Best path to ATC?

tbbusacker

Newcomer
Jan 10, 2016
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Hi everyone!

Im sure there's already a feed regarding this, but I need your help!

I am a 17 year old junior in high school. I want more than anything to become an air traffic controller and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get the job. I've done my research and I can't figure out the best way to become ultimately an FAA controller.

My original plan was to go to a CTI school. Obviously that won't work anymore seeing that graduating from a CTI program no longer gives me hiring preference.

My plan B was to enlist in the Air Force. I sat down with a recruiter yesterday and was told that in order to even be considered for ANY position, I have to be willing to work in 8 or more positions. My recruiter won't even consider letting me go to MEPS until I prove that I am "worth his time". That means being flexible and willing to accept whatever job is available in the Air Force. This is difficult because I am dead-set on ATC.

I could claim to be willing to accept any position in the AF but leave on MEPS day if I am not offered ATC. This however, is somewhat dishonest and a waste of the recruiters time if I leave last minute.

What other options do I have? Is there a way to get into ATC without it being such a gamble like it is OTS or military?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Thank you so much!



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nfingers

Trusted Contributor
Sep 8, 2012
559
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Pittsburgh PA
I didnt do the Active duty route. I went guard, Air National Guard to be exact, you're guaranteed Air Traffic Control if you go guard, but you're not guaranteed a full time job........ its a toss up. Personally I'd do guard again, it works well.

BUT I believe you can guarantee Air Traffic with the recruiter, just ensure you get it in writing. I'm really not sure though. Play it like a deal. Walk in saying you only want Air Traffic, If they feed you other bullshit, walk out, go to someone else. Typically they just want you in. Whatever that may take, just ensure you get it in writing.


And to clarify the guard. (im sure ill get shit from people on here) But, You get fully checked out (if you can make it in air traffic control) in the guard, get your experience, and can typically do some additional days. You can get college money, and a bunch of other benefits. You can PM me if you want more specific info, or if you have questions, or quite rankly if you just wanna bs.
 

meanjoe

Trusted Member
Apr 23, 2011
490
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I think the navy still guarantees atc if you qualify. I'm pretty sure the army does too. I'd play the af recruiter against the navy and army recruiters to try and get what you want. Good god don't join the army though if you want to be a controller. The navy isn't a bad gig. That's the route I took many moons ago.
 

VikAnis

Trusted Member
Apr 23, 2013
478
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N. Cali
I didnt do the Active duty route. I went guard, Air National Guard to be exact, you're guaranteed Air Traffic Control if you go guard, but you're not guaranteed a full time job........ its a toss up. Personally I'd do guard again, it works well.

BUT I believe you can guarantee Air Traffic with the recruiter, just ensure you get it in writing. I'm really not sure though. Play it like a deal. Walk in saying you only want Air Traffic, If they feed you other bullshit, walk out, go to someone else. Typically they just want you in. Whatever that may take, just ensure you get it in writing.


And to clarify the guard. (im sure ill get shit from people on here) But, You get fully checked out (if you can make it in air traffic control) in the guard, get your experience, and can typically do some additional days. You can get college money, and a bunch of other benefits. You can PM me if you want more specific info, or if you have questions, or quite rankly if you just wanna bs.
^THIS! Remember, they need you more than you need them! I would tell them it's ATC or nothing and like nfingers said, get it in writing. If they don't have ATC positions open ask them to call you when they do. In the meantime, work toward a B.A/B.S degree in a non-aviation field OR get three years of work experience at any job. Do try other branches besides the Air Force.
 

tbbusacker

Newcomer
Jan 10, 2016
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^THIS! Remember, they need you more than you need them! I would tell them it's ATC or nothing and like nfingers said, get it in writing. If they don't have ATC positions open ask them to call you when they do. In the meantime, work toward a B.A/B.S degree in a non-aviation field OR get three years of work experience at any job. Do try other branches besides the Air Force.
Thank you! I told the recruiter it was ATC or nothing and he just told me that's not an option. Perhaps I should talk to another recruiter? What other branches offer ATC training and experience that the FAA will accept (such as a CTO or experience that allows me to apply under the "52 weeks experience required" bid).


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ajmezz

Epic Member
Apr 8, 2010
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Navy and marines will get you quality ratings (cto/approach). Only caveat to navy is that if you get sent to a ship, those ratings don't count in the FAA's mind.
 

