Fireworks: Who’s Behind the Magic?

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Audience: Elementary and Middle School Students

On the 4th of July more than 14,000 firework displays go off every year. Have you ever wondered who creates them? Who’s in charge of making the beautiful designs? Who makes sure they go off safely? That’s the job of a pyrotechnic engineer.

Pyrotechnic engineers work through the entire process of creating and setting off fireworksfrom chemical testing of which substances should react to produce the best explosion, to measuring the timing to make sure they erupt in a specific order.

Crowds of people come together to see the beautiful fireworks display. Photo by Sharosh Rajasekher from Unsplash.

In order to get a job as a pyrotechnic engineer, one needs to have a degree in chemistry as well as knowledge of mathematics, physics, and engineering. Some pyrotechnic engineers also need to pass a safety course for training and certification. This ensures that they really know what they’re doingmaking fireworks isn’t only fun and games!

Creating explosives is a dangerous job. Working with chemicals can result in serious problems, such as setting a whole building up in flames!

Applying physics and math also prevents fireworks from burning down forests and towns. Using their knowledge of physics and math, pyrotechnic engineers must calculate how high the firework must go in order for it to explode safely and not drop any sparks on nearby trees or buildings.

A scientist mixes chemicals together to create a new product. Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng from Unsplash.

Besides having to worry about all the technical details and safety measures that go into creating fireworks, pyrotechnic engineers get to be creative and have lots of fun! They mix colors to create beautiful designs you see in the fireworks and decide which fireworks will go off at which time. For example, if a sports game or concert wants to have a fireworks display, pyrotechnic engineers decide what design they will send off at a touchdown or the finale.

A pyrotechnic engineer is not a well-known job, but it’s definitely interesting. Researching different types of existing jobs can help you figure out what you might want to do in the future. Although some job fields might not be very popular and are not often discussed, they still play a significant role in our lives. It’s important to recognize and appreciate them as well!


Price, Sterling. “Fourth of July 2020: Who Uses the Most Fireworks in the US?” ValuePenguin, 26 June 2020,,the%20most%20fireworks%20coming%20from%3F. “Pyrotechnic Engineer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements.”, 30 September 2019,,a%20license%20in%20some%20states.

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