Am I too old to become an Air Traffic Controller?

tallyho

Newcomer
Apr 26, 2010
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Hi, I am almost 29 years old with no prior experience as an Air Traffic Controller. I have been reading the requirements and it say's that the maximum age is 31 years old to apply. That's only a little more than 2 years from now.

My question is, in my situation, is it still feasible to pursue this career path? If so, What are my options?

Some additional details about me:
-I have a bachelors degree in Communications
-Am a U.S. Citizen
-Have not entered into any AT-CTI Schools yet at the moment.
 

rogersjf

Trusted Contributor
Mar 11, 2009
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Based on the information you gave and assuming that today was your 29th B-Day i would say you do not have a chance. The quickest route is a fast track program (1 Year) that would bring you to 30 then you need to get to a panel, get selected and get an interview. I always forget if your age freezes at a TOL or FOL.

However if it is FOL you need to get thru background, pshy., medical, etc. So IMO you are pushing it and really should not waste the money on the CTI program. Nothing is guaranteed that you will get hired in a expiated fashion or hired at all.
 

Radium

Epic Member
Jan 14, 2009
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You have zero chance getting hired by the FAA prior to 31, sry buddy. You still are "young" enough to go thru the guard and be a military controller (not sure what ActiveDuty age is, I thought it was like 27-29?).

You def could go that route, then get hired contract wise somewhere... like Iraq, and make a ton of money that way.
 

atcguruaf

Rico Suave
Jan 4, 2009
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Right here
you can do the pubnats... however, you asked for an opinion. Ask other OTS's how long they've been waiting.

Chances are you're going to wait AT LEAST that long as well. By all means, though, apply, you never know. It is worth a shot. But, once you hit 31, the only way to get ATC is if you retire doing ATC from the military.

My advice... join the military and secure yourself an ATC slot, otherwise you'll be playing the waiting game with odds stacked against you.
 

tallyho

Newcomer
Apr 26, 2010
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Does this plan sound feasible:

Join the military get an ATC slot, retire from the military at age 35-36, get a job in DOD when I'm 38, then transfer to FAA later eventually maybe when I'm 45. Would this work?
 

MikeATC

Retired FAA, NATCA Member
Apr 3, 2009
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There are other options since the window to becoming a controller is extremely narrow.
You could look at going to UND and attending their UAV pilot program, or you could go to one of the colleges that helps certify you to be an airline dispatcher, which is fairly close to what we controllers do.

I got hired back in 85 at age 30, so it is possible though not as probable today.
 

TimShady

Senior Analyst
Mar 12, 2009
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I don't think it's gonna happen man. Look into aircraft dispatching. It's a pretty sweet gig and there are a lot of perks such as jump seat privileges.

Going military and then contract is also an option I suppose. You'll be enlisting with mostly young guys though. I don't think you can transfer to the FAA later.
 

eqfan592

Rookie
Mar 28, 2010
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IF they have another pubnat soon, I'd say give it a go, but otherwise it's a pretty slim chance. I came into this thing when I was 27 under pubnat 4. I'm now 29, turning 30 at the end of the year, and I'm just finally getting to where I'll (hopefully) have a class date soon after being redirected last month.
 

SdN

Junior Member
Mar 23, 2010
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I'd say your question has been answered already but if you need any further proof I took the AT-SAT last November at the age of 29 and I am still waiting to hear back from the FAA. My 30th birthday was in January of 2010 and I'll be lucky to hear anything back before my 31st birthday next January.

So, if today was your 29th birthday and you submitted an OTS application today, you would have a very slim chance of getting a TOL by your 31st birthday. Given both of those are not the case I am not sure you understand your chances now. I will be surprised if I hear anything back by January of 2011, 17 months after submitting my application.
 

admin

Administrator
Staff member
Jun 11, 2008
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Does this plan sound feasible:

Join the military get an ATC slot, retire from the military at age 35-36, get a job in DOD when I'm 38, then transfer to FAA later eventually maybe when I'm 45. Would this work?
No...you must be hired by the DOD prior to your 31st birthday if you want to transfer into the FAA.
 

Rosstafari

Daaaang.
Aug 17, 2008
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Yep... it's not going to happen. You could take a shot at military like Mike suggested, but even then, consider that you're going to be getting orders from guys ten years younger than you, and you're going to have to sit there and take it. Transfer options from the military to the FAA come up from time to time, but it's not an easy thing to do, and you're going to be doing a lot harder time than the ones who started at a younger age. And that's all assuming that you make it into controlling via the military at all -- no guarantees.

