Pyrotechnicians are the professionals responsible for special effects and fireworks displays involving the controlled use of explosives. Working in pyrotechnics involves serious risks, which training and experience--along with a knowledge of the materials and procedures involved--can help mitigate. In states such as New York, anyone who plans to oversee a pyrotechnic display must have a state license, which requires some form of training.
New York is among the states that requires all pyrotechnic display supervisors to hold state licenses. This requirement doesn't extend to assistants and technicians who help the licensed supervisor, though all workers can benefit from training. New York's Department of Labor oversees licensing and training requirements. A supervising pyrotechnician, known as an operator, may hold any one of three New York pyrotechnic licenses: Class A, Class B or Class C. A Class C license allows the holder to operate proximate shows, such as special effects for stage shows with an audience nearby. A Class B license gives the operator the right to oversee non-proximate shows, such as fireworks displays. Class A license holders can run both types of shows throughout New York.
The only form of training that New York requires for pyrotechnicians is on-the-job training from a licensed or experienced operator. The New York pyrotechnic license application requires applicants to include written and signed verification of work experience, including dates and locations of shows, specific duties and the name of the person in charge of the show. Due to changes in 2009 to New York's Department of Labor licensing process, unlicensed operators with job experience from before 2009 can provide on-the-job training to assistants; those assistants are still eligible to cite this work experience when applying for licenses of their own.
Since New York only requires on-the-job pyrotechnic training, the state doesn't recognize or host any formal training classes. However, private organizations do offer classes within New York. License applicants can cite pyrotechnic class completion on their applications to the Department of Labor. These classes focus on safety procedures, proper handling and use of pyrotechnic equipment and setup procedures for fireworks and stage shows. New York residents who aspire to earn pyrotechnic licenses may also take classes to help them pass the state's mandatory written exam, which is also a prerequisite for licensure.
Besides acquiring work experience and passing a written test, New York pyrotechnicians must comply with several additional requirements before they can earn licenses. One requirement is paying the state's licensing fee, which is $150 as of 2011. Applicants must also submit fingerprint records, which cost around $100, according to the state's Department of Labor.