Back in the olden days, it was quite easy to become a pyrotechnician – just hang out a shingle, get to stuffing shells and pray the whole place didn’t blow up. However, today the industry is heavily regulated by federal, state and local entities that all have a say in making, selling and use of fireworks. If you think becoming a pyrotechnician would be the perfect profession for you, there are some things you need to know getting and keeping the job.
First, you must be of legal age which is either 18 or 21 years old depending on the state to be hired or even intern (volunteer) as part of a professional fireworks crew. In order to be an official Display Operator, you must be at least 21 years of age. In addition, you must really have a passion for fireworks and not be afraid of hard work – and much thankless manual labor.
Second, you will be required to meet certain educational and vocational benchmarks. For example, you’ll need to have certified classroom training as well as training on a job site. You also must apprentice under an experienced pyrotechnician who will mentor you and show you the realities of the job. As an apprentice, you will work on at least 3 to 6 outdoor fireworks shows where you will be evaluated on your performance and safety practices. As a Display Operator, you may also have to get a commercial drivers license with an endorsement for transporting hazardous materials.  This all means you must be prepared for criminal background checks as well as periodic drug and alcohol testing.
As a professional pyrotechnician, you will also be responsible for following the rules and regulations put forth in your state. For regulation purposes, your state will also make you obtaining a pyrotechnician’s license that requires a written test and annual fee.
To get started, contact a reputable pyrotechnic company in your area and see if you can come in to discuss opportunities. It’s a great way to make contacts and get your foot into the professional world of fireworks. With hard work and perseverance, you’ll be an official Fireworks Display Operator making a living while having a blast!