Optical Imaging Engineer Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does an Optical Imaging Engineer Do?

An optical imaging engineer designs, develops, and maintains imaging systems that use optical technology. In addition to working with medical imaging equipment, cameras, and telescopes, they ensure that these systems are reliable and produce high-quality images.

Optical imaging engineers should be well-versed in optical technology and imaging systems, as well as software development, signal processing, and image analysis. In addition, they should be able to work well in a team environment and have excellent communication skills.

These engineers should have in-depth knowledge of the properties of light and optics, and a strong background in mathematics and physics as pertains to light and refraction. Exceptional problem-solving abilities and excellent working knowledge of relevant software programs, such as MATLAB, CAD, GIS, DFMA, R Language, and C are also crucial for success in this position.

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National Average Salary

Optical imaging engineer salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.

The average U.S. salary for an Optical Imaging Engineer is:


Optical Imaging Engineer Job Descriptions

It’s important to include the right content in your job description when hiring an optical imaging engineer. The following examples can serve as templates for attracting the best available talent for your team.

Example 1

[Your Company Name] is hiring an experienced optical imaging engineer in [Your City}. The selected candidate will be tasked with working on a team developing optical instrumentation and software for imaging. Our optical imaging engineer will be responsible for researching and designing new systems used in the development of consumer products, electronic components, and hospital equipment. They will work under the supervision of scientists or engineers in order to create these devices that are used to produce results with imaging.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Creating new imaging solutions for end-users
  • Determine equipment needs
  • Sourcing available technology
  • Testing the equipment prior to deployment
  • Ensure that all their tests remain confidential while working in a lab setting.
  • Knowledge of optomechanical design and electro-optics; optical design; system engineering
  • Troubleshooting new equipment that has been purchased by a client
  • Report progress to a manager or higher-ranking professional during regular meetings

Education and experience

  • A Bachelor’s degree in optics, engineering, or physics
  • Familiarity with design software for optics and lasers such as MathCAD, LabVIEW, MATLAB
  • Understanding of various imaging techniques such as confocal microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, laser scanning confocal microscopy
  • Having 3 years of experience in their field is also beneficial

Required skills and qualifications

  • A strong background in physics and math
  • The ability to communicate effectively with others, especially those who are higher up in the company
  • A strong eye for detail
  • Being a relatively organized person, as required by most larger companies
  • Knowledge of how to design imaging systems using lenses and mirrors is not necessarily required, but knowledge of why they work that way definitely makes you stick out from the crowd

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience working in a field that requires attention to detail
  • The ability to work well under pressure and meet tight deadlines
  • Some knowledge of lasers, especially if you already have experience with beam shaping or optical fibers
  • Having some knowledge of how imaging systems work and knowing the difference between them would be helpful when designing new equipment for clients

Example 2

The successful candidate must keep multiple records, be self-motivated, maintain a professional presence, and have the desire to take ownership of projects. If you are a technically strong, organized, confident, experienced, energetic multitasker with conceptual thinking skills, then you will find a rewarding and satisfying home with company ABC.


  • Create physical optic models of component/system designs and derive tolerances
  • Produce optical breadboards and present technical data to customers.
  • Support the production of prototypes and initial volume production work instructions
  • Assist in optical component sourcing
  • Prepare and present technical status reviews


  • M.S. (Ph.D. preferred) in Optical Science/Engineering, Chemistry, or Physics
  • Capable of basic optical physics hand-calculations and experience with ASAP, GLAD, Zemax, FRED, or other optical modeling software
  • Fluent in the production of optical breadboards using standard components
  • Understanding of optical component assembly/packaging processes desired
  • Strong verbal and written English communication skills

Example 3

Duties and responsibilities

  • Assumes optical engineering responsibilities for optical component, module, or subsystem design from concept through final qualification
  • Coordinates with lead optical and opto-mechanical engineers and scientists in transfer to engineering prototypes
  • Performs component (active and passive) specification, design development, and qualification in the lab and on-system
  • Delivers qualification reports and makes recommendations for improvements and further work
  • Processes purchase requisitions, purchase change orders, and requests for quotes to suppliers
  • Interacts closely with development engineers, supply chain engineers, suppliers, and QA to resolve quality issues
  • Participates in preliminary and critical design reviews
  • Performs other duties as required

Education and experience

  • Master’s degree in applicable field (or bachelor’s with 2+ years work experience in relevant field)
  • Experience with sequential and non-sequential optical design and analysis software (such as: Zemax, FRED)
  • Experience with mathematical analysis tools such as MatLab and/or LabView
  • Experience with working in an optical laboratory and familiarity with optical metrology tools an advantage
  • Experience with the design and alignment of high-power laser systems and reflective focusing systems an advantage
  • Familiar with working in gated project development cycle (PDP) an advantage
  • Requirement to report on project progress with strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Skilled in using a variety of computer applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, e-mail) required


  • Optical system and component specification
  • Optical system design, analysis, and tolerancing
  • Stray light analysis
  • High-power NIR solid-state lasers and modulators (EOM, AOM, etc.)
  • Polarization management
  • Optical sensors and imaging components

Example 4

Duties and responsibilities

  • Co-design, assembly, and test of optical systems. Examples of systems include flow cytometers, PCR systems, custom microscopes, and optical sensors requiring unique imaging and illumination systems
  • Ability to work within an interdisciplinary team
  • Work with the mechanical engineering team to define tolerances, and alignment methods and implement Optomechanical designs
  • Perform hands-on tests, with data collection, analysis, and presentation of data to project teams and customers
  • Provide guidance to manufacturing engineers
  • Ability to be onsite at our Sunnyvale location for optics testing and support troubleshooting efforts
  • A proven track record for troubleshooting problems
  • You need to be confident, capable of collaborating on multiple projects with interdisciplinary teams, and comfortable developing new and existing optics, both independently and in small teams
  • Your innovation is welcome and encouraged, but you must also be capable of working within project constraints and retaining compatibility with legacy designs

Required education

  • Minimum BSc in applied physics or chemistry with emphasis on optics
  • At least 2-5 years of experience in a relevant field


  • Work with senior staff to design optical systems
  • Assembly and test of imaging and illumination systems
  • Knowledge of ZEMAX or similar optical simulation packages
  • Experience with Solidworks preferred
  • Experience with optical solutions such as lens design, fiber optics, and non-imaging optics preferred
  • Development of optical systems from concept through prototypes to the introduction of manufacturing is preferred
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate clearly with interdisciplinary teams, both verbally and in writing

Candidate Certifications to Look For

There are no certification exams or designations required to become an optical imaging engineer. However, candidates who wish to advance their careers will find themselves able to take part in many courses and seminars offered by universities and the like. These professionals may also be able to gain special certification for certain equipment such as microscopes and other instruments.

Sample Interview Questions

  • What inspired you to become an optical imaging engineer, and what imaging systems experience do you have?
  • What tools do you use to develop imaging software, and what is your experience with software development?
  • To ensure that image data is accurate and useful, how do you analyze image data?
  • What steps do you take to ensure that imaging systems produce high-quality images based on your experience with optical technology?
  • What techniques do you use to ensure that imaging systems are reliable and meet customer needs?
  • To learn about new techniques and technologies, what resources do you use to keep up with new developments in optical technology?
  • Is there a project that you worked on with other engineers that required collaboration? What was your role in the project?
  • What approach did you take when troubleshooting an imaging system?
  • What are your strategies for communicating effectively and professionally with team members, customers, and other stakeholders?
  • Could you describe your experience with signal processing, and how do you ensure that signals are processed correctly?

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