Should I become an ATC?

SuperCubRick

Well-Known Member
I haven't heard much about it, but my dad says it's all over the news that the FAA is hurting for controllers and that they're hiring people straight out of HS (I find that part hard to believe).

He thinks I should postpone my flight training and my plan to fly for the airlines and become a controller for a while - I'm a PPL with about 270 hrs and starting on my instrument/commercial and was planning to start flight instructing this winter/spring.

I just graduated from Kennesaw State U. here in Ga. with a degree in Communication and I've been a cashier at a small drug store throughout my college career, so I don't exactly have the work experience they're looking for.

I've read that the two training facilities only accept students that have graduated from one of the 14 colleges selected by the FAA? So how would I go about getting into ATC? Thanks in advance.

- Rick
 

chichi

New Member
If you have a 4-year degree, you already have the work requirements covered.

There are currently 3 OTS (off the street) public announcements open. One is a national announcement, the other two are state specific (Alaska and Hawaii).

PUBNAT5: http://jobs.faa.gov/asap_detail.asp?vac_id=107019
Alaska: http://jobs.faa.gov/asap_detail.asp?vac_id=107072
Hawaii: http://jobs.faa.gov/asap_detail.asp?vac_id=107069

You can apply to all three if you're willing to move to AK or HI... if not, just apply to PUBNAT5.

That's all it takes to get started... apply to an announcement and read up on things around the forums...
 

Barty

Well-Known Member
Rick,

You can apply in one of the national announcements that is open to anyone in the general public, you need not have completed a formal college ATC program. In addition, the experience requirement is a four year degree or three years work experience, or a combination of the two.

Since you've got the hours for your instrument and commercial ticket, I'd go ahead and finish those up. Trust me, it'll be alot easier to do it now than to stop and try to pick it up again in 4-5 years.

Nice to see another KSU grad on here. I'm class of 2005, BBA in Finance.
 

pm577

New Member
He thinks I should postpone my flight training and my plan to fly for the airlines and become a controller for a while
I'd be careful about the thinking that 'you'll just do this for a while'. Some facilities require many years of training until you are fully certified (3+ months at Oklahoma City, then 1-3+ years at your facility. If you go en-route then expect 3+ years). With all this work and dedication, you probably won't be able to pursue a dream to fly for the airlines for many years (if ever).

I wanted to be a professional pilot too, but have since abandoned that dream... plus I know I'll be happier in the ATC world.
 

pm577

New Member
No worries, we'll all be jobless and on the street in 10 years... when oil hits $1000 a barrel
CNN News, 2018: "ATLTRACON, the last remaining ATCer in the world, will handle the last aircraft to ever fly... effective tomorrow the NAS is permanently shutdown!"
 

teetee

New Member
I say, apply for the ATC job, if it is what you want. If it is your father's dream for you, then in the end you won't have the heart to give it what it will need and wash out. If it is something you think you would like to do, do it! The open announcements close next week.

Most likely, you will have time to finish up your Instrument, commercial and CFI BEFORE you were hired by the FAA. Heck you might even have time for CFII. LOL From start to finish you are most likely going to be in it over a year to get hired.

As you know, flying is EXPENSIVE and takes a long time to make money. I have a brother in law that is an airline pilot, another brother in law working on CFI, my father-in-law is a corporate pilot and my husband his PPL. I understand the cost of flying more than I would like to at times; if I am at the in-laws the conversation is almost ALWAYS revolving around flying! It takes a lot of work and time to get to the point you are making money. ATC's complain about starting pay but it is nothing compared to a pilot. Most pilots start their careers making $18,000/year with no locality pay. Considering most have student loans for around $40,000 (cheap) for training up through the CFI rating. $18,000 is hard to live on much less pay the payment on that kind of debt.

