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Rides are the heartbeat of amusement parks. Millions of visitors flock to parks all over the world to experience the biggest and scariest roller coasters. You can be the brain behind the entertainment by becoming an amusement park ride engineer. Creativity and engineering skills are the keys to a rewarding career in this industry.
Skills for Success
Amusement park ride engineers need creativity. The park's success greatly depends on the rides offered. From big-thrill coasters to smaller rides for children, the ride engineer needs fresh ideas that stand out from current attractions. Parks regularly update their rides, so engineers must also be innovative. You identify the latest industry trends and implement new techniques. Ride engineers must be detailed-oriented. Millions of people may experience your rides, and their safety depends on your design details and building specifications. You must also have the leadership ability to advise a construction team, ensuring that the work is completed to your satisfaction.
Amusement park ride engineers spend a lot of time on their computers designing new attractions. They often work in teams and collaborate on ideas. As an engineer, you also identify the most efficient manner of maintaining rides. For example, you may update parts with more environmentally friendly options. An engineer's day may also include meetings with park owners to discuss projects and address concerns. Engineers coordinate regular safety inspections to ensure ride security and prevent potential issues. When rides stop functioning, engineers visit the site to assess the problem and supervise the maintenance.
During the building phase of a ride, you'll spend the majority of your time at the construction site. You will ensure builders follow the design specifications. You monitor each step of the process, coordinating safety checks along the way. As construction advances, you may find that some elements of the ride are not working properly. You must be willing to adjust your design plans throughout the construction phase. Prior to the ride's debut, the engineer coordinates numerous test runs and monitors its safety. You may even act as your own guinea pig, being the first passenger to experience your attraction.
Opening the Door
Amusement park ride engineers are generally strong in the area of math and have completed a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. According to the McGraw Hill Career Center, civil engineers earn a median salary of $74,600 per year. Job availability for ride engineers is low due to the scarcity of jobs in the industry. To strengthen your employment opportunities, look for colleges with programs tailored for amusement park engineers. In an interview with the McGraw Hill Career Center, roller coaster designer Jeff Pike suggests starting early with your career plans. Apply for internships while you are still in school and attend trade shows where you can introduce yourself to professionals in the industry.
Erika Winston is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, with more than 15 years of writing experience. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Imara, Corporate Colors E-zine and Enterprise Virginia. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University and a Masters in public policy from New England College.