Roller coaster engineers, also called roller coaster designers, are responsible for designing a roller coaster’s loops, drops and turns. Their main duties include creating the design of a track’s structure, electrical systems for a ride and finding ways to maximize the thrill of manipulating g-force in a safe way. If you are considering pursuing a career as a roller coaster designer, you can expect to make a lucrative salary in a fun industry.
As of May 2010, the national mean annual wage was $82,280 for civil engineers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This group included roller coaster engineers and designers. Fun Works reports that roller coaster engineers make annual salaries between $45,000 and $70,000 per year, depending on their degree levels and previous work experience. CB Salary reports that the national average salary for these engineering professionals was $67,992, as of June 2011. The 25th percentile earned an average of $53,036 per year, while the 75th percentile made an average annual salary of $95,032. These averages were based on years of experience and work location.
Salaries and Locations
Roller coaster engineers who work in certain parts of the U.S. can earn more than their counterparts in other areas. For example, according to CB Salary, roller coaster designers in Texas earned around $76,000 per year as of June 2011. Those in California earned an average of around $74,000 per year. Roller coaster engineers in Virginia earned an average of $73,902 per year. Those in Florida made an average of $62,186 per year.
Most roller coaster engineers work on teams with other engineers that specialize in several aspects of civil engineering, including structural and architectural engineers. They also consult with and work with mechanical and electrical engineers to complete the overall project. Most amusement parks hire these types of entry-level professionals to maintain and work on already-existing roller coasters, according to Graduating Engineer. After you gain this type of experience, you can possibly get your foot in the door with a roller coaster design firm.
The roller coaster engineer industry is very competitive, as there are not that many design firms and each one competes to build faster, higher and more complex versions than the others. Also, this type of career, and its salaries, is very economically sensitive. According to Graduating Engineer, when the economy is slow and amusement parks lose visitor traffic and revenue, roller coaster engineers don’t have much work, as parks are not ordering new roller coasters due to budget constraints.
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