A pyrotechnics operator who puts on a show will receive compensation. The operator will likely be paid a certain percentage of the show's take.
The person in charge of the show as the operator will take a larger portion of the proceeds than his or her crew members. The operator receives more money because they take on other responsibilities that crew members do not, such as meeting with the customer and the show producer to do the prep work in the weeks.
before the show. He or she may also be required to meet with the fire inspector and audio technicians beforehand. Choosing the crew members is also part of the operator's job and his or her pay reflects this responsibility as well.
The operator is also responsible for ordering and picking up fireworks and supplies, as well as transporting them to the show venue. He or she is responsible for any paperwork required before and after the show (there will be plenty to be filled out). The operator is someone with enough experience to be able to understand the law as it relates to fireworks in their state and who is prepared to take on responsibility for the crew's safety.
If the crew is a large one, the operator may not be able to pay them. Crew members may only receive a free lunch and the opportunity to participate in the fireworks show as compensation for their participation. The majority of people who are involved in pyrotechnics do it because they love it, not for the money, although for some the motivation is that they are working toward their pyrotechnics license.
In a situation where the crew is going to be paid in addition to being fed and watered, each person may not get paid the same amount. The operator will consider each crew member's contribution to the show. A crew member who is able to do any of the functions needed to run the show independently is going to be paid more than someone who needs to be directed every step of the way. No matter how long they have been working in pyrotechnics, if the person is unable to step up and take charge, they are still behaving like a "newbie" and their share will be calculated accordingly.
A person who can develop the skills necessary to participate in the setup, run continuity checks, and operate the firing display will be rewarded with higher pay. Being able to work well with audio technicians and having the skills needed to perform debugging functions with the firing systems as needed will prepare the crew member for starting their own business at some point, as well as qualify them for a bigger slice of the pie when pay is divvied up.