What is a Pyrotechnician?
A pyrotechnician is someone who is responsible for setting up a fireworks display, as well as discharging the fireworks in a planned series of events during the performance.
A person who wants to work in this field must be knowledgeable about the applicable laws (federal, state, and municipal) that govern the safety procedures that must be followed before and during a fireworks display. Depending on the state where the show is taking place, the fireworks operators may need to be licensed.
A full-trained pyrotechnician is responsible for training crew members and supervising them during the performance. The pyrotechnician needs to ensure that all the steps involved in putting on a fireworks display are running smoothly, from the initial set up to cleaning up after the show.
If the show the audience is watching is entertaining and exciting, then that means the pyrotechnician and his or her crew did their jobs. It's supposed to look effortless. To get the level of knowledge needed to put together a show, you need to understand the properties of fireworks and how they are set off.
By the way...if fire is your thing then visit the firefighting careers section of JobMonkey, too. The material covers all types of jobs, from fighting wild fires to volunteer work.
Having a good base of knowledge in the laws of physics, as well as chemistry, will be very helpful if you want to work in the pyrotechnics field. Learning about computers is also a good idea, since the fireworks are rigged to go off in a set pattern that is controlled by computer. Having a certain level of artistic ability is a good idea for prospective pyrotechnicians as well, since they need to be able to choreograph a show (with or without music) in a pleasing manner. If this all sounds interesting, then check out bomb squad jobs, which are profiled in the Unique Jobs section. As you can see, the work involves a lot more than simply grabbing some fireworks, lighting them and letting them go.
There is the potential for some very serious injuries if the pyrotechnic materials are not handled appropriately. The ability to be careful and methodical about handling hazardous materials is another important trait of a successful pyrotechnician. The display may be a lot of fun for the people viewing it, but there is no room for "hot dogging" on the part of a pyrotechnics crew.