Advice for Terminal Students?

KevH

Junior Member
Feb 21, 2014
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I think that's right, but didn't they change it to pass/fail for new hires? Although it doesn't seem they are really sending non-previous experience new hires to stand alone TRACONs.
 

sailor_pianist

Trusted Member
Jan 10, 2010
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Try to do well in your rankings. If you get one of the mandatory, hard to staff locations you will very likely be there for over 10 years with how ERRs are being handled
So, are you being dramatic or is the new ERR this bad?! I received a TOL for terminal. I would honestly lose my home, and not be able to support my family if I'm at a level 4 or 5 for this long.This is a very real situation for me, so can someone break down a realistic time frame from getting certified in a tower to moving to a TRACON or higher level facility? I don't want to waste the FAA's time (and mine) with getting these clearances due to lack of understanding with what I'm getting myself into. I make about $60k at my current job and am comfortable. I realize AG pay will be a$20k pay cut and am budgeting and planning on having to cash out my 401k just to survive my first year at my facility (assuming it's a level 4 or 5). From the looks of it, I should just give up this dream
 

BeaconSlash

Trusted Member
Aug 19, 2011
367
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So, are you being dramatic or is the new ERR this bad?! I received a TOL for terminal. I would honestly lose my home, and not be able to support my family if I'm at a level 4 or 5 for this long.This is a very real situation for me, so can someone break down a realistic time frame from getting certified in a tower to moving to a TRACON or higher level facility? I don't want to waste the FAA's time (and mine) with getting these clearances due to lack of understanding with what I'm getting myself into. I make about $60k at my current job and am comfortable. I realize AG pay will be a$20k pay cut and am budgeting and planning on having to cash out my 401k just to survive my first year at my facility (assuming it's a level 4 or 5). From the looks of it, I should just give up this dream
Well, the lowest possible pay in the NAS for a CPC is $57,718 right now... that's a Level 4 with Rest-of-US Locality.

Level 5 is $65,508.
 

KevH

Junior Member
Feb 21, 2014
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6
So, are you being dramatic or is the new ERR this bad?! I received a TOL for terminal. I would honestly lose my home, and not be able to support my family if I'm at a level 4 or 5 for this long.This is a very real situation for me, so can someone break down a realistic time frame from getting certified in a tower to moving to a TRACON or higher level facility? I don't want to waste the FAA's time (and mine) with getting these clearances due to lack of understanding with what I'm getting myself into. I make about $60k at my current job and am comfortable. I realize AG pay will be a$20k pay cut and am budgeting and planning on having to cash out my 401k just to survive my first year at my facility (assuming it's a level 4 or 5). From the looks of it, I should just give up this dream
10 years seems a bit extreme. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say plan on 3-5 years. Everything comes down to staffing though, both at your facility and the facility you are trying to go to. Combined with the fact that you are competing with other coworkers, and it basically becomes who wants to move up more. Be picky in where you want to go while your coworkers are bidding higher in need facilities and it could take awhile. Put every center, core 30 airport, and large TRACON and you will almost certainly be the first one released once your facility can release someone. If N90/C90 are willing to take you, it doesn't even matter what your current facility's staffing is. You can be released in 90 days. Those facilities aren't a blanket get out of jail card though as seems to be the rumor. I bid both recently, but with only tower experience was not picked up by either.


What's the cost of living where you live? Even if it's low cost of living, you should end up better in the FAA than what you are making now. I've been in the FAA for about three years and am at lvl 5 pay. With shift differential, overtime, holiday pay, etc. I gross about $75k-$80k a year. That's in a moderate cost of living area in the Midwest. Good luck with your decision. Even with all the drama of being a government employee controlling is a whole lot of fun.
 

sailor_pianist

Trusted Member
Jan 10, 2010
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10 years seems a bit extreme. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say plan on 3-5 years. Everything comes down to staffing though, both at your facility and the facility you are trying to go to. Combined with the fact that you are competing with other coworkers, and it basically becomes who wants to move up more. Be picky in where you want to go while your coworkers are bidding higher in need facilities and it could take awhile. Put every center, core 30 airport, and large TRACON and you will almost certainly be the first one released once your facility can release someone. If N90/C90 are willing to take you, it doesn't even matter what your current facility's staffing is. You can be released in 90 days. Those facilities aren't a blanket get out of jail card though as seems to be the rumor. I bid both recently, but with only tower experience was not picked up by either.


What's the cost of living where you live? Even if it's low cost of living, you should end up better in the FAA than what you are making now. I've been in the FAA for about three years and am at lvl 5 pay. With shift differential, overtime, holiday pay, etc. I gross about $75k-$80k a year. That's in a moderate cost of living area in the Midwest. Good luck with your decision. Even with all the drama of being a government employee controlling is a whole lot of fun.

