Pursuing ATC as a possible career (long post)..but i need opinions.

cessna2351

Well-Known Member
Hi everyone,

I'm currently a senior in high school and am at the metophorical crossroads of my life per se. I have taken flight lessons in Cleveland (KBKL) for the past year or so and just completed my pre-solo test...(money got a little tight so i had to put it off for awhile...thats why it took so long...you get the point).

Anyway, for as long as I can remember, I've been interested in ATC and aviation. During the summer I've driven up to Cleveland Hopkins, parked my car in a little drive on Brookpark Rd (just north of the field), and sat there with my scanner and listened to all of the BTA and COA planes come in during their banks. After an hour or so, the airport "cop"..*cough cough* would tell me to leave or he would call the Cleveland police
.

Anyway, I've been accepted to both ERAU campuses. As a matter of fact I'm flying down to Florida this Sunday to look at the DAB campus, and then in March to PRC. I've always wanted to be a pilot but am starting to think of the sacrifices that need to be made for this career ( You know, family and other "perks" of living at home that are usually taken for granted, football games on sundays {for me its the browns and cavs
}, bbq's, etc).

I've done a little research and discovered that ATC is one of the highest government paid jobs...i found a site that said the median earnings for american ATC is over 80k dollars. Now I figure thats sounds a little higher than it probably is but it is still eye-catching.

I've toured KZOB ( the cleveland center facility before) and have spent an entire afternoon "chilling" in the KBKL tower. I personally find local and ground controlling alot more exciting, but thats just me.

Should I consider drifting away from a pilot career. I'm a person who would be content living in the same city for my life and naturally seek a job with good benefits ($$) and a moderate amount of excitement (is this the right word?..you know what i mean).

I could really use any advice, wisdom, proverbs...anything


Thanks in advance

Mike McM
 

aloft

New Member
ATC is probably the safer choice, but even that's not a given with Bush's sights set on privatizing it.

The FAA is only hiring controllers from certain schools right now, if you're at all certain that's what you want to do, search them out. I don't know if ERAU is one of them or not.
 

Tim06

New Member
I know you need guts to try and help us with all of our practice approaches!


Seriously though, I wish you luck on whatever path you choose


-Tim
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
I don't know if ERAU is one of them or not.

[/ QUOTE ]

I believe they are. Or at least they were, last I knew.
 

cessna2351

Well-Known Member
wow i go to set up the vcr and when i come back there are 3 posts.


Anyway, I doubt that Bush's plan to privatize the nations ATC will fall through just because there is so much opposition to it by airlines, unions, private pilots, etc.
 

SteveC

Really?
Staff member
I know of a couple of guys that work the local Tracon that keep their hands in the flying gig as well. At least one of them has more than a few thousand hours total time and does a fair amount of part time work with some of the local corporate flight departments.

It's a great combination for him: steady income from ATC with a fair amount of really cool corporate flying in really nice equipment.
That kind of a situation really takes a lot of work and persaverance(sp?) over the years.
 

sorrygottarunway

Well-Known Member
would the situation be similar too:

"399Bravo, I'd love to hand you off, but the next center facility doesn't take your credit card, radar services terminated..."

like having to pay for each airspace you fly into?
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
I was once in your shoes and got an aviation degree. Followed the pilot career path until I was about 24 and then followed the ATC career path for about a year and a half. I left ATC to get back into flying and it was the smartest decision I ever made.

Just remember that ATC only makes the big money at larger facilities...centers and big towers. The guy at the level one or two tower isn't making nearly as much but also isn't working nearly as hard.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
Is the 'level' based on size of the airport, or activity?

I'm thinking of those poor tower controllers Class D airports like Vero Beach where its usually a circus. I'd hope they get paid more than the guys at some of the dead class C airports...
 

mtsu_av8er

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
I'd hope they get paid more than the guys at some of the dead class C airports...


[/ QUOTE ]

Fayetteville, North Carolina!!!

PIECE OF CRAP!!!
 

Tazman282

New Member
I am currently enrolled in the ATC minor at Embry Riddle. They do offer an Air Traffic Major but I am going to pursue the dream of flying.

As of right now due to the age restrictions of the FAA in the next 6 years they are going to lose 60% of the ATC controllers. There is a serious need for them and by the end of this year they expect to hire a total of almost 600 controllers. This is due to the budget that was proposed in Oct. of last year and recently put into affect.

Embry Riddle has sent the most students to OKC for training other than the Military. ERAU has sent a total of 371 which is more than all other CTI programs put together.

The starting salaries are about 40,000 dpending on location, and type of facility. If you are sent to a center your starting salary could be 70,000 then once certified for that facility you get a nice pay increase something like 30,000. Certification takes about 1 yr at tracon and towers, and 3yrs at Centers. The current wait time from the time you send in your paperwork to date of hire is about 1 yr based on the background check and region you select. The Southwest region is the hardest to get into and I have heard of someone waiting 20 months before he got the call for class. Then you are sent to OKC for training and they pay you about 15,000 while you are there plus per diem of 60 bucks a day for food. Once you are at your facility and you have been certified then you put in your time. Most of the time they excpect the same amount of time that they spent training you for the facility. So it take 3 years you work 3 years then you can bid out. There are boards that you can sign up for to find someone that wants the place you are at and you can change or based on senority you can get a new place based on retirement and other factors involved.

