How to Become a Fireworks Technician or Pyrotechnician
Pyrotechnicians are the highly trained people who set up and operate fireworks displays for outdoor celebrations, such as 4th of July, New Year's, and other holidays. Some fireworks technicians can operate indoor displays as well. If you've ever watched a pyrotechnics show and wished you had the fireworks technician's job, you may be surprised to learn how straightforward the process is.
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A Fireworks Technician's Training and Job OutlookMost pyrotechnicians must work at a normal day job, but an experienced fireworks technician can easily make between $500-$1000 per show. This can be an excellent source of side income if you live in a big city.
The first step in becoming a pyrotechnician is to learn your region's laws on fireworks displays. Some jurisdictions mandate that every individual fireworks technician must have a license. Other areas only require that the pyrotechnic display company have a license. Additionally, some operators need to have a CDL--commercial driverís license.
Pyrotechnics licensing laws vary widely by state and country. For example, in Texas, operators must pass an exam administered by the State Fire Marshal's Office. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection administers licenses in California. Canadians should review the guidelines set forth by Natural Resources Canada.
In every state, fireworks operators must be at least 21, pass drug and alcohol tests, and have completed some type of training. Training is often provided by the fireworks display company that hires technicians.
Contact local pyrotechnics display companies to ask if they offer training programs, classes, or have any job openings. Some companies offer fireworks training classes on a regular basis, even when they are not hiring. Other companies offer training only when they are actively seeking new operators.
Normally, companies pay their apprentices for training time. If you find a company that offers pyrotechnics courses for a fee, you should carefully compare the cost of classes to the potential income. Having fireworks experience can help you gain admission to a company's training program.
The ideal fireworks technician is someone comfortable around fire and explosives, able to lift heavy objects, and able to work long hours into the night and early morning. You should also have a good grasp of chemistry, math, physics, and other science concepts related to explosives.
Career advancement may come slowly, so be patient. Senior fireworks operators can make $1000 or more per show, but it can take a year or more to gain that level of experience. You will work as an assistant during many shows before you become a lead pyrotechnician. Eventually, you can start your own company and hire other trainees.
© Had2Know 2010