A person who wants to become a pyrotechnician will probably start off working as a volunteer for a local fireworks company. He or she will participate in a number of shows under the supervision of more experienced crew members. Over time, the volunteer is given more responsibility, until he or she reaches the point of taking on the responsibilities associated with a display operator's assistant. Depending on how quickly the future pyrotechnician masters art and science of putting together fireworks shows, the process to become a display operator can take between 12 and 36 months.
In most parts of the United States, a person who wants to become a pyrotechnician must be at least 18 years old before he or she will be allowed to work on a crew at a show. Some states require pyrotechnics operators to be 21 years of age or older. Prospective pyrotechnicians will be expected to undergo a criminal record check, even if they are participating in a fireworks show on a volunteer basis.
Some states have passed regulations directing that all pyrotechnicians must be licensed. In those parts of the country, the individual who wants to become a pyrotechnician would need to pass a test to become certified. The certified pyrotechnician would pay a fee each year to keep his or her license current.
A display operator may be required to obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) to transport fireworks from one location to another. Federal laws in the United States require that a person who wants to get a CDL to pass a written examination. The test is administered by the state, and is made up of at least 30 questions. To pass the exam, the applicant must get a mark of at least 80 percent.
Along with the written test, the driver must demonstrate that he or she can operate a commercial vehicle safely. For this portion of the testing process, the person drives a vehicle of a similar class and weight to the one he or she will be operating after receiving the CDL. When the license is issued, it will list the classes the driver has been approved for and include his or her photograph.
In some cases, the person who wants to become a pyrotechnician will also need to get a hazardous material endorsement on his or her commercial license. Before this endorsement can be issued, the applicant must show that he or she is not a security risk. An application form and the person's fingerprints must be forwarded to the Transport Security Administration for processing before the endorsement can be issued.