Thank you for taking the time to respond, KevH. I'm in South Atlanta, Ga (about 10 minutes from the Atlanta ARTCC ). I'm hoping to get back here, eventually to work at the center, but getting a TOL for terminal dashed those hopes for the moment. Are you at an up/down facility? How long have you been trying to ERR? Your post gives me more hope about pursuing this field, as I failed to consider OT.
 

Purplelobj

Epic Member
Jan 29, 2014
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Not to give you too much hope but I am a terminal controller and have never worked a day of tower in my life. Just because you didn't get enroute doesn't mean you can't go to a center. And most centers are almost always needing people, just due to the sheer number of people employed at a center. Minneapolis Center has something like 105 trainees right now, and that is just trainees.
 

SayAgain3

Trusted Member
Feb 13, 2017
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I'll preface by saying my class had everyone pass. Did we go out and drink? Yup. Did we all study together? Yup. Did we all control relatively the same because we discussed in detail every possible scenario and how we'd handle it? Yup.
The academy is all about the KISS method. (Keep It Simple Stupid). There is no need for conditional crossings. Always keep your traffic flow on ground the same. We memorized every call sign and it's not hard to know where they park (LC can help ground if they turn a guy off at F vs. E for aircraft going to Spartan/Falcon). Although most 'trainers' will only make you parrot them if you're really struggling, you might be stuck with the Academy Alpha who wants you to do it just like him. This is what your main instructors are for. Complain to them about it. We cut that parroting sh*t out by problem 5.
Still no greater feeling then seeing the Academy in your rear view mirror heading to your new facility. Best of luck man, I loved my time out there.
 

sailor_pianist

Trusted Member
Jan 10, 2010
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Not to give you too much hope but I am a terminal controller and have never worked a day of tower in my life. Just because you didn't get enroute doesn't mean you can't go to a center. And most centers are almost always needing people, just due to the sheer number of people employed at a center. Minneapolis Center has something like 105 trainees right now, and that is just trainees.
How is that? Did you go to the Academy for terminal then request relocation to a center/Tracon?
 

rdyotz

Trusted Member
Feb 18, 2014
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Arizona
Tracons are terminal facilities. In the past, they sent academy grads to Tracons as well, they still send them to lower level Tracons, but it is not as common.
 

sailor_pianist

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Jan 10, 2010
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Tracons are terminal facilities. In the past, they sent academy grads to Tracons as well, they still send them to lower level Tracons, but it is not as common.
Oh, wow. I didn't realize they'd send Academy grads to Tracon. I just figured it was going to be a low-level tower. Good things to know so I make an informed decision. Thanks, guys.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
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There is no need for conditional crossings.
I agree. But I've heard you can lose a couple points if you don't do a conditional crossing. At least that's if the vehicle just sits at an intersection for a bit and there's nothing coordinated because you're waiting for an easy opening.
But I could be wrong.
 

Ryanmas9

Trusted Member
Aug 11, 2015
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Monroe, NC
I agree. But I've heard you can lose a couple points if you don't do a conditional crossing. At least that's if the vehicle just sits at an intersection for a bit and there's nothing coordinated because you're waiting for an easy opening.
But I could be wrong.
No that's not true. Conditional crossings are not mandatory, just there for your benefit.

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
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Oh, wow. I didn't realize they'd send Academy grads to Tracon. I just figured it was going to be a low-level tower. Good things to know so I make an informed decision. Thanks, guys.
There is no tracon-only facilities that a brand new Academy grad would get in the southeast US. And a slim chance of Tuscon, Edwards/Joshua/High Desert, St Louis, Omaha, Bradley/Yankee, and Cape Cod.
 

KevH

Junior Member
Feb 21, 2014
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I'm in South Atlanta, Ga (about 10 minutes from the Atlanta ARTCC ). I'm hoping to get back here, eventually to work at the center, but getting a TOL for terminal dashed those hopes for the moment.
Terminal and enroute are not separate as in once you are tracked one you can't go the other. Actually, if you want a specific center you might be in the better situation to have gotten a terminal TOL. While the current ERR process makes it difficult to get out of lower level facilities, it makes it extremely difficult to get out of a center. This is especially true for the lower staffed centers where most academy grads get sent. Meaning if you went enroute and ended up somewhere other than ZTL it could actually be a longer wait for you to transfer to ZTL. Also remember that the tower course at the academy has a better pass rate than the center course, and most low level towers have better facility success rates than centers.

sailor_pianist said:
Are you at an up/down facility? How long have you been trying to ERR? Your post gives me more hope about pursuing this field, as I failed to consider OT.
No, I'm at a tower only facility. I've been trying to ERR/bid for about two years. Since the ERR MOU the best my facility has been is Cat 2 exempt, but there are a good number of developmentals right now. I've been on military orders for the better part of a year, so I'm not sure how all of them are doing. I'm hopeful most will check out and push us up to Cat 1. I actually like where I'm at though so I'm not desperate to get out, but I'm also not picky on where I go if I can move to a high level facility.