Advice for New Hire ATC's

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,563
22
38
Semantics.

If you get held over for 2 hours on a normal 8 hour shift, it is overtime for lets say Monday. If you work 3 more 8 hour shift on Tuesday - Thursday and take leave on Friday. you get still paid for that 2 hours of overtime.

And yes, i have been held over after a 10 hr shift. But you cant work traffic. I was held over because of an aircraft incident on my last rotation and needed to give a written statement.
Clarifies the 10 hour shift for me, thanks.

But what about his statement are you saying is wrong about OT?
Typically 8 hour days, some places work four 10 hour days. You get paid OT for anything over forty hours in a week (so yes, typically anything over eight hours).
Anything over 40 hours is overtime. He never said that leave doesn't count in getting to the 40 hour week.
 

harv

Senior Member
Jun 15, 2008
240
3
18
I know that, and you know that. But some of the potential new hires don't know that.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
4,388
68
48
Long Island
Thats not all that I took from the article. It was definitely some good points and insight into this career field. But as I was reading it and some other stuff I read online about ATC, I just get this underlying negative tone from it like my life is going to suck!!! No time with the familly, highly stressed, i might turn into an alcoholic, my trainer is going to treat me like crap, etc. Thats all Im saying

It's this simple: There are some things about the ATC career field that suck, have always sucked, and will most likely continue to suck. Schedule and shifts included. However, despite the sucky parts (which are always everyones favorite thing to talk about) the fact is the career has so many more positives than negatives. Granted, what one person sees as a positive (like a high stress work environment) another might view as a negative. The only near-universal truth to what sucks in the ATC field is that yes, training will suck, but probably not because you're trainer will treat you like crap and more along the lines of you will never have had to work so hard to obtain something in your life. That work and effort though is well worth the reward at the end.
 

MrWhyte

Rookie
Jul 24, 2009
35
0
6
Outside the Tannhauser Gate
Im sorry but why everytime I read something about ATC, it seems very negative to me. I understand we have to work rotating shifts and holidays. But I dont like to dwell on the obvious, is every person in ATC headed for divorce?? People work stressful, time consuming jobs every day. It always seems like something Im so excited for is going to eventually ruin my life. Im all about being happy and enjoying my family, but who doesnt like to get away sometimes. I like to change it up, working the same schedule every day with the same monotanous duties is a horrible life to me. I only feel like this career will help my life, and use my compulsive personality to its fullest. I yearn for a career that will challenge me everyday, that is fast paced and gets my blood going. Does every 20,000+ CPC feel this way. Has every CPC missed every single important family event there is? Will you have to work a full 24 hr shift on XMAS and thanksgiving? There will be plenty of time, either it be in the morning or in the evening you will get to see your family that day.Ive missed my kids games before, its not the end of the world. Am I going to have to work Sat and Sun, on every weekend every year throughout this 20+ year career? Sorry to rant, but I just get this negative feeling from alot of stuff I read on the net sometimes about this career, but at the same time alot of dedication and focus required for this career. Any job that requires that, should be filled with people who love their job. I know there is an exception to that. Again sorry for the rant, Im still waiting on my FOL by the way. Cant wait to get this thing going!!!
Sir/Ma'am,

Yes, there is a chance you will miss ALL of Christmas/Thanksgiving/Passover/New Years/ etc. My supporting evidence:

There was an unfortunate dude at my facility that had a 0600-1400 shift on Thanksgiving and then had to come back that night for the mid, so yeah, he completely missed the festivities.

There were folks working on their third marriages at my facility. A lot of us are on our second marriages. There are those individuals that take every opportunity to 'dead-man' swap out of as many evening/weekend shifts as they can (and :p:p:p:p their co-workers in the process) so they can have a 'normal' life. :p:p:p:p them and the horse they rode in on. It's fine to once in a blue moon to dump out of your shift to do something, but it is entirely another when it is one's normal MO. You wanna work Mon-Fri 9-5? Don't be a controller. I have missed my son's elementary and most of his High School life. Why? Dedication to the job. Putting one's time in.

Too many new kids walk in and think that they can roll like the old timers without paying their dues. Not all of them, but, most of them.

Respect the job.

Edited to add one more thing:

There are elements to this job that truly suck out the waazzzou, however...

