Jump to content
  TPR Home | Parks | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram 

Theme Park Careers


Recommended Posts

So ever since I was a little kid I have toyed with the idea of designing the giant steel and wooden beasts that we all know and love. I'm getting close to graduating from high school and I was wondering if anyone knew any steps or tips that would be helpful if I wanted to find out more about this career...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 60
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I would start by focusing on engineering and math if you want to do structural design, and theatrics if you are looking into doing theming or creative services (shows, parades, station pre-shows, etc). Both are very, very different, but almost equally as relevant in the theme park industry.

 

--Robb

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Thank you. Currently I'm considering Civil Engineering as my major. I plan to attend college at the University of Texas at Arlington, which is right down the road from my home and favorite park SFOT. I would like to get a job there, kind of get my feet wet in working around the coasters and maybe I can pick up something to get me towards my dream career.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had this dream when I was in high school. I guess it is something that a lot of themeparkfans have, but not many actually make the efforts to get there (They lose interest in that kind of job and only want to be on the hobby-side, just like myself).

 

I talked to some engineers at Vekoma (I used to live almost around the corner) and they advised the following; aircraftengineering or mechanical engineering (it seems calculations are quite simular). If you want to be an engineer making calculations al day! The part where you actually design coasters is somewhat different and takes other skills as well. I guess these can be developed on the job as you grow with every job you will have in the future (At least, that is the good part of having a job... Learning a lifetime).

 

Good luck and keep us posted!

 

Some other advice from my side which I always give to our interns: Looking for internships (Or jobs) won't get you the best possible spot. Actually taking the step and contacting with for instance GCI or Vekoma (I know both take interns) will get you further and will show the company you are motivated. Yes, it will take some effort and may not always work the first time. The sooner you are in touch with the right people, the longer you can build on a both-way relationship.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think most people who love coasters will want to design them after college (I admit I did when I started my mechanical engineering degree... but has changed).

 

Once you really see how un-glamorous the work is and what it entails, the hope of such an 'awesome' job kind of go out the window. It is a LOT of work doing an insane amount of boring calculations. Much of the fun work to me is done off-site with a subcontractor (steel fabrication, erection), along with many designs being contracted as well (Stengle, for example, does plenty of work for Intamin... Stengle also does force calculations and such). It takes years to go survey land, brainstorm a design, draft and calculate the design, fabricate the steel, etc... More to it than meets the eye, and much of it is extremely boring. The best part is coming up with new ideas and designs, the terrible part is turning those ideas into endless amounts of drawings in Solidworks/CAD.

 

Sure, I would still love to someday enter the field somehow... But I think as an Engineer, there is more 'interesting' work out there. Down to basics, the job is really not all that exciting. But really, at the engineering level, not much stuff is exciting

 

I have evolved to more aerospace engineering while currently getting my mechanical engineering degree, and currently at my third Coop/Internship.. Two of which have been with companies involved in aerospace specializing in civil and military aircraft. I am currently working at a company on a project involving the second largest forging press in the world (50,000 Ton Press) which forges aluminum for the joint strike fighter military jet. They also do aircraft fuselage ribbing for civil aircraft, as well as wheels, fasteners and other stuff for Boeing and Airbus. Pretty awesome stuff. Oh, and right here at the plant they forge and machine wheels for Ferrari, Porche, etc... Quite amazing to see.

 

If it is something you really want to do though and you fully understand the basics of that type of business, go for it! Hopefully you will be successful and be building some incredible rides for us in the future!

 

To answer your question though, get a Mechanical Engineering Degree. Civil would work as well, but mechanical will give you an edge, for sure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aye, I've wanted to be a designer since I was very young as well. I would take the advice of others, and go for mechanical engineering. Also aware of all the boring calculations that it includes, but if you really want the job, I would pursue it if I were you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too am currently a Civil Engineering student at URI. I have completed two years already and I have done well with a 3.6 GPA. I do want to be a roller coaster/ amusement ride designer, I would say its way too much work and stress if you have a very narrow view on what to do with it, have a backup, I enjoy building and taking things apart. I could also see myself working for a DOT. Engineering is no walk in the park, it is the second most difficult major under pharmacy. Math and Physics you must be extraordinary at and a willingness to work hard. If you major in Civil; concentrate in structural,Mechanical is good alone, and I think any engineering will do really. I mean I have a parent who is a Civil Engineer and at least 50% of the material you learn in college is never used. No degree is going to put you above someone else unless of course there was a roller coaster engineering degree wish there was! Engineering degrees are very general, work at an amusement park while studying engineering that will REALLY help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To answer your question though, get a Mechanical Engineering Degree. Civil would work as well, but mechanical will give you an edge, for sure.

