Pyrotechnicians are trained explosive professionals who specialize in the conception, design and execution of fireworks shows at private resorts or at public or special events. Pyrotechnicians are primarily independent contractors whose earnings are based on a per-show rate. A licensed pyrotechnician can earn anywhere from $100 to $2,000 per show. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the pyrotechnic industry claimed $952 million of market share in 2010.
Starting Salary Range
Entry-level positions in pyrotechnics are often undertaken on a volunteer basis. The American Pyrotechnic Association claims that most budding pyrotechnicians apprentice on a volunteer basis for at least three to six fireworks shows while being evaluated on performance and safety practice, a process that can take between one and three years. The association states that many U.S. pyrotechnicians pursue the field as a second job in concert with an alternative means of employment, and that this group only consists of 3 percent of the nation's population.
Professional Technician Salary Range
According to the educational analysis resource Education Portal, trained, licensed and experienced pyrotechnicians can earn up to $2,000 per show. This translates roughly to a pre-tax hourly rate of between $500 and $666 an hour. Education Portal also states that low-level pyrotechnician professionals working with a pyrotechnician firm earn roughly $30 to $65 an hour. These figures are similar to 2010 data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which places the highest percentile wages of uncategorized entertainment employees at $33.27 per hour, or about $69,200 annually before deductions.
Factors Affecting Earnings
Like other roles that employ independent contractors, earnings in the pyrotechnic industry can vary given success of past performance, reputation, clean safety record and knowledge of all applicable local laws concerning the particular field. Many professional pyrotechnicians are part-time employees of theme parks, fairs and stadiums and earn a steady rate per show. Pyrotechnicians who, through experience, make their way to the level of show operator can earn considerably more than the individuals tasked with lower-tier responsibilities, like unloading, setup and post-show cleanup.
Relevant Background & Experience
Aspiring pyrotechnicians should be at least ages 18 to 21, depending on the parameters laid forth by state law. A display operator permit, commercial driver's license and hazmat, or hazardous materials, license may also be required depending on state law. Above all, individuals interested in a career in pyrotechnics should be well versed and trained the numerous potential dangers and hazards inherent with working with explosives, knowledge that can be attained through on-the-job training with an established firm or through general or collegiate level coursework in pyrotechnics, chemistry or explosives.