So You Want to be a Pyro?

Welcome to the World of Professional Pyrotechnics!
If you've ever wondered what it is like to be up close and personal to the professional display fireworks during a fireworks show, or if you live for the roar of the crowd, continue reading! Whether you are interested in just being part of a fireworks display crew, or actually obtaining a California pyrotechnic operators license, you have come to the right place. We get tons of people asking how to become a pyrotechnician, and how to obtain a pyrotechnics license. So you have an idea of what you are getting yourself into, a typical fourth of July will be described.

Is it for me?
If you grew up using consumer fireworks like Phantom Fireworks, TNT Fireworks, Black Cat Fireworks, etc, and every year would always look forward to the first day of fireworks for sale, then you will likely love the Professional fireworks side of things. If you don't mind some good old fashion manual labor, then you will almost certainly enjoy the behind the scenes adrenaline rush and roar of the crowd that comes with a professional fireworks display! So you have an idea of what you are getting yourself into, a typical fourth of July is described below.

A Typical 4th of July
The lead pyrotechnician's (operator) day will usually start long before the sun comes up, for they need to make the trip down to the fireworks plant to pick up their loaded truck. Once they are satisfied that it has been loaded properly and completely, and has filled out the mountain of paperwork, they will make their way down to the firing site to meet up with their crew. With a typically sized 4th of July show, you will usually arrive at the firing site at around 9:00am or earlier to beat the summer heat and ensure you get setup on time. Everyone will unload the thousands of pounds of equipment and fireworks from the truck, fill the mortar boxes with sand and/or cleat the racks, depending on the specifics of your show. These two tasks usually take a good chunk of the morning. Once the fireworks "guns" have been cleaned, the crew will then begin laying out and loading the hundreds, possibly even thousands, of aerial fireworks shells which will be used in the display. During an electrically fired show, the fireworks must also be wired into field modules. At the same time, the cakes, candles, mines, set pieces, strobes, gerbes, and any other low level device in the show must be mounted, set, and wired. The firing cables must be run, a continuity check preformed, along with a pre-show safety/logistics briefing. The show will usually fire around 9pm. The fireworks finale will fire, the crowd will roar, your senses will be overwhelmed, and you'll already be looking forward to your next show. Afterwords, the field is checked for duds, sand boxes emptied, mortar racks taken apart, and everything else packed up and put away. The crew will usually leave the firing site between 11:00pm and 1:00am depending on the show. The operator still has to drive the truck back to the fireworks plant, fill out another mountain of paperwork, and then finally gets to go home. Professional pyrotechnics is a lot of hard work, and is not for everyone. See our fireworks videos or fireworks pictures for a better look at what it is like to work a professional display.

What is it like to be part of a fireworks crew? Will I get paid?
Fireworks crew members are volunteers. Only once you become a licensed pyrotechnic operator do you get paid by the display company. Read more on fireworks crew stipends. Before becoming a crew member, you must fill out an employee possessor form that is sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) for a thorough background check. If you have been convicted of a felony, among other disqualifiers, then you will not be able to handle explosives.

Since pyrotechnic operators work as independent contractors to big display companies, they provide their own crew. This means, in order to get into the world of pyrotechnics, you typically need to know someone who has a pyrotechnics license, who is willing to take the time to train you and let you into their crew. Lucky for you, we are willing to train new people, given there is an opening on our crews (not always the case), you are at least 18, and you are willing to put the time and effort into being trained. The entire time as a crew member, you will be working under direct supervision of the licensed pyrotechnic operator in charge.

Note that since we are one of the primary trainers for our official partner Pyro Spectaculars, you must exclusively crew and shoot shows sold by Pyro Spectaculars. This means we only provide training for those interested in shooting shows for Pyro Spectaculars. Fear not, Pyro Spectaculars is the largest fireworks display company in California, and is one of the most respected fireworks display companies in the world. We do not except people who want to come crew for us to just get experience and then get licensed and shoot for other fireworks display companies.

If your looking to make a profit, or a 9-5 job, this is not the place for you. If you want to become a licensed pyrotechnic operator, you need to volunteer on different crews for a minimum of two years. Its best to see this as a hobby that you really enjoy and would do for free, and getting a stipend is only a bonus. If you want to obtain a pyrotechnic operators license, we will be happy to guide you through the process and try to make it as painless as possible.

All of our new crew are required to read through all of our pyrotechnician training pages before coming out to work their first show, and is a good start for anyone wanting to break into the industry. If your still asking how to become a pyrotechnician:

Apply here to become part of our professional fireworks crew!


Make sure you check out our FREE Online Fireworks Training pages!

Check out Fireworks Videos from some of our previous fireworks displays!

Become a Pyrotek today!