Earn CTO (non-FAA), Contract/DOD

LoneStar

Newcomer
Dec 17, 2010
7
0
1
Hey everyone! New here. Been reading as many posts, forums as possible to get caught up on the good info. I can't seem to find the exact answer to my question(s), though.

First, some info about me:

  • I understand the debate and opinions about CTI (schools) vs. CTO ($40-50K programs).
  • I am up-to-speed on the FAA Academy procedures and the max age limit (I'm over 31) and possible opportunities with contract towers and DOD.
  • 33 working as a contract (ATP) pilot in TX
  • