Carnivals are a classic American tradition. Most states, counties and even large cities enjoy their yearly visit from an amusement company who brings rides, games, deep-fried Oreos and other fun activities in for a carnival. If you are good at drawing a crowd to yourself, consider a career in operating carnival amusements. If you are mechanically savvy, help this industry by being a ride inspector or work with a team to design and build the rides.
If you are looking for some side income and you have a carnival coming to town, contact your local chamber of commerce to get contact information for the fair operator. Most carnivals hire a few locals to cover certain amusements during a local fair to save themselves the expense of bringing a larger crew from city to city. While you will not be asked to operate large rides such as a Ferris wheel due to specialized training and liability, you may have the opportunity to make some kids smile while running a game on the midway or assisting with a pony ride.
Career in the Carnival
If you are willing to travel with the amusement company, search for popular carnival operators on the Internet and apply directly through their websites. Travelling amusement workers must be at least 18 years old for many carnivals. Expect to need to pass a criminal background check during the hiring phase, although you may be considered even with convictions in your past as long as they are not crimes against people, especially children.
If you enjoy the carnival and are a mechanical engineer or are experienced in machine repair and maintenance, consider one of the many careers inspecting amusement rides for safety. There are three primary groups of inspections for amusement park rides: independent inspection firms who often work with insurers; state government inspectors; and locals who are charged with protecting fair-goers. Independent firms such as members of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions work with government authorities to set standards and best practices for maintaining and inspecting rides. State governments vary on which branch of the state regulates and inspects amusement parks and carnivals, with some states using their department of labor while others their department of agriculture or another department to verify ride safety and provide licenses. Some local governments will hire an additional building inspector or engineer to administer a permit process for carnival amusements.
Build Carnival Amusement Rides
If you are an engineer and enjoy the carnival, consider a career designing and manufacturing carnival amusement rides. While many amusement ride companies build their rides overseas, some still build and produce parts for them domestically. Ride manufacturers typically require you have at least a bachelor's degree in engineering and be strong in computer modeling. You will need good communication skills as you will be working with a team in product design and production and must be completely accurate to prevent a catastrophic ride failure and potential loss of life.
- Skerbeck Brothers Shows: Our Workforce
- ATA Associates, Inc.: Amusement Ride Safety and Accident Reconstruction
- Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: Amusement Rides
- Arkansas Department of Labor: Administrative Regulations of the Arkansas Amusement Ride and Amusement Attraction Safety Insurance Act
- Fabbri Group: Products
- Ital International LLC: New Amusement Rides for Sale
- BobHolland.com: Ride Companies
- McGraw-Hill: Civil Engineer: Roller Coaster Designer
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 39-3091 Amusement and Recreation Attendants
- Kidz World: Work at an Amusement Park!
- Carnival Midways: Directory
- Amusements of America: Employment Application
- Dreamland Amusements: Job Opportunities with a Carnival
- Amusing the Zillion: Summer Jobs: From Coney Island to the Carnival Midway
- Midway of Fun: Brass Ring Amusements / Midway of Fun Employment Opportunities
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images