There are many other places where you can get the training through the CTI program and I even believe that one is a community college and all you need is a associates degree. Save lots of money vs. going to ERAU. The training we recieve is top notch and most say that our training is actually better than that of which you learn in OKC. So I guess you pay for what you get but I would still go for the least expensive.

Many of my friends have either switched majors or gotten there minors and are going to pursue this instead of aviation based on the money and job security available. It is also nice to know that when you retire you will get atleast 50% of you base pay up to 70% depending on how long you were with them. (goes up 2% each year past 25, something like that.)

And to answer your question EatSleepFly the level is based on a couple factors. The amout of T/O and Landing, the amount of traffic and the type of traffic. Here in Daytona they are pretty high level based on ERAU and other flight schools on KDAB. We keep them busy so they get paid the big bucks.

I hope this answered some of your questions on things, but if you choose ATC you will get a job there is no doubt in my mind. It may take a while but when it does come you will be set for life.

Good Luck
 

ATA_victim

New Member
I talk to Lisa Leckrone, she is the head ATC trainer for the FAA in OK city and I talk to her about everything. Currently (in her opinion) she doesnt like any college (ERAU,Daniel Web,etc) she advised me of a comm college in Penn (PM me for details and name of this school)

Upon completion of this school you are basically hired into a FAA class, I know,I know, there are no gaurentee's in the industry but she said that the FAA looks at this school first. This school runs their own control tower and you will have a Tower Operators Permit for that tower upon completion of the course which looks good. I am on the FAA list of series 2154 ATC assistant. Im waiting to get assigned to a region. the Eastern Region is not hiring right now if that helps anyone. excuse my spelling...
 

sigmanu499

New Member
I have decided to do ATC and have applied to Minniapolis Community and Techinical College. This is the only school that is not in the CTI program. The local community college(Mt. San Antonio College), from what i understand doesnt give a very great education, and the wait to be placed with the FAA is well over one year(if not placed with in 2 years, they take your name off of the list). According to the school I am looking at, most people are placed in 2-6 months, but only placed at Centers(not terminal), centers are for the most part short staffed. Its an 18 week program and they say that you bypass the FAA Academy and go straight to your Center. This was the better choice for me and you might want to look into it http://www.minneapolis.edu/airTraffic/
 

cessna2351

Well-Known Member
Thanks Tazman and everyone else for the replies.

40,000 dollars for a starting position is definatly attractive, especially when the salaries continue to rise fairly quickly. I'm probably jumping the gun to a degree but my gut instict would tell me to try and bid for an terminal job at a major airport. I'm not gonna determine my life's path at this computer right now so I'll stop being hypothetical.

Anyhow, I'm actually visiting the DAB campus in two days

**(that reminds me...can anybody PM me with the name of a good sports bar/resturant close to the school where my dad and I can watch the super bowl?)**

and I'm taking the entire Aviation tour with AS, AE, AT, etc...would anyone down there care to get in touch and chat about the school at all? If so, please PM me.

Thanks everyone,
Mike McM
 

FL270

New Member
One of my roommates at Riddle became a controller. He finished the ATC minor, took the OPM test, and went to OKC. He is now working MLU Tower/TRACON in Monroe, LA. He absolutely loves controlling, though he's not crazy about Monroe ... he's SoCal born and bred, and is working hard to get back out there.

FL270
 

aloft

New Member
I'd actually consider ATC...but at 36, I'm too old! Leave it to the federal government to discriminate on the basis of age, but not allow anyone else to!
 

ERAU_Intern

New Member
Bottom line, this is a decision YOU have to make. I am 21, have a 4 year degree, and I am living at home while working as a CFI because I can't possibly afford it any other way. In a heartbeat, I could go out and get some OTHER job and make ALOT more money than I am now. But I like many other people who post on this site, am willing to sacrifice for the profession I so dearly adore. If quality of life is your deciding factor, then ATC is probablly the way to go. But there are better things than sitting at home watching football I can assure you. Whatever you decide just don't forget to have fun along the way!
 

sigmanu499

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
Bottom line, this is a decision YOU have to make. I am 21, have a 4 year degree, and I am living at home while working as a CFI because I can't possibly afford it any other way. In a heartbeat, I could go out and get some OTHER job and make ALOT more money than I am now. But I like many other people who post on this site, am willing to sacrifice for the profession I so dearly adore. If quality of life is your deciding factor, then ATC is probablly the way to go. But there are better things than sitting at home watching football I can assure you. Whatever you decide just don't forget to have fun along the way!

[/ QUOTE ]
Dont forget to have fun....life is to have fun
(women, beer & sports) not to slave 5 days a week for someone to make lots of money for the better part of your life.
 

cessna2351

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
If quality of life is your deciding factor, then ATC is probablly the way to go. But there are better things than sitting at home watching football I can assure you. Whatever you decide just don't forget to have fun along the way!

[/ QUOTE ]

[ QUOTE ]
Dont forget to have fun....life is to have fun (women, beer & sports) not to slave 5 days a week for someone to make lots of money for the better part of your life. "

[/ QUOTE ]

Thanks guys...I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a person who doesn't take the little things in life for granted, however I truly have a passion for flying, (i write this after scheduling the lesson for next wednesday when I should first solo..wx permiting). I'm only 17(1/2) and I'm not gonna decide my life's path this moment, but I would like to thank everyone who posted for giving me something to think about.
 
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