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Workforce Wednesday: Becoming a pyrotechnician

By Daybreak Staff 1:22 PM December 28, 2016

Becoming a pyrotechnician involves math and physics, according to Ashleigh Russell with Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium. It’s not just lighting fuses.

“You need to know where to put your fireworks, primary fireworks as well as fallout zone where it’s safe for the crowd,” said Russell.

Another aspect of the job includes many long days, according to Mike Bowen with Lantis Fireworks and Lasers Alaska.

“We set up the equipment, wire the fireworks, load them and then we’ll test our system,” said Bowen. “Then there’s the tear down and clean up afterwards.”

Working as a pyrotechnician is contract based. A technician can earn around 10% of those contracts. Bowen said those contracts can range from $5,000 to $20,000.

The skills learned in launching fireworks also translate to jobs in mining and construction, Russell said. The physics and arithmetic used when working with fireworks is equivalent to jobs with Usibelli Coal Mine, for example.

To start a career as a “pyro,” a person would have to take the Alaska state fireworks exam to get a license to operate. Lantis is currently accepting applications. Bowen mentioned that larger companies in the Lower 48 offer classroom training for pyrotechnicians.

For more information, visit APICC’s website.

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