Governor Steve Bullock today visited with students, faculty, and industry partners to showcase Gallatin College’s associate’s degree in photonics, a two-year pathway to put students in good-paying jobs and help meet the workforce demands of Bozeman’s growing photonics industry.
“With programs like these, where industry is collaborating closely with higher education, our students will be better prepared to fill the jobs of today and into the future,” said Governor Bullock. “By offering multiple pathways to good-paying jobs, we can meet growing workforce demands, all the while giving Montanans more opportunities to earn a good living and raise a family under the Big Sky.”
Gallatin College began offering the two-year associate’s degree in photonics last fall. Graduates are qualified to become technicians in the photonics and laser optics field, with an average annual starting salary of $41,137. Graduates can also continue their education in the four-year program at Montana State University. The program and high-powered laser lab is funded from a National Science Foundation grant, the Carl Perkins grant, and mill levy funding.
There are nearly 50 optics and photonics industry companies in the Bozeman area, employing nearly 500 workers. An independent report by the American Jobs Initiative indicated that Bozeman has one of the highest densities of photonics companies anywhere in the U.S. and that the state can support over 6,300 jobs in the photonics industry by 2030.