How many jobs pay this well (and have the same or better benefits package) for only requiring a High School diploma?

I am a college drop-out. Then there is my older brother, he has a BS in Nuclear Engineering, a Masters in Systems Engineering, AND an MBA from Northwestern. He makes less than I (and it pisses him off to no end). He gets two weeks vacation/personal days per year and NO Pension. No one says to him "wow, you're a commercial banker!"

However, he does get to see his spouse in the evening and on weekends/holidays, and when he messes up, there is no "We interrupt this broadcast for breaking news..."
 

lowapproach

Epic Member
Oct 29, 2010
1,316
33
48
WV
Here are my additions:

1. The people who have the worst lives in this business treat air traffic control as a lifestyle rather than just a job. When the traffic is demanding, your judgment may be saving lives; it's natural to take pride in accomplishments that matter to others as much as they do to you. However, the police officer who pulls you over after you've had a dozen at the bar or the check-out party isn't interested in your professional judgment about what you can handle. Your spouse isn't impressed when you dictate to her like you do to a pilot or another controller, and she'll be even less impressed if you take that growing self-confidence out somewhere and try to f**k someone who isn't her. Being an air traffic controller is special, but it is not an excuse for being a self-destructive a**hole, so don't expect the world to accept it as one.

2. One divorce can happen to anyone. After the second one, give some thought to whether you are the kind of person who should get married.

3. Your career is shorter than you think, and retirement will (hopefully) be longer. Most of us will retire on something like 40% of base pay, with a skill set that's not very useful except to FCT contractors, and employers' prejudices against older employees working against you. Consult a financial planner (NATCA has one on retainer) and put the maximum into your TSP every year. It's fine to plan to work after you retire, but you almost certainly don't want to need to work.

4. If you have a hard time in training, get the f**k over it. Seriously. There are many trainers who are a**holes, who see it as their privilege passed on from their trainers who were a**holes. Break the cycle of alpha male bulls**t. Your fellow CPCs are much more impressed by co-workers who admit their mistakes and make the next controller's job easier than it might have been otherwise. Your trainees are adults who might one day be your fellow CPCs, so act like it when you're correcting their work.
 

boss7593

Newcomer
Feb 4, 2014
9
0
1
It rains a lot in Seattle and that brings out the depression. Clearly Isabel hasn't been getting it in.
 

freshav8tor

Trusted Contributor
Jul 19, 2009
516
2
18
So may I ask a question about retirement, How much income can a retired controller make after 56 years old if they put around 25 years of service, assuming they mached what a normal person would do on their 401k or w.e it is now and days.
 

lowapproach

Epic Member
Oct 29, 2010
1,316
33
48
WV
If the 2152 retirement doesn't change, a controller with 25 years of service can expect to make 39% of base pay (minus locality and incentive pay) as an annuity. Obviously, the higher your base pay, the higher your annuity.

The IRS sets the maximum contribution for the TSP every year, and this year it's $17,500. The FAA contributes an amount equal to 1% of your salary automatically, and matches your contribution 1:1 up to your first 3% of base pay and 1:2 for the 2% of base pay after that.

One of the best benefits NATCA provides is consultation with a free financial planner. Every few months, one of the representatives of the contractor will come to your facility or a location nearby to meet employees working at your facility. Take advantage of it.
 

airkiwi

Junior Member
Sep 28, 2008
91
8
8
The overwhelming trend I've noticed is that the people who go for this job because of the money are the most miserable. They heard about a government job that pays $100k+ and went for it, but could care less about aviation or service or helping a pilot out. I work with 10+ CPCs that don't understand the difference between a B744 and E145, because they get their check every 2 weeks and don't care about learning. To me the worst part of the job is working around people that have no interest in whether they do a good job or not.

I'm 6+ years in and still somewhat excited to go to work. It doesn't feel like a 'job', especially compared to other careers out there.
 

gablephillip

Trusted Member
Oct 18, 2012
434
11
18
Atlanta, GA
If the 2152 retirement doesn't change, a controller with 25 years of service can expect to make 39% of base pay (minus locality and incentive pay) as an annuity. Obviously, the higher your base pay, the higher your annuity.

