There are no formal degree programs for pyrotechnicians. Instead, they learn through pyrotechnic training courses and apprenticeships. Some states offer online training programs.
The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) states that apprenticeships involve participation in three or more fireworks events. Pyrotechnic apprentices are judged on safety practices, firework display performance and other factors. Altogether, the process of training through courses and an apprenticeship can take between 1-3 years.
Pyrotechnicians need to be at least 18 years old to participate in fireworks and pyrotechnic crews, and some states have a 21-year age minimum. Display operators are the ones in charge, and they are required to be 21 years old.
According to the APA , pyrotechnicians typically train through fireworks safety courses where individuals learn state and national fire safety laws as well as how to store and safely display fireworks equipment. Training courses, which offer both classroom instruction and field experience, are offered by fireworks display companies and third-party organizations.
Pyrotechnicians typically need several years to be considered competent in pyrotechnic safety and operation. Job experience is gained through an apprenticeship or an on-the-job training program. Because pyrotechnicians often work on holidays and weekends, many pyrotechnicians work part-time and have additional full-time careers. Pyrotechnicians gain experience by assisting display operators. With practice, they can begin managing fireworks events without supervision.
Licenses and Certifications
Licensure requirements for pyrotechnicians vary by state. The APA maintains a comprehensive database of state licensure requirements and fire safety regulations. States that do require licensure usually require pyrotechnicians to pass an exam that addresses topics such as fireworks display and design, hazardous material handling and electronic fireworks control. Display operators may need to have a commercial driver's license and proper knowledge of hazardous materials transportation.
Workshops and Seminars
Workshops and seminars are held by pyrotechnic employers or fireworks organizations. The Pyrotechnics Guild International (PGI), for example, offers programs that teach pyrotechnicians proper fire safety and fireworks display practices. Workshops offered by employers are usually part of a larger on-the-job training program.
Additional Professional Development
The APA and PGI offer further pyrotechnician development resources. A membership to the APA provides pyrotechnicians with newsletters and educational programs, emergency response services, extensive safety information and networking opportunities. Members of the PGI receive similar resources. Five times each year, PGI publishes PGI Bulletin, an industry publication that discusses trends, legislation and pyrotechnic safety information. The National Council on Fireworks Safety also provides helpful information for pyrotechnicians.
Although licensing specifics vary between states, individuals interested in becoming pyrotechnicians can gain the hands-on experience and learn the necessary safety laws through apprenticeship programs and training courses.