; discussion of laser output characteristics and modification, materials, components, and industrial laser applications
  • Instrumentation and Measurement with Lab – the principles of electronic instrumentation and measurement; overview of measurement principles, significant figures, units of measure, metric prefixes, and typical electronic measuring instruments and their proper use; discussion on the operation of thermistors, light sensors, opto-electronic devices, hall effect devices, strain gauges, accelerometers, contact and non-contact measurement, humidity sensors, sonic and ultrasonic devices, digital to analog converters (DACs) and analog to digital converters (ADCs), and sampling theory
  • Wave Optics with Lab – wave optics, properties of light and matter, and transformation optics; emphasis will be on wave optics and the study of diffraction and interference; study of the properties of light and matter will focus on polarization and optical boundaries; the transformation optics section will focus on Fourier transform spectroscopy, transfer functions, optical data processing, and holography
  • Senior Project Research with Lab– in the first stages of their capstone senior project design, students will investigate key aspects of project development and management including project research, development of design specs, project scheduling, preliminary design and simulation, component selection, construction considerations, prototype development, design verification and testing, and design improvement and performance monitoring; students will select, spec, and order the components needed for their senior project
  • Technical Report Writing – the technical report writing process; the techniques of analyzing a writing situation, methods of investigating the problem, organizing the report, and preparing the final copy
  • Technical Math – topics covered include ratio, proportion, variation, fractions, fractional equations, functions and graphs, right angle trigonometry, vectors, solution of linear equations, determinants, factoring, algebraic functions, laws of sines and cosines, and graphs of trigonometric functions
  • Sensor Interfacing and Data Acquisition with Lab – the practical design and operational theory of sensor and instrument based data acquisition and measurement systems; topic include basic sensor theory, advanced electronics instrumentation, signal conditioning, and interfacing techniques using op-amp and integrated circuit (IC) subsystems, measurement techniques and standards, ADCs and DACs, and the fundamentals of PC and PIC microcontroller based measurement systems
  • Industrial Laser Applications with Lab – the applications of lasers in industry; study of the different uses of lasers include laser welding and surface treatment, material removal, laser marking and etching, non-destructive testing, distance measurement lasers in medicine and surgery, lasers in construction, spectroscopy, communications, and others
  • Senior Project with Lab – this capstone course combines the concepts, theories, and practices developed through the course of study so that students can apply them to a group project
  • Statistics – descriptive methods of collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting categorical and numerical data; elementary probability theory, estimation, and hypothesis testing
  • Advanced Topics in Lasers with Lab – introduction to advanced topics such as holography, interferometry (a measurement method using the phenomenon of interference of waves), precision optical testing, optical computing, and pattern recognition; as the field of lasers evolves, new technologies will be introduced; guest speakers and industry tours will supplement classroom lectures; students will be required to pursue an individual area of interest and complete an in-depth research paper and presentation
  • Introduction to Light and Lasers with Lab – introduction to the principles and applications of light and lasers; the electromagnetic spectrum, how lenses and mirrors form images, how basic optical instruments such as microscopes and telescopes work, how a laser functions, and how prisms and diffraction gratings function and are used in spectroscopy; lasers and precision measurement, polarizers, liquid crystal displays (LCDs), hair-thin strands of glass fiber in telecommunications systems, and holograms; examples will be drawn from precision manufacturing, environmental science, homeland security and defense, telecommunications, and entertainment

Degrees Similar to Laser Technology

Aerospace Engineering Technology
Students of aerospace engineering technology learn the skills needed to help engineers design, manufacture, test, and maintain aircraft and spacecraft.

Electrical Engineering
Students of electrical engineering learn how to use physics, electronics, and electromagnetism to design devices that are powered by or produce electricity. Most degree programs in the field start with foundational classes in calculus, physics, and chemistry.

Mechanical Engineering Technology
Mechanical engineering technology programs teach the skills required to help engineers design mechanical systems.

Physics is a field that keeps changing as discoveries are made. This means that the field asks at least as many questions as it answers. Students of physics degree programs study matter and energy. They learn about the relationships between the measurable quantities in the universe, which include velocity, electric field, and kinetic energy.

Telecommunications Engineering Technology
The telecommunications engineering technology program teaches students how to install, maintain, and repair telecommunications infrastructure including telephones, the Internet, and wireless networks.

Skills You’ll Learn

  • Active learning as technologies evolve
  • Adaptability
  • Attention to detail
  • Complex problem solving
  • Computers and electronics / technical savvy
  • Critical thinking
  • Dependability
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Initiative
  • Innovation / creativity
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical
  • Operation monitoring
  • Quality control analysis
  • Service orientation / customer service
  • Stress management
  • Systems analysis and evaluation
  • Time management
  • Troubleshooting

What Can You Do with a Laser Technology Degree?

The majority of graduates with a laser technology degree are employed as laser technicians. They often start off working in the development sector of laser technology. This may entail assembling laser machinery and equipment, making lasers, and integrating lasers into other products and systems in factory settings, or working in a solution and repair department.

With experience, they can advance to roles in laboratories, conducting research and developing new ways to incorporate lasers into different types of fields. Particularly significant applications include:

  • Information technology, fiber optics, and telecommunications
  • Medicine, healthcare, and the life sciences
  • Optical sensing, lighting, and energy
  • Industrial manufacturing
  • National defense
  • Aerospace, astronomy, aviation, and transportation
  • Construction and metrology (measurement)
  • Manufacturing of optical components and systems
  • Science and technology
  • Cosmetology
  • Research and education

Here is a sampling of jobs in the field:

  • Manufacturing Technician / Engineer
  • Laser Systems Test Technician / Engineer
  • Laser Application Technician / Engineer
  • New Product Introduction (NPI) Engineer
  • Opto-Mechanical Technician
  • Sales and Marketing Representative
  • Customer Support Representative


Find out what graduates typically earn.

Read about Salary