Although no formal education is needed to become a pyrotechnic technician, appropriate training and licensure are necessary. There are also minimum age regulations, which vary between 18-21 years old, depending on the state.
Pyrotechnicians transport, arrange, operate and breakdown firework displays. While no formal education is necessary for the position, aspiring pyrotechnicians must go through training and attain licensure. Some states require an individual to be 21 years of age to work on a fireworks display team, while 18 is the minimum age nationwide.
|Other Requirements||Training and licensure|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||4%*(all explosives workers, ordinance handling experts, and blasters)|
|Median Salary (2015)||$50,210*(all explosives workers, ordinance handling experts, and blasters)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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To work on a display fireworks team, one must be at least 18 years old; some states require one to be 21 years of age. To work as a lead fireworks display operator, one must be 21. In most states, attaining a license is necessary to work independently in this profession. Aspiring pyrotechnicians must complete some form of fireworks display training as well as pass background checks and drug screening tests.
Aspiring pyrotechnicians can begin their training by locating a fireworks display organization that is approved by the ATF. Some companies provide the job training, and others may refer learners to training courses through professional associations. For instance, the Pyrotechnics Guild International (PGI) offers basic display operator courses in addition to providing optional certification (www.pgi.org).
All training programs teach basic pyrotechnic principles, safety procedures, and regulations. In addition to classroom lectures, firsthand field experience is an important part of the educational process. Pyrotechnician students must participate in a number of firework shows to demonstrate competency. The apprenticeship process may take one to three years altogether.
To apply for licensure, individuals must prove their training and work experience. They may need to send in evidence documenting their participation as lead operator in a certain number of fireworks displays. In addition, submission of an affidavit that has been signed and notarized by the ATF-approved company under which the prospective pyrotechnician apprenticed may be required.
Depending on the state, the license might be called Fireworks Display Operator or Pyrotechnic Operator. The state licensing process costs money, with some states charging as much as $1,500 for the general public display licensure. In addition to the operator license, some companies may also expect their pyrotechnicians to obtain commercial drivers licenses (CDL) that include HAZMAT endorsements. In this case, additional training, testing, background checks and drug screening may be required.
According to Salary.com, a professional pyrotechnician can earn between $30 and $65 an hour, depending on the type and location of the job. In addition to fireworks displays, pyrotechnicians are the individuals behind the stunts and explosions at entertainment and amusement parks as well as in film and television productions. In these cases, overtime is often required until the scene is just right, and time-and-a-half and double-time pay can make for excellent salary potential in some markets.
There are a number of training options available for aspiring pyrotechnic technicians, which include on-the-job training, courses taken through professional associations, or seeking out a fireworks display organization approved by the ATF. To learn this profession safely, firsthand field experience can be just as important as classroom lectures.