JHAG40

Rookie
Feb 2, 2014
49
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Marine Corps is right around 64% occupational field health right now for ATC. You would sign for AJ - Aviation Operations which includes some other jobs the same way AF does it. If your not a dumbass you will get ATC. Tell the Marine recruiter you want ATC or nothing. Also, Marines requires you to get a major qual i.e. CTO or approach/arrival within 3 years. No chance of going to a boat or anywhere without a major qual opportunity. 5 year contract unless you go open contract for 4 years and get assigned ATC by chance.
 

haleywlove

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Feb 14, 2016
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Quick question - my boyfriend leaves for basic training in two weeks and has ATC guaranteed in the Navy. He plans on doing one term (5 years). I'm confused though about him getting his certifications, if he is on a ship, can he get his CTO or not? I've read all over the place that certifications on a ship don't count for the FAA or that it's hard to get a CTO if on a ship, so can he get one or no? And if so, does it count or not? I know that it is a shore intensive job but I know that he could still end up on an aircraft carrier so I just want all the facts. I can't find a clear answer thanks!!
 

BrewnATC

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Jan 28, 2015
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Ass deep in a folding chair
Quick question - my boyfriend leaves for basic training in two weeks and has ATC guaranteed in the Navy. He plans on doing one term (5 years). I'm confused though about him getting his certifications, if he is on a ship, can he get his CTO or not? I've read all over the place that certifications on a ship don't count for the FAA or that it's hard to get a CTO if on a ship, so can he get one or no? And if so, does it count or not? I know that it is a shore intensive job but I know that he could still end up on an aircraft carrier so I just want all the facts. I can't find a clear answer thanks!!
No CTO on the ship.
 

NovemberEcho

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Dec 8, 2010
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Marine Corps is right around 64% occupational field health right now for ATC. You would sign for AJ - Aviation Operations which includes some other jobs the same way AF does it. If your not a dumbass you will get ATC. Tell the Marine recruiter you want ATC or nothing. Also, Marines requires you to get a major qual i.e. CTO or approach/arrival within 3 years. No chance of going to a boat or anywhere without a major qual opportunity. 5 year contract unless you go open contract for 4 years and get assigned ATC by chance.
ATC is career specific in the AF. You don't pick a generalization of 3 jobs hoping you get ATC. You either get ATC or you don't. And reference the Guard, it's not that easy to get the qualifying 52 weeks experience anymore. It's explained more in a different thread that I don't feel like searching for but basically just cause you're checked out for 52 weeks date to date, that doesn't count as 52 weeks experience.
 

Echo Mike

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Apr 2, 2015
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If you want to be a controller in the FAA, DO NOT enlist in the ARMY. You will be taking a chance on even getting a rating that qualifies for FAA, or even getting to talk to an aircraft for that matter! Soldier before controller to them in every aspect
 

HollyVVood

Trusted Member
Dec 6, 2013
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If you want to be a controller in the FAA, DO NOT enlist in the ARMY. You will be taking a chance on even getting a rating that qualifies for FAA, or even getting to talk to an aircraft for that matter! Soldier before controller to them in every aspect
I couldn't agree more. If you're going military, the AF is your best bet. But continue to apply for the OTS bids.
 

j_one_s

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Dec 13, 2013
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Pshh
Also I hear the AF trains you using the actual 7110.65 (Federal Aviation Regulations), which is what you need to know to be an FAA ATC. Im guessing other branches use their own version. So already knowing the basics to the 7110.65 would make your load a little lighter at the academy.

A little about my story. I am in a CTI school right now in Alaska, in my last semester. I took a few semesters off so it took me a while, but about half way through, they started not caring so much about the CTI degree. I just decided to keep going, on the off chance something changes.

I don't want to tell you, "Oh yeah CTI is the best thing in the whole world" because it's not, but at the same time, it takes two years. but Military....your going to have to put up with some real shit, and you can't walk away from that.

And even on the open hire bids, they are still asking if you are tower, tracon, and enrout certified by a CTI school. So maybe the FAA is throwing some brownie points to CTI grads, no one really knows.

the one thing i like about CTI, my professors are awesome, and they know thier stuff. You constantly get good insight about the job/work environment from people who have done it for years. Im not sure if there are a whole lot of military controllers who can give you insight about the FAA and civilian side of things though.

Good luck!
 