I'd guess studying both would actually be ideal. Civil and Mechanical are fairly different, and both can be applied in any ride design project.

 

Making a career in ride design is likely very tough. There are probably no more than 100-200 people world wide who design roller coasters. You'll have to hustle, do good in school, and probably get a bit lucky. Keep your options open - perhaps you could land a job designing water slides, play structures, flat rides - whatever! Roller coasters aren't the only way to get into the industry.

 

Engineering is no walk in the park, it is the second most difficult major under pharmacy.

That's really an opinion. Some people easily excel at some things, while others can not. I mean, hell, engineering alone is too broad to make such a statement. I may be able to do Aerospace Engineering, but I doubt I could do BioMed or Nuclear/Radiological Engineering -- they're just very different things. It varies by school too (ie, CS was considered the bitch at my school), and may even boil down to what professors you get.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Like many people here I went through most of elementary school, all of high school and entered university with the dream of designing coasters, but I've come to realize it's a lot easier said than done.

To get into any engineering job you are going to have to be smart, determined, and very hard working. Universities tend to weed plenty of students out in the first and second year of engineering programs to make sure they're only teaching the ones that really want to be there and have shown they can do it.

 

The best advice I can give is you to hope for the best, but have a couple of back-up plans. For instance, my biggest dream is to still be an Imagineer, but if I can't do that I'd love to work in some kind of transport field (trains, planes, or ships), or even send my resume to Proslide and White Water West (both of which wouldn't require me to leave Canada).

 

For the record, I'm going into my 4th and final year of mechanical engineering, but it will be my 6th year at the school after falling behind to redo some classes with poor marks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Win the lottery, buy a park.

 

Ditto what Robb said. Engineering and math for the actual designing of the ride, graphics, design, and art for the theming side of it. Although, if you look into imagineering, there are tons of different fields to look into.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

^Not too much, other than using third-party tools that are almost completely math (Purgatorium). Although, Purgatorium will only give you the idea on how a formula translates into track, not all the other things included. So far, few people have used Purgatorium (other than redunzelizer, the creator) for years. It's really really hard.

 

NoLimits straight up through handbuilding isn't realistic though. And, even if you are a master at NoLimits, it doesn't guarantee you're fit for coaster engineering; it just helps you connect dots.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

I've been looking all around the internet for information on this stuff, and I thought it would be a good idea to get some input on here as well. I, obviously, hope to one day after graduating college getting a career in a theme park, (Busch Gardens to be specific). I'm really good at math and science, so naturally I hope to work in an areas of engineering and mechanics. I've been most interested in being a park engineer or maybe the head of a park maintenance team. So I want to ask, how much do these jobs make, what classes should i take in college for this type of stuff, and does a park engineer design the roller coasters for the park? I really hope to help in the area of designing/maintaining the coasters. Thanks peoples

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honestly, at your age, I would write an email or call them directly. I'm sure they would be happy to spend a few minutes talking with you and discussing things. They might want to tell you how much they make, but they might give you a general figure. They probably will also tell you about experience and knowledge you should have when pursuing such a career. Have fun and enjoy!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It really depends. I know KD has a "list" of specialists that they hire for each season. They need plumbers, mechanics, electricians etc, etc. But "Wayne," the head of Maintainance, has worked there for a LONG time and has "earned" his position. That's one way of going about things. If you want to design coasters, I would think a structural engineer is the most fitting degree "route". In that case, you will most likely work for Intamin, B&M, GCI etc, etc... If you want to be on the "selection" committee for a specific theme park, I would think business management would be the best degree. You would most likely intern there for a while then move into the HR department, then general park management, then move up and up and up etc...

 

Oh and pretty much all those positions, will make you enough to live on your own

 

Hope that helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Glad that I found this thread. Always good to discuss potential theme park careers with fellow enthusiests.

 

Anyways, I'd like to throw myself into this. I've gone through about 5 years of various college topics (mainly buisness, communication, and pop culture for the sake of this topic), all while maintaining a summer job as a ride operator at Coney Island in Cincinnati. I now have a decent foothold in the industry, but because Cincinnati CI is a small traditional park, and VASTLY overshadowed by its big little siter Kings Island (remember, KI wouldn't exist if Coney hadn't migrated inland after the flood of '72), I still have a ways to go. Am I satisfied? Being a ride op is a great job, and it has given me opportunities to work with attractions, ticket sales, and customer service. Unfortunately, from what I've seen the amusement industry isnt too profitable on a low seasonal level, and pretty hard to move up the ladder (atleast at a smaller park).

