Can You Be a Roller Coaster Tester?
By Eric Hammer
Depending on your definition of the term "roller coaster
tester," you are very likely to be disappointed right now.
If your definition of the term is someone who gets to ride in
experimental roller coasters to see if they are safe, sorry to
tell you, the companies that build and operate roller coasters
wouldn't be dumb enough to take chances with live human beings
for roller coaster testers. All roller coasters built today are
tested first in a computer simulation, then in a scale model
and finally with crash dummies loaded with sensors to make sure
they are safe.
Putting a human being in there to be a roller coaster tester,
no matter how many times you sign your name to a form that says
you grant them indemnity if you get killed or injured on the
ride would be just plain stupid. The park and manufacturer would
be opening themselves up to litigation. Not to mention that crash
test dummies with sensors can give them much more information
than you could.
Now, if by roller coaster tester you mean the handful of people
who get to ride the coaster first, in a kind preview, it's possible
to do that. You simply have to contact the parks where they are
being built and ask to be put on a list. However, this is not
a job and you will not get a dime for your trouble. The parks
have more than enough volunteers willing to come in for free
and often, they don't bother with this at all. If they do it,
it's because they want to generate some excitement by creating
a news story.
Now that we've disappointed you, here's what you can do as
a roller coaster tester: you can inspect the rides to make sure
they are fully safe. Typically, the operator will do this and
then an inspector from the park and or the state where the roller
coaster operates will come in to check and make sure (though
these people inspect all the rides, not just the coasters).
You may also be able to get a job designing roller coasters
for the companies that build them. This is also a kind of "roller
coaster tester," because you'll be checking the computer
designs to make sure they are working correctly.
How Much Can You Make?
As previously noted, a roller coaster tester in the sense
that most people think of one simply doesn't exist as a job.
However, if you want to test roller coasters as an engineer on
the design team, the salary ranges from around $65,000-$85,000
per year according to Salary Expert.
If you want to be a roller coaster tester in the sense of
being an inspector (which generally means inspecting all the
rides in a park, not just the coasters), the salary ranges from
around $30,000-$40,000 per year.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Keep in mind that there are relatively few companies in the
entire world that design roller coasters. Therefore, becoming
a roller coaster designer in order to test the rides is extremely
difficult. There are also no formal schools for this. Instead,
you would go to engineering school and then learn on the job.
If all you want to do is ride the roller coasters all day,
you can try to get on lists to be first to ride at new coasters,
however this, as we said is not a job and will not pay anything.
Editor's Note: One reader has suggested a
possible business venture that essentially makes you a paid roller
coaster tester. The idea is to ride coasters all across the country
and rate them for various factors (comfort, thrill level, uniqueness,
desire to tell others about it) and create a report that is then
sold to amusement parks and ride makers. Interviews and surveys
of other riders would add additional value if you try this.
Qualifications / Requirements
You'll need a degree in engineering in order to build roller
coasters. Inspectors for amusement parks, who work as, among
other things, roller coaster testers need to have at least a
college degree, preferably also in engineering in order to be
able to evaluate the safety of the rides.
Start by going to engineering school. Then, contact manufacturers
of roller coasters (there is a list below) to ask about jobs
with them. You'll need to work your way up to become a designer.
If you want to work as an amusement ride inspector, you need
to contact the local amusement parks licensing board to find
out what their specific requirements are (each state has their
own individual rules).