FAA Shift Work and Schedules.

Well, first you would have to earn and save up enough Annual Leave hours. If he is a new federal employee earning only 4 hours for each 2-week pay period then it it's going to take 10 pay periods/20 weeks/5 months just to get the 40 hours for a week off.

After you calculate the date where you know he would have that much saved up, he can fill out the OPM-71 leave form months in advance with those days and his supervisor should be able to make a determination based on staffing or seniority if others have already requested those days.

It seems that with ATC, most facilities can only operate with a couple people gone at a given time, so getting the form filled out well in advance will help to lock in what you want.

In my past position I never really took a whole week off though. I just took a day or 2 here and there when I had stuff to do or just wanted a longer weekend. We had more than enough people that I could ask for the next day or 2 off and only got rejected like once or twice in 5 years. Other people would request a week off with very minimal notice as well and it was usually granted but I don't think it's going to be as flexible with ATC. I'm sure it varies greatly by facility though.

However, with the complexity of the job and the length of training and by some accounts I've read or heard of, asking for a full week off in the first year might not be the best idea. I can see a day or 2 here and there but I wouldn't think a whole week would be appreciated. You may have to postpone this year's vacation and save up for a better one the year after. I could be wrong though. Good luck!
I understand needing to earn the vacation time. I wasn't asking for taking time off immediately, I was asking more long term. We have already decided that we aren't getting a family vacation other than camping next year. Not enough money with just starting, plus he will be new and training a lot. I was wondering more if we had to for the next 25 years plan every day off we wanted the October before that year. The first year, the most we will do is take an day here or there for a longer weekend after the hours are earned. Thanks for answering my questions!
I know that this thread isn't addressing benefits, but maybe you guys can answer this question. Do ATC's get some sort of discount on flights??
I really think it is going to depend on how busy the facility is and how well they are staffed but you may just have to put in for leave a year in advance if you want to be guaranteed; or at least 6 months. He really won't know for sure until he is in there and working. Getting it in early (if you know the dates already) can be a big help.

There was a person at when I was with the TSA who would submit a leave form for every holiday of the year, all at once, at the beginning of the year. When the actual holiday got closer, and others started asking for it off, many people got denied because sometimes only 2-3 people could be let off those days. Then people just call in sick. :(

We had a big problem with sick calls even when holidays weren't involved. The sick leave policy was pretty liberal and there was usually enough staffing that we could operate. It wasn't comfortable or efficient but it could be done, just barely sometimes.
My husband isn't one to call in sick...even when he is sick. He has 5 set days he wants off - birthdays of all family members and our anniversary. Other than that, he can work with holidays if he has to. Hopefully he will get some off, but we aren't planning on it for the first few years - like 15. He will request some but with seniority and people always above him, we understand that will be hard.

Also - this is a great thread. Love having the so many questions answered in one place!
This is really useful info, thanks alot. I'm used to the shift work because of working for an airline, but maybe this is a newbie question, but do trainees end up working the massive amount of overtime that the experienced controllers are forced to work now?
I found shift info for my facility. Local 1 & Ground 1 are staffed 22-24 hours a day. Local 2 & Ground 2 are staffed 17 hours a day, and Clearance is staffed 18 hours a day.

The shift start times with # of CPCs are, 0600 (2), 0655 (10), 0730 (1), 1000 (1), 1300 (4), 1420 (4 or 3), 1530 (3 or 2), 1600 (1 or 3), 2215 (2), 2354 (2 Sunday only shift)

When two numbers are listed the second is the Saturday staffing, all others are the same
Just a heads up...be discreet when talking about shift schedules for specific facilities...scheduling information like that should be kept slightly confidential.
There are three controllers at MDW that work all midnights, all year round! Must get boring up there, there is hardly any traffic at night for MDW. Now O'Hare is a different story.
This info is great. Thanks so much for all why have posted. I am looking for a little more clarification as far as requesting time off. I understand that, if I am fortunate enough to make it through Oklahoma City and begin training at my facility, I will most likely be working weekends for many years before I have enough senoirity to get Saturdays off. In the mean time, I gather from other posts that one would have to fill out a form to request a day off, such as a Saturday for a wedding, etc. I am wondering if it is looked down upon by the FAA, to request time off in this way. Do they have the attitude that if you have acquired the time off, you use it? Or are they like other employers that I have had in the past who look down on people who request too much time off? I understand that it probably wouldn't be wise to try to request time off for every backyard BBQ in the summer, but I am hoping that, in choosing this career, I am not going to have to miss out on the big stuff, like weddings, christenings, and graduations. Any thoughts and advice would be appreciated. Thanks.