You don't have enough time to make it via OTS or CTI. No new PUBNATs will open for some time, and even if one opened today, it's doubtful that you'd receive a TOL before turning 31 (when your age freezes). Assuming you did CTI, and somehow found a year long program -- there's not many -- that started this summer, that gives you a year to make it to TOL. With increasing CTI competition and the slowdown of the hiring and training process, that's an incredibly long shot. No matter how much you want the career, it'd be foolish to blow thousands and a year of your life on something that the vast majority of people haven't been able to do in a greater amount of time.

Sorry that we're all being the bearer of bad news. ATC's one of those things you just have to get in on early enough. You might want to look into airline dispatching, which is similar in some ways. Any job in the industry's going to be hard to get at the moment, though.
 

jdaniels6

Newcomer
Jul 31, 2014
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I'd like to bump this thread, I am 28 myself. Now that the hiring process is opening up a bit, I'll be seperating from the Air Force just prior to my 30th birthday and putting a bid in March 2015 (assuming the bid happens). I have been to the Air Force's air traffic training (although I am not an air traffic controller). I've worked as a liason in ATC facilities and will have a bachelors + 6 years work experience with the military. I'm also a combat vet which should help with federal jobs. Assuming they utilize VRA during this upcoming bid, and that's a big assumption, what are the chances of getting hired on prior to my 31st? It will leave me with a window of a little over a year (probably a year and a half). I am keeping other options open and have connections in the guard, which I could jump on and potentially get a DoD slot eventually. That being said, I would much prefer to separate from the military and jump into the FAA. My resume is pretty solid, but I don't know how much they're actually looking at those - it appears the TOL stuff is what's most important. Any thoughts or advice? Thanks!
 

Genot

Trusted Contributor
Feb 7, 2010
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Assuming the bid happens you have about a 10% chance. Your experience means nothing with this current hiring plan. Over 20,000 applied on the last bid, the Biographical Questionnaire (ie you first step and no vet pref points apply as far as we know) eliminated all but about 2,000.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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Jdaniels just any FYI but on FAA VRA bids you have to have been a military controller. As just a vet you would need to apply on a genpub/OTS bid, but seeing as that is what they will have most likely that shouldn't be an issue.
 

Trigs

Newcomer
Feb 6, 2010
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I guess I'll just post a question here rather than starting another "Am I too old thread?"

In the Air Force and as radar controller. I just turned 28 and have a little over a year and a half left in my enlistment. If I separated on my DOS, I would be three months shy of my 30th birthday. Now I've heard rumors of a fall bid this year but I was just wondering what people's opinions were on my chances.

To throw a wrench in the decision, I just received a short tour with a very enticing follow on assignment. I'm going to have to make this decision in the next two-ish weeks, so I'm just trying to get all the info and opinions I can (though I realize a lot of it will be hearsay). Thanks!
 

UNDgrad06

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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Read the post that is like 2 or 3 up. If you apply via Open Bid then you have about a 10% chance of passing the initial questionnaire, and it seems if you were a prior ATC or CTI your chances or worse for some reason.
 

RegisteredUser

Junior Member
Mar 15, 2014
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I guess I'll just post a question here rather than starting another "Am I too old thread?"

In the Air Force and as radar controller. I just turned 28 and have a little over a year and a half left in my enlistment. If I separated on my DOS, I would be three months shy of my 30th birthday. Now I've heard rumors of a fall bid this year but I was just wondering what people's opinions were on my chances.

To throw a wrench in the decision, I just received a short tour with a very enticing follow on assignment. I'm going to have to make this decision in the next two-ish weeks, so I'm just trying to get all the info and opinions I can (though I realize a lot of it will be hearsay). Thanks!
All you need is an "in lieu of dd 214" which states your projected discharge date, discharged under honorable conditions , and have it signed by the commander. I've heard of people successfully using less than this (just a statement of service from the vmpf.) You can now apply to any faa bid you are eligible for, it doesn't matter if you are 1, 2 or 4 years out. Though, your chances probably aren't as good the farther out you are, just a guess. Don't forget to upload and submit the front and back of your pink card with that.
 

rjaeger13

Rookie
Apr 5, 2013
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It's not gonna happen.. i'd even stay clear of Dispatch at your age. All this is speaking from experience, i completed CTI when i was 29. I had dispatch to fall back on but when crunching numbers it just didn't add up. The dispatch ladder is tough, and you'll be looking at YEARS before you're making decent money. For me it just didn't make sense, and i was able to make my resume work for a better career field.