The IRS sets the maximum contribution for the TSP every year, and this year it's $17,500. The FAA contributes an amount equal to 1% of your salary automatically, and matches your contribution 1:1 up to your first 3% of base pay and 1:2 for the 2% of base pay after that.

One of the best benefits NATCA provides is consultation with a free financial planner. Every few months, one of the representatives of the contractor will come to your facility or a location nearby to meet employees working at your facility. Take advantage of it.
So besides the roughly $53k (taken from ZTL max base pay for CPC) that the FAA pays you as an annuity, you can obviously add into your retirement on your own. Great info!

How likely is it to become a supervisor at some facility after you retire from controlling? I imagine that would be a great gig. Do you know anything about it?

Would have given you some Rep points but SM says I have to spread some love before giving them to you again lol
 

lowapproach

Epic Member
Oct 29, 2010
1,316
33
48
WV
In the FAA, managers/supervisors are part of the 2152 job series, so like controllers, they also are subject to mandatory retirement at 56.

As for it being a great gig, I guess it depends on how you define your terms. You get a small bump to your base pay, but in my facility, they use double area coverage and CICs to reduce OT opportunities to zero for sups - which means you could easily make more money per year if you remain a line controller. In addition, you get to handle personnel issues for the shifts and crews you cover, which puts you in touch with all of the high-maintenance employees whom you could ignore as a line controller. And you don't have the union's protection if the operations manager for your area decides that he's going to make your life miserable for whatever reason. I'm not saying that becoming a member of management is uniformly terrible, but your mileage will definitely vary, so be careful what you wish for (and bid on).
 
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SirMario

Senior Analyst
Apr 15, 2010
809
15
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So besides the roughly $53k (taken from ZTL max base pay for CPC) that the FAA pays you as an annuity, you can obviously add into your retirement on your own. Great info!

Would have given you some Rep points but SM says I have to spread some love before giving them to you again lol
There you go i gave him some :)
 

gablephillip

Trusted Member
Oct 18, 2012
434
11
18
Atlanta, GA
In the FAA, managers/supervisors are part of the 2152 job series, so like controllers, they also are subject to mandatory retirement at 56.

As for it being a great gig, I guess it depends on how you define your terms. You get a small bump to your base pay, but in my facility, they use double area coverage and CICs to reduce OT opportunities to zero for sups - which means you could easily make more money per year if you remain a line controller. In addition, you get to handle personnel issues for the shifts and crews you cover, which puts you in touch with all of the high-maintenance employees whom you could ignore as a line controller. And you don't have the union's protection if the operations manager for your area decides that he's going to make your life miserable for whatever reason. I'm not saying that becoming a member of management is uniformly terrible, but your mileage will definitely vary, so be careful what you wish
for (and bid on).
It's plenty of years off as I haven't even been hired yet. I just know the retired controllers I know aren't hurting for money. Some of them went into management, some taught at CTI schools. Whatever you choose to do upon retirement, you'll be fine.

Again, thank you for sharing your knowledge!

There you go i gave him some :)
Good looking out, bro bro!
 

eagetal96

Junior Member
Feb 9, 2009
76
1
8
If you are referring to managers as in ATM's, there is no force out at 56 as they do not work traffic.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,563
22
38
One of the best benefits NATCA provides is consultation with a free financial planner. Every few months, one of the representatives of the contractor will come to your facility or a location nearby to meet employees working at your facility. Take advantage of it.
I haven't seen anything like a financial planner come to our facility in the last 3+ years since I've been here.
 

Genot

Trusted Contributor
Feb 7, 2010
534
10
18
A Dark Dark Room
Get on your NATCA rep about it then. The firm allows a certain number of visits. My facility has more than one a year. If you don't it's because nobody is requesting one.
 

The Fold

Transmitting in the Blind
Apr 15, 2009
250
1
18
Florida
The overwhelming trend I've noticed is that the people who go for this job because of the money are the most miserable. They heard about a government job that pays $100k+ and went for it, but could care less about aviation or service or helping a pilot out. I work with 10+ CPCs that don't understand the difference between a B744 and E145, because they get their check every 2 weeks and don't care about learning. To me the worst part of the job is working around people that have no interest in whether they do a good job or not.

I'm 6+ years in and still somewhat excited to go to work. It doesn't feel like a 'job', especially compared to other careers out there.

Ding Ding. They also take every break they're offered.