Recognized Skill Standards
July 9, 2013
The National Precision Optics Skill Standards for Technicians were submitted for recognition by the National Center for Optics and Photonics Education (OP-TEC), an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Center of Excellence funded by the National Science Foundation.
In January 2009, the first edition of the precision optics skill standards was developed by OP-TEC. A group of industry representatives including line/production managers, technical specialists, and practicing technicians identified and defined the responsibilities of precision optics technicians, as well as the workplace and technical skills required to perform the work. The draft standards then were reviewed through an online survey by 22 industry professionals, whose comments were incorporated into a final draft.
In February 2013, OP-TEC published the second edition of the standards, after review and revision of the original standards to better organize and clarify the critical work function, task, and skill statements. The revised standards were validated by 33 industry professionals, and endorsed by the American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association and several state and regional industry associations representing over 300 employers around the country engaged in optics and optics-related industries.
The skill standards describe seven areas of precision optics specialization. Those areas include: preparation for manufacturing optical components; planning & verifying optical fabrication processes; shaping & finishing bulk materials to generate optical components; operating, maintaining & calibrating optics manufacturing & testing equipment; conducting optical metrology measurements and inspections; participating in the development of inspection plans; assembling optical components & systems; and applying anti-reflective coatings to optical components.
Importance to Texas
Precision optics technicians produce, test, and handle optical (infrared, visible, and ultraviolet) components that are used in lasers and sophisticated electro-optical systems for defense, homeland security, aerospace, biomedical equipment, digital displays, alternate energy production, and nanotechnology. These technicians also integrate precision optical components into electro-optical systems and maintain them.
According to OP-TEC, there is high demand for precision optics technicians nationally and in Texas. Bureau of Labor Statistics data do not exist specifically for precision optics technician, which is considered a new and emerging occupation. However, a May 2009 survey of U.S. firms employing these positions, conducted by the University of North Texas Survey Research Center, found that the number in the workforce is estimated to be 6,188, with a five-year demand of 3,100 additional technicians. An online salary database indicates that the average yearly salary in Texas is $34,000.
On July 9, 2013, the National Precision Optics Skill Standards for Technicians were recognized in accordance with the Guidelines for the Development, Recognition and Usage of Skill Standards.