 

As an enthusiest who lives for the summer, I'd love to make a living off of theme parks. Unfortunately jobs are few and inbetween....does anyone know of anything else in a related field that would work as a full time job or an adequate field of study? As of right now, I'm working slowly on a Communication degree while working as a Gameroom Attendant at Chuck E Cheese....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the only reason you want to become an engineer and design coasters is because you think NoLimits is fun to play, then you need to realize playing around in NoLimits is like 1% of actual coaster engineering. The other 99% is tedious calculations and analysis and testing. That's like saying I like to play Call of Duty so I'm going to go join the army.

 

And always have a backup plan. The coaster industry is tiny, and as such the chances of you landing a job being a "coaster designer" is slim to nill. If roller coasters are the only thing about engineering you're interested in, you're going to be severely disappointed after working your butt off for 4+ years (while your friends in other majors have a lot more fun in college) and then finding no openings. So if you do go the engineering route, make sure you do so because you like engineering and you're willing to work in any industry.

 

And even then park maintenance versus engineering are two totally different beasts and paths to take. They're not really related. One requires just working your way up and experience but not necessarily college, and the other requires years of college (and some experience too).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After some advice given to me, I spent a good few years getting into Mechanical Engineering. I've always wanted to work in the industry but I never knew how. After two years on the course I realised it wasn't my strength, I fell ill and developed anxiety! I struggled and eventually decided it was best for me to leave, it was very difficult as I assumed it was my only way to get involved in rollercoasters, and I felt I was throwing away the four years I spent redoing A-levels and a foundation year to get on the course. I feel I made the right decision though, as the course was really making me depressed.

 

I'm happily working in the city now, although in retail. But nothings tying me down anymore, so I need to figure out what to do with my life. I'd love a job in the industry, I think it would be extremely niave to say I'd want to design rollercoasters, but to just be involved in how a park is run would be great. Need to figure out what step to take the next few months, daunting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

As an enthusiest who lives for the summer, I'd love to make a living off of theme parks. Unfortunately jobs are few and inbetween....does anyone know of anything else in a related field that would work as a full time job or an adequate field of study? As of right now, I'm working slowly on a Communication degree while working as a Gameroom Attendant at Chuck E Cheese....

 

From my experience you got to move where the full time jobs are. With this industry being as small as it is you must go to the jobs and can't hope and wait for a job to open up around you. My best recommendation would be to move to Orlando or SoCal where you can go full time in a front line position. Disney, Universal and Sea World all have programs to help groom people for leadership (at least here in Orlando) and if you work hard you could move up to a lead probably after a year and a manager after two. Get some management experience and then move to a park elsewhere. Where is a park like Coney Island or Kings Island by you may have only one full time opening a year if that, the year-round parks are always looking for management at all levels in all areas.

 

If you are looking to stay in the area then Chuck E Cheese is good that you are at least in a customer service role but I would recommend looking at hotels. A good website to check is HCareers.Com. Hotels, especially larger ones, operator similar in structure to a theme park. Just by reading the job descriptions of management job posting throughout the industry I have been surprised how often parks are looking for people with hotel experience because not only do they no the customer service piece but working at a hotel, especially at a management level, lets you really learn the processes of revenue management and finance in the hospitality industry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

As an enthusiest who lives for the summer, I'd love to make a living off of theme parks. Unfortunately jobs are few and inbetween....does anyone know of anything else in a related field that would work as a full time job or an adequate field of study? As of right now, I'm working slowly on a Communication degree while working as a Gameroom Attendant at Chuck E Cheese....

 

From my experience you got to move where the full time jobs are. With this industry being as small as it is you must go to the jobs and can't hope and wait for a job to open up around you. My best recommendation would be to move to Orlando or SoCal where you can go full time in a front line position. Disney, Universal and Sea World all have programs to help groom people for leadership (at least here in Orlando) and if you work hard you could move up to a lead probably after a year and a manager after two. Get some management experience and then move to a park elsewhere. Where is a park like Coney Island or Kings Island by you may have only one full time opening a year if that, the year-round parks are always looking for management at all levels in all areas.

 

So, I'm interested in backstage work at theme parks, like stage/show management basically...currently I'm a manager in a restaurant, and live fairly close to SFOT...I'm pretty sure most such jobs there would be seasonal, yes?

 

So, do you think it would be better to stay where I'm at until I get some debts paid off, and can afford to move to SoCal or Orlando/Tampa, or do you think it would be better to get experience in the park industry, and then try and move?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use https://themeparkreview.com/forum/topic/116-terms-of-service-please-read/