June 30, 2010

Pyrotechnic Work for Independence Day

With the 4th of July right around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to talk about everyone’s favorite Independence Day job.

No, I don’t mean the apple pie baker! I’m talking about the pyrotechnic jobs.

Everyone loves fireworks on the 4th of July, but what do you know about the person responsible for creating that show and ensuring the safety of all the spectators? That professional is called a pyrotechnician, and believe me when I say, it takes far more than just a love of fireworks be great at it.

If you think that setting off fireworks for a living is right up your alley, you will need to be prepared for a long list of must-do’s, including:

  • Take a beginner’s level training class with a fireworks display company, and then follow up with an apprenticeship for an experienced fireworks operator (the apprenticeship can last up to 3 years)
  • Be at least 18 years old to be hired on a fireworks crew, or 21 years old to be a display operator
  • Know and follow all federal, state and municipal laws governing fireworks safety
  • Have an updated license from the state permitting you to operate a fireworks displays (this includes paying any applicable fees for the license to the state)
  • Have a CDL (Commercial Display License) with a HAZMAT endorsement, as required for display operators
  • Be competent at using a computer, since most fireworks displays run off computer programs today
  • Have a clear criminal record (yes, you will be subjected to a thorough background check before the state will grant you your license and any reputable employer will offer you a job)
  • Be able to pass a drug test (most employers require periodic drug testing even after you’ve gotten the job)

As you can see, working in pyrotechnics isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a full-fledged professional job that requires training, licensing and plenty of blood, sweat and tears. But at the end of it all, you get to have one of the coolest jobs in the world: Designing that awesome show of fire power in the sky that all of us love to enjoy on July 4th!

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