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j_one_s

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Dec 13, 2013
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Pshh
USMC ATC vet here, we also train with the 7110.65, FAR-AIM, NAVAIR 80T.
I was also going to add that USMC might do as well. quick question for you turnbeaugh, are all USMC controllers officers? I heard somewhere if you want to do ATC in USMC, you need a 4 year degree. is that true?
 

tbbusacker

Newcomer
Jan 10, 2016
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Also I hear the AF trains you using the actual 7110.65 (Federal Aviation Regulations), which is what you need to know to be an FAA ATC. Im guessing other branches use their own version. So already knowing the basics to the 7110.65 would make your load a little lighter at the academy.

A little about my story. I am in a CTI school right now in Alaska, in my last semester. I took a few semesters off so it took me a while, but about half way through, they started not caring so much about the CTI degree. I just decided to keep going, on the off chance something changes.

I don't want to tell you, "Oh yeah CTI is the best thing in the whole world" because it's not, but at the same time, it takes two years. but Military....your going to have to put up with some real shit, and you can't walk away from that.

And even on the open hire bids, they are still asking if you are tower, tracon, and enrout certified by a CTI school. So maybe the FAA is throwing some brownie points to CTI grads, no one really knows.

the one thing i like about CTI, my professors are awesome, and they know thier stuff. You constantly get good insight about the job/work environment from people who have done it for years. Im not sure if there are a whole lot of military controllers who can give you insight about the FAA and civilian side of things though.

Good luck!
So would you say CTI is still my best bet? What do you think the odds are of the FAA accepting CTI again in the next 5-7 years?
 

tbbusacker

Newcomer
Jan 10, 2016
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USMC ATC vet here, we also train with the 7110.65, FAR-AIM, NAVAIR 80T.
Did you leave the USMC with a CTO or similar? If it takes a bit to get hired by the FAA once my enlistment is over, I would like to get on with a contract tower for a year or two.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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Don't listen to someone who has never been in the military about what military ATC is like. Air Force, Marine, and Navy ATC is 99% exactly like ATC in the FAA. Hell, if you're radar in the military than 85% of your traffic is civilian. CTI is a waste of money. You won't learn anything you wouldn't learn in a 5 week basics course at the FAA academy. Some of the teachers are retired FAA, some have never been in the FAA (some are retired military or former students before they get picked up). If you want in the FAA either join the military or keep applying to OTS bids. If you don't have the required work/college experience, either keep working or go to school but not for ATC. Get yourself a degree in something useful in case ATC doesn't work out for whatever reason. The things you learn from CTI, which is basically how to run the sim at the Academy, is not worth $100k, or $50k, or even $30k. t least in the military they pay you to train you, you talk to real planes, and get real qualifications. There's a reason the FAA isn't sending CTI graduates to high level facilities but prior military controllers can go straight to a 12.
 

lowapproach

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Oct 29, 2010
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The estimated cost of attendance for one year in the air traffic management program at Embry-Riddle's Prescott campus is just under $50,000. Maybe when that gave you preferential treatment in hiring, that could be said to be worth something, but at present, it's just a goddamn $200,000 bachelor's degree without much application to anything outside of the FAA Academy. The associate degree programs tend to be less expensive, but they are still much more expensive than a normal associate's degree and still do nothing in terms of getting you a look from HR at the FAA. The FAA should be ashamed that it let itself be used as a marketing tool for these places, allowing students to spend over a hundred thousand dollars in borrowed money on a degree with no real value - especially now that they aren't hiring those people preferentially.

Do not attend a CTI school to become an air traffic controller (or a pilot, for that matter - ask around). At the very minimum, do not spend more on a CTI program than you would spend on an in-state undergraduate degree at your state's best public university, because all you can count on having in the end is the piece of paper issued by the school when you complete your course requirements. If you really want to become an air traffic controller, then your only real options right now are (a) to play the OTS lottery or (b) to join any branch of service that offers you a guaranteed slot in their air traffic control training program. This isn't one of those "REAL controllers come from the military" speeches, just a reflection of hiring reality right now for the FAA. Don't waste your money on CTI, please.
 

Bob Loblaw

Junior Member
Nov 2, 2013
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I agree with most of what lowapproach said . Do not do CTI solely to do ATC and if you were to do CTI, avoid any program that focuses only on ATC. Becoming a pilot is a completely different thing and CTI has little if anything to do with that.

The only thing I disagree on is associate degree programs. My college's program also included a FAA certified dispatch program for practically nothing at community college rates, or at the very least no more expensive than any other course. Every program is different but there are programs that provide real value if being a dispatcher is something you would also be interested in.