Can being a pyrotechnician for fireworks displays be a career?
For most people, no. Even though fireworks displays are conducted year round for all different types of events, they are still very seasonal, and too few and far inbetween to make into a bill paying career. Most pyrotechnician's do fireworks (very) part time, or as a hobby job. This is on top of the fact that most shows are volunteer. Because of this, over 95% of licensed pyrotechnicians have other non-fireworks related careers or jobs, and only work fireworks displays when they come up.
The only real full-time positions in the fireworks industry are for show producers, sales reps, among other administrative positions. These positions are few and hard to obtain.
If I work as part of your crew, will I get paid?
Most shows are strictly volunteer. As an unlicensed member of our fireworks crew, you will be fed during setup of a display, and be provided the training neccessary to obtain a pyrotechnics license (if desired) in exchange for working a show. There are larger shows such as those which fall on the 4th of July that are big enough to enable a small "thank you" check from the operator in addition to the above mentioned. If you are looking for a 9-5 job to pay the bills, this is NOT the place for you. Working as part of a professional fireworks display crew is a rewarding experience that only a few get to do. It is something you will either love or hate, being that you have to be passionate about fireworks to tollerate the manual labor involved.
Fireworks and professional pyrotechnics is not a job, it is a passion, period.
What college classes can I take to better prepare myself for a future in pyrotechnics?
There are really no classes that are specifically geared towards fireworks and/or pyrotechnics. Anything science such as physics, chemistry, and engineering can certainly give you an edge. Other than that, there is a ton of online fireworks training on our website, which can prepare you for working your first show. Most of your knowledge will be learned on the job, but doing your own research ahead of time certainly has merit.
If you are intersted in joining our crew, see our become a pyrotechnician page.