Dispatcher to Air Traffic Controller??


Well-Known Member
Hi All. I posted this same topic on atcmonitor.com. But I figured I'd put this here too…..

I found this board the other day when looking for info on ATC jobs. I have always had an interest in the back of my head to come work as an Air Traffic Controller. I am a month from turning 30 so I figure the June 30th posting could be my last shot.

I am confronted with a tough choice here: I am a dispatcher for a major airline. I have 12 years with the company and 3 years as a dispatcher. I get paid well and have a nice schedule. I have no retirement anymore. The only thing I have now is my own 401k. The company did away with the pensions back in 2005.

I have discussed this opportunity in depth with my wife. She is comfortable with me have to take huge paycut while in OKC and not being able to recover to what my current salary is for another 2 years or so.

The thing that has me really leaning the ATC way is job security and retirement. Any thoughts on that? With the way airlines and fuel are, if it goes much higher and with mergers I may be pushed out of dispatch. I have about 30 people under me.

The thing I would miss most is my work schedule, time off (three days a week), and vacation (4 weeks/year). I am willing to trade that though for a secure future and retirement. I love my job, but it may not be worth hanging around.

Any thoughts from anyone?????

Thanks for the input. Have a nice day!


New Member
I really don't know. One of the questions I would ask myself If I payed to get the dispatchers liscense is "is it worht the money invested?" Granted that the aviation knowledge picked up in the process is very valuable. You have already covered the big one "is my family on board for the decission?" I guess it comes down to trying to look into the future and saying what will happen if this doesn't pan out. However having the ADX is a good thing. Airlines will always need dispatchers no matter what happens.


Well-Known Member
Thanks for the advice so far! Anyone else? I will definitely be submitting the app by June 30th. Still plenty of time after that to ponder!


New Member
To me a good retirement is a huge part of my families future financial stability. I would have stayed as a contract controller with Midwest for the rest of my life because I had weekends off, no mid shifts and slightly better pay than my current FAA pay but they only offered a 401k and extremely expensive health insurance at $650 a month. Looking back, I made a good decision.



New Member
I think you should take the chance also. I would apply to the June 30th posting, take the AT-SAT, go to the PEPC and they will give you a tentative letter of what facility you are going to. You will then have an idea how much you will make etc. You can always turn the offer down. Even though you get paid well and have a nice schedule dispatching, do you want to work when you’re 60+ because you have no retirement? At least with a government job everyone is in trouble if you have no retirement package. The temporary pay cut seems to be okay with the wife so that’s a big plus.

I think the secure work environment and retirement package will pay off in the long run better than your excellent work schedule, time off and vacation dispatching airplanes.