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Every year, millions of children, teenagers and adults enjoy riding roller coasters, white water rides, drop tower rides, carousels, Ferris wheels, tea cups, bumper cars, miniature park trains and other amusement rides. They ride them at amusement parks, carnivals, fairs, local parks and other facilities. Ride operators are the employees who make sure that patrons have safe and fun rides.
Ride operators work directly with the public. They greet patrons as they enter rides, and confirm that they meet height and other admission requirements to get on the rides. Some operators also collect tickets. Operators direct patrons on how to enter and exit rides. Operators sometimes help people get on and off rides. They also make sure that patrons are securely seated into the equipment. Ride operators keep an eye on patrons and their movements to ensure they are not in any danger. If necessary, operators take the proper steps to remove disorderly people from the rides.
Ride operators are also responsible for keeping their workstations and surrounding areas clean and maintained. Operators who work for traveling carnivals assist in the installation and breakdown of rides.
Rider safety is an important concern of ride operators. They enforce all safety regulations and stay current with safety rules and procedures. They are trained to shut down rides and execute emergency evacuation procedures. Ride operators perform daily inspections on amusement rides, take note of any equipment damage or wear and report maintenance and repair problems to their supervisors. Some ride operators are responsible for performing minor maintenance and repairs.
Ride operators work part-time or full-time. Depending on the facility, they are hired to year-round or seasonal positions. Employees of touring carnivals travel to different cities, which include overnight stays. Ride Operators work mostly outdoors in noisy and fast-paced environments. They stand on their feet for long periods in cold, windy and hot weather. They sometimes lift children or objects that weight 40 pounds or more. Their schedules may include working evenings and weekends. Operators may be required to wear uniforms or identification badges.
Some employers require that applicants for ride-operator positions to be at least 18 years old, while others have a 16-year-old minimum requirement. Work experience is usually not needed, as employers train operators how to properly and safely operate rides. Employers seek applicants who are friendly and outgoing, and demonstrate the ability to work with people of all ages and different backgrounds.
According to a May 2008 salary survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most amusement attendants earned an estimated hourly wage that ranged from $6.94 to $12.30. The estimated annual salary for these attendants ranged from $14,420 to $25,590.
- O*NET Online: Summary Report for Amusement and Recreation Attendants
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Amusement and Recreation Attendants
- Kootenay Career Development Society: Unusual Jobs—Carnival Rides
- International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions: Amusement Ride Safety: Ride Operators
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