Roller coaster careers - advice needed!

ThatStrangeKid42's avatar

Being one of the "select few" underage enthusiasts on this site (as far as I can see), I 1) do indeed consider myself to be coaster fanatic, and 2) am unemployed at this very moment. It didn't take me long to put 2 and 2 together and decide I might want a long-term career related to coasters and/or theme parks.

I was just wondering if anybody had any suggestions or advice. But first, here's some important things to know:

1. The most important point to make - I have difficulty working in groups, just keep that in mind. In other words, I work best in and prefer solo work.

2. I consider myself a decently creative person (no egotism intended). I've played and very much enjoyed using RCT and NoLimits.

3. I live in the Cleveland, OH area, in case if anybody was wondering.

Any suggestions or advice is and will be highly appreciated. Thank you!

Raven-Phile's avatar

Difficulty working in groups?

Doesn't sound like the career path for you.

I am also interested in this career path as I plan to be a mechanical engineer of some sorts when I am older. My parents told me I spend to much time on coasterbuzz and NoLimits, so they told me to get some books. They gave me $30 and I went to Amazon and got books on theme park design. They are really good books for learning how to get in this field of work.

Book 1: Coasters 101, An Engineer's Guide to Roller Coaster Design

This one talks about the physics and etc of roller coasters and how they are made. It also has a chapter in it about how to become a roller coaster engineer.

Book 2: Theme Park Design, Behind the Scenes with an Engineer

This one is about theme park design in general. It's not just about roller coasters, but it's written from a Disney World perspective. I liked Coasters 101 better, but this one was still interesting.

These books will help you a lot.

ThatStrangeKid42's avatar

I have the latter of those two (love the author's sense of humor). But I'll definitely look into the first one. Thanks!

Raven-Phile's avatar

Tyler Boes said:
My parents told me I spend to much time on coasteruzz

See, even your parents don't like your posting here. It's a sign, man.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Oh man. We have the next Bolliger & Mabillard right here in our midst.

ApolloAndy's avatar

The quantity of people who want this career vs. the number of people qualified to do so and the amount of room there is in the industry suggests that you should have a backup plan.

Just like video game design it requires quite a bit of talent, but also a tremendous amount of hard work and willingness to do crappy, boring stuff. It's not just about coming up with good ideas.

I would guess the vast majority of people who think they want a career in the amusement industry (95+%) don't realize and aren't willing to do all the tedious stuff that it requires and just want to daydream for money.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Lord Gonchar's avatar

I'm convinced working in the amusement industry is as simple as learning No Limits and applying for a job as Lead Coaster Designer.

The choice will be mine because they'll be fighting over me after they see the sweet YouTube videos I make.

bjames's avatar

I'd wager quite a bit that designing roller coasters is much less fun than the OP thinks it would be.

LostKause's avatar

I would suggest getting into either park management or ride maintenance.

The problem here is that the jobs creating coasters and their layouts are few and far between. I don't want to sound discouraging, because I believe that you can do absolutely anything you want to do if you work hard enough at it, but you might be disappointed by just how difficult it can be to get a job designing coasters. The people getting a job like that are probably extremely talented and smart.

I would look for a career in something amusement park related that is easier to get into. Even jobs like that are kind of hard to get. I worked at Cedar Point early in my life, thinking that I wanted to work there the rest of my life, but I quickly noticed just how many people wanted to work their way up the ladder the same way I was planning to. They offer very few full-time jobs there, and the competition for them is fierce. You first of all have to be the right kind of person that the park is looking for, with the right kind of personality and attitude. Second of all, you have to be able to work extremely long hours, sometimes with no days off for a whole season.

There are many other jobs at theme parks too. My advice would be to work a few seasons at Cedar Point, Kings Island, or Kennywood, because of where you live, and see just what makes that park tick. Doing so will allow you to see the different positions that make the business run, and ask questions to other working there to figure out what you might be interested in doing at a park.

You said that you are a creative type? You could work as a painter or sign designer, for example. Or maybe a groundskeeper? What about working as a carpenter on the wood coasters? Perhaps working as an entertainer or managing the entertainment sounds interesting to you? There are all kinds of paths to choose.

And while you are there, try to become friendly with management, and let them know your intentions. Maybe even ask them to help you to reach your goals. Always be willing to help out and do extra. Pull more than your own weight. Always ask, "Is there anything I can do to help you?" when speaking to your managers. Never let them see you mad or discouraged. Maybe go to college in the offseason and get an education pertaining to management or maintenance. That would show real dedication to get to your goal.

Taking the easy way to a career in the amusement park industry will probably be unsuccessful. Hard work and sacrifice is the only way to get there.

And good luck. I had trouble doing it because I enjoy my freedom a little bit too much, and I wasn't patient enough to wait for an opening. Most of the stuff I have been writing in this post is my hindsight. I think I lacked a certain level of maturity back then, and I am okay with it now. I kind of wished I would have focused on achieving what I wanted instead of letting other less important things distract me.


"CoasterBuzz - It feels like home" :)

Break Trims's avatar

I actually think your odds are better to be an astronaut than a coaster designer.

Also, unless you're the next Salinger, the ability to work in a group (or at least make friends/contacts) is pretty essential to any career that pays good coin.

Parallel lines on a slow decline.

blasterboy6500's avatar

As much as I'd love to be some kind of coaster engineer, not many people set out to be one, and even less actually become one. One kid in high school, though, as part of a year-round study program built his own coaster in his backyard. The result? He's in college no, and he'll be working with come designers or something of the sort in a job in Chicago.

You don't need a parachute to jump out of an airplane. You need one to do it again.
Jeff's avatar

The thing is, working "in the industry" doesn't mean designing rides, and nothing else. If you're a successful chef, you could work in catering or some other part of food service. If you like accounting, you could work in the financial part of the business. Heck, if you write software, you could work in that too. ;)

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Lord Gonchar's avatar

If you're familiar with the latest in broom technology, you could be a midway sweep.

kpjb's avatar

I see what Jeff did there.


ThatStrangeKid42's avatar

This all amazing advice, guys. I'm not the least bit discouraged anyway - constuctive criticism actually helps me in a way! So I thank you all!

LostKause's avatar

Building on what Gonch wrote, a good idea might be to decide what you might want to do with your life, and then see if that fits into something amusement park related, much like Gonch's chef example.


"CoasterBuzz - It feels like home" :)

I speak from expierence work at two different parks (a season at Cedar Point pulling trash and into my second season on Grounds @ Canobie Lake) that working "in the biz" is not glamorous by any means, but it does give you a differnt prospective about parks in general.

I work the park as a second weekend job, but I find it fun. Grounds can give you a chance to be a painter with plants. We've come up with some cool desihns using very common plants.

My advice for getting in the door is this: look for jobs that are kind of behind the sceens and that aren't exacly on the front lines. EVERYBODY wants to work in rides, but they can be repetive & borning. The grounds/ maintaince departments are like the "roadies" for the park. we work away from guests most of the time, but if we do our job right, all they see is how great everything looks and how the rides always seem to be in top shape. Plus, at least at Canobie, there is a family aspect to us "behind the sceens" guys.

I wish you the best on your quest!

Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

That's exactly why I want to be a mechanical engineer. If I get the chance to use it for roller coasters, I'll take it. If I don't get that chance, I'll try to get a job with one of the many other mechanical engineering jobs.

kpjb's avatar

If you like traveling to different parks and riding a bunch of coasters, a career in the industry is not for you. You want to work at a ski resort or something where you can get a lot of free time in the summer.


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