The list of pros and cons depends on what your desire is in the end. The comparable lists have no base if ATC isn't what you want.
 

b3181981

Well-Known Member
are you in debt? because the most expensive part is using a plane since you already have the hours why not just finish the ifr commercial. from what people say here it is going to take you about a year just to start the training.
 

SuperCubRick

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the replies so far. I'm not in debt and am thankful to have my dad helping me out with covering a lot of the flying costs, he also has a Super Cub that I've built quite a bit of my time in.

I also think it'd make the most sense to get my ratings and maybe CFI while I'm going through the ATC wait process. I really want to fly, but have considered ATC - and like others have said, it isn't something you just do for a few years, I would probably invest 10+ in it if I did chose to pursue it.

It would certainly pay better than the airlines starting out and for the first 10 yrs or so, and it'd be a lot more secure - but it's not something I'm passionate about, would rather be flying, even if it means crappy pay and uncertain job security, however, I might think differently if I experienced it first hand, heh.
 

rloucks81

New Member
If that's the case, and you don't want to finish it out for it's full term. I'd say just go ahead and follow your heart and be a pilot. Do you want to be in a job where you will always see the other guys flying, knowing it's what you wanted to do? I'm very excited about Air Traffic Control, and look forward to doing it until I have to retire, but I certainly wouldn't plan on making it a " just for now" job, given what all goes to it.
 

SuperCubRick

Well-Known Member
If that's the case, and you don't want to finish it out for it's full term. I'd say just go ahead and follow your heart and be a pilot. Do you want to be in a job where you will always see the other guys flying, knowing it's what you wanted to do? I'm very excited about Air Traffic Control, and look forward to doing it until I have to retire, but I certainly wouldn't plan on making it a " just for now" job, given what all goes to it.
I know what you mean, that's kind of what I'm afraid of - ATC is certainly not just a job to casually hold for a few years, it's a profession just like flying.
 

Beehive

Well-Known Member
I haven't heard much about it, but my dad says it's all over the news that the FAA is hurting for controllers and that they're hiring people straight out of HS (I find that part hard to believe).

He thinks I should postpone my flight training and my plan to fly for the airlines and become a controller for a while - I'm a PPL with about 270 hrs and starting on my instrument/commercial and was planning to start flight instructing this winter/spring.

I just graduated from Kennesaw State U. here in Ga. with a degree in Communication and I've been a cashier at a small drug store throughout my college career, so I don't exactly have the work experience they're looking for.

I've read that the two training facilities only accept students that have graduated from one of the 14 colleges selected by the FAA? So how would I go about getting into ATC? Thanks in advance.

- Rick
Drive an over-sized bus or control 20 over-sized buses at once? Do what you love and want to do, just don't fall asleep while doing it.
 

Rosstafari

Likes tacos
It would certainly pay better than the airlines starting out and for the first 10 yrs or so, and it'd be a lot more secure - but it's not something I'm passionate about, would rather be flying, even if it means crappy pay and uncertain job security, however, I might think differently if I experienced it first hand, heh.
I think you may already have your answer right there.

Anyway, while you're correct about the initial pay being better, it'd still come back to bite you if you tried to go back to pursue a commercial pilot career later. Since pilots' careers are based heavily upon seniority, every day you spent as an ATC (or anything else) is taking away one that you'd build up as an airline pilot -- and would you really want to be looking at entry-level pilot positions in your mid-30's?

Finally, just like any other highly specialized profession that requires extensive training, you can't really "experience [being an ATCS] first hand" without being fully committed to it as a career. There are things you can do to help you learn more -- tower visits, some reading, browsing these forums -- but that's about as close as you can get without jumping in all the way.
 

pm577

New Member
That's a good idea. Consider applying, since the application process takes 5-12 months. If you can survive that, then you should have a little more knowledge/idea of what you want to do.

Just from reading these forums in the past 6 months, I've learned a LOT about ATC, and I'm more sure than ever that this is what I want to do.

You can always decline a job offer, but you can't put an application in after the close-out date.
 
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