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Pyrotechnic Engineer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a pyrotechnic engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Pyrotechnic engineers are a type of chemical engineer that works with explosives to test, prepare for and design fireworks and/or fire displays. They need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and may be required to earn a license in some states.

Essential Information

Pyrotechnic engineers work with explosives and reactive chemicals to organize displays of fire and fireworks. Their jobs rely on an extensive knowledge of how certain compounds react with other inputs in order to design and produce fireworks and pyrotechnic displays for sports arenas, concert venues or special effects in movies and television. They must have extensive knowledge of both chemistry and physics to accurately determine and control how a reaction will occur. The requirements of pyrotechnic engineers vary depending on the position they have and the state where they work.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, chemistry or related field
Other Requirements Fireworks training and certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% for all chemical engineers*
Mean Salary (2015) $103,960 for all chemical engineers*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't report on salary or make employment predictions for pyrotechnic engineers, it noted that the related field of chemical engineers was expected to see employment growth of two percent between 2014 and 2024. Chemical engineers earned a median salary of $103,960 as of May 2015, the BLS reported.

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Additional Duties

The position of a pyrotechnic engineer revolves around putting a working knowledge of science and math into effect by designing precisely timed explosions. They deal with many aspects of making these explosions happen, from testing the materials to making precise measurements and calculating each chemical compound.

If they are working for a manufacturer of fireworks, they must know how to artificially produce colors and different visual effects. Working for concerts or sporting arenas requires an engineer to have their display timed to coordinate perfectly with the music or the sporting action.

Safety is an extremely important part of a pyrotechnic engineer's job. The sensitive nature of pyrotechnic displays requires an engineer to be especially cautious about ensuring that every explosion is well-planned and monitored.

Preparation Requirements

Pyrotechnic engineers need a wide breadth of knowledge to understand the complex nature of how different compounds react with each other. There are no formal education programs at large universities for pyrotechnic engineers, so candidates must be self-motivated to form an education path that gives them the knowledge they will need.

Chemistry programs are absolutely crucial for pyrotechnic engineers to learn the many reactions that take place between chemicals. Knowledge of physics will give engineers the ability to predict the effect of their explosions and the trajectory of the flame.

In addition to an education in chemistry and physics, pyrotechnic engineers need training that is specific to creating fireworks. Many firework display companies offer training programs that teach pyrotechnic safety, designing and firing; these programs also prepare an individual to earn a Certified Display Operator title if they wish to actually perform, rather than just design, fireworks shows.

The requirements for pyrotechnic engineers vary depending on the company they work for, the duties required of them and the state they live in. Every state has its own licensing regulations for pyrotechnic engineers, but most involve passing a written exam and displaying proof of education as well as a clean criminal background.

A pyrotechnic engineer would start with an undergraduate degree in chemistry or physics, and pursue further training in pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnics engineers might work for firework companies or sporting arenas. Because safety is a factor in their work, some states require a licensing exam.

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