Veteran Education & Training

OP-TEC recognizes and values the highly-skilled veterans reentering the civil workforce and knows that optics and photonics careers can offer great opportunities for veterans. This page is dedicated to providing information on optics and photonics education and assisting veterans in determining the educational and career opportunities available to them in this high-demand, high-paying field.

What is photonics? Photonics is the technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. Photonics involves cutting-edge uses of lasers, optics, fiber optics, and electro-optical devices in numerous and diverse fields of technologyalternate energy, manufacturing, health care, telecommunication, environmental monitoring, homeland security, aerospace, solid-state lighting, and many others.

Learn More About Photonics  View Veteran Resources

Veteran Career Opportunities in Photonics Enabled Fields

Because it encompasses applications in numerous and diverse fields of technology, photonics offers technicians a wide variety of employment opportunities and great potential for personal advancement. Some potential employment fields for a photonics technician include:

  • Aerospace Technology
  • Communications
  • Forensic Science & Analysis
  • Geographic Information Systems & Global Positioning
  • Defense & Homeland Security
  • Imaging & Remote Sensing
  • Lighting and Illumination (LED’s)
  • Manufacturing
  • Medicine
  • Nanotechnology
  • Optical Fabrication
  • Solar-Cell Technology
  • Transportation

Educational and Training Requirements:

Photonics specialists – These technicians work in research and development laboratories, as team members of original equipment manufacturers in lasers, optics, and photonics; and as field service technicians. They are typically graduates of AAS programs that focus specifically on optics, lasers, and photonics.

Technicians in photonics-enabled fields – These technicians are typically graduates of technical education programs in fields in which photonics technology enables processes to be accomplished at higher efficiencies or with greater precision. (The use of lasers in manufacturing for cutting, welding, measuring, and aligning is an example of this “enabling” principle).

Colleges Offering Photonics AAS Degrees

There are several colleges located throughout the nation who can assist veterans in determining what type of photonics technician program is most compatible with their experience and interests. Many of these programs boast 100% placement rates and beginning salaries averaging $47,000. If you don’t see your area in the list below, please contact OP-TEC for assistance at op‑tec@op‑ or 254-751-9000.

ARIZONA (Tucson)
Pima Community College – West Campus
2202 W. Anklam Road
Tucson, AZ 85709-0215
Contact 1: Chien-Wei Han
Instructor, Science & Technology
Contact 2: Dr. Lazaro Hong
Technology Department Chair
520-206-6603 Office
520-206-6902 Fax


Three Rivers Community College
574 New London Turnpike
Norwich, CT 06360
Contact: Daniel Courtney


FLORIDA (Fort Pierce)
Indian River State College
3209 Virginia Avenue
Fort Pierce, FL. 34981
Contact: Dr. Chrys Panayiotou
Department Chair


ILLINOIS (Grayslake)
College of Lake County
19351 West Washington Street
Grayslake, IL 60030
Contact: Professor Steve Dulmes


IOWA (Ottumwa)
Indian Hills Community College
525 Grandview Avenue
Ottumwa, IA 52501
Contact 1: Professor Frank Reed
1-800-726-2585, Ext. 5211 or 641-683-5211
Contact 2: Tyler Wyngarden
Career and Technical Information Coordinator
1-800-726-2585 Ext. 5269 or 641-683-5269


NEW JERSEY (Blackwood)
Camden County College
200 College Drive
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Contact 1: Dr. Fred P. Seeber
Contact 2: Dr. Larry Chatman
856-227-7200, #4523


NEW MEXICO (Albuquerque)
Central New Mexico Community College
525 Buena Vista Dr. SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Contact: Michael Cranney, Associate Dean
School of Applied Technologies


Central Carolina Community College
1075 East Cornelius Harnett Blvd.
Lillington, NC 27546
Contact: Gary Beasley, Lead Instructor
Lead Instructor, Laser and Photonics Technology


OHIO (Cincinnati)
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
3520 Central Parkway
Cincinnati, OH 45223
Contact: Larry Feist
Program Chair Laser Major


Midwest Photonics Education Center

Indian Hills Community College
626 Indian Hills Drive
Ottumwa, Iowa 52501
Mr. Greg Kepner
Office: 641-683-5284
Specialization: Photonics in Manufacturing

Laser and Fiber Optics Regional Education Center

Indian River State College
3209 Virginia Avenue
Fort Pierce, FL 34981
Dr. Chrys Panayiotou
Office: 772-462-7621
Specialization: Fiber Optics

Texas State Technical College

3801 Campus Drive
Waco, Texas 76705
Mr. John O. Pedrotti
Department Chair, Lasers & Nanotechnology
Office: 254-867-3173
Specialization: Photonics in Opto-Electronics / Nano-Technology

Irvine Valley College / Advanced Technology and Education Park (IVC / ATEP)

15445 Lansdowne Road
Tustin, California 92782
Brian Monacelli
Office: 949-282-2706
Specialization: Photonics in Education/Training for Employed Technicians

Camden County College

200 College Drive
Blackwood, New Jersey 08012
Dr. Fred Seeber
Professor Emeritus, Physics and Photonics
Office: 856-227-7200 (ext. 4475)

New York Photonics

Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster
Thomas Battley, Executive Director
1565 Jefferson Rd, #420
Rochester, New York 14623
Phone: 585-329-4029
Website – New York Photonics:

New Mexico Optics Industry Association

Jim McNalley, Chairman
851 University Blvd., SE
Suite 203
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106
Phone: 505-767-1200

Florida Photonics Cluster

Florida Photonics Cluster
James E. Pearson, Executive Director
12424 Research Parkway, Ste. 100
Orlando, Florida 32826

Colorado Photonics Industry Association

Garry Gorsuch, Director
5733 Central Ave.
Boulder, Colorado 80301
Phone: 303-834-1022

Carolinas Photonics Consortium

Jeff Conley, Director
1754 Woodruff Rd., Ste. 101
Greenville, South Carolina 29607
Phone: 864-325-4700

Optics Valley

c/o Arizona Technology Council
John Dennis, Chair
9070 South Rita Road, #1550
Tucson, AZ 85747

Indian Hills Community College

626 Indian Hills Drive
Ottumwa, Iowa 52501
Mr. Greg Kepner
Department Chair, Industrial Technology
Office: 641-683-5284
Specialization: Photonics in Manufacturing