Andrew Sheen is a showperson at a fair on the Lincolnshire coast. He works in the family business, which he has done since he left school.
What is your main role?
My main role is running the dodgems ride at the fair. In addition, as a managing director in the family business, I have to ensure that we attract a lot of customers so that we make enough money to earn a living and keep the business going.
What do you do each day?
I work with members of my family and three employees. I arrive at the fair at 10am. My employees polish the dodgem cars while I inspect the dodgem cars and the track, making sure that everything is safe. We sweep the track and polish the safety signs so that everything is clean and looks fine.
When the customers start arriving I sit in the cash box, selling tokens to them. I use a microphone to entice more customers onto the ride. When we have enough riders, I check the track to make sure there isn't anybody on there that shouldn't be there. I then make a safety announcement to the riders and set off the ride. During the ride, I watch the cars and track carefully to check that everyone is alright.
I do this all day until 10.00pm, taking breaks when I an. At the end of the day, we lock up the ride.
What do you do if your ride breaks down?
If the ride breaks down, I have to fix it. There is no other option. I spend time maintaining the ride using a range of tools such as spanners, screwdrivers, air compressors and welding equipment. This means that the rides don't break down all that often.
What qualities do you need to be a fairground worker?
You need common sense and a sense of humour to work on a fairground so that you can deal with any situation that may arise.
What training have you had?
I grew up around fairground rides and have learned everything on the job. I still find that I am learning all the time.
What do you like about your job?
I like the fact that I work with most of my family and my friends, and I can listen to music while I carry out my job. I also get to meet lots of different people and there is a great deal of variety in my work.
What do you dislike about your job?
I don't like the long hours, getting dirty and greasy while fixing the dodgem cars, and dealing with difficult customers.
- GNVQ in Business.
Andrew's fairground worker tips
- Get as many qualifications as you can.
- Don't go into the work thinking it is going to be easy.
Fairground related jobs
- Engineering maintenance fitter
- Cinema/theatre attendant
- Holiday centre worker/manager
- Leisure centre assistant
- Leisure centre manager
Salary of a fairground worker
- Income for a showperson or fairground worker starts at about £8,800 a year.
- With experience this may rise to around £10,500 a year.
- In a supervisory role it is possible to earn £15,000 a year or more.
- Many fairground businesses are family-run, with jobs passed down from one member of the family to the next. however, there are also opportunities to become an employee.
- There are no set qualifications for operating fairground rides, although to operate a ride, you must be at least 18. Assistants on children's rides may start at 16.
- Training at fairgrounds is usually carried out on the job by shadowing more experienced workers and learning through experience. It may be possible to do an NVQ Level 2 in Mechanical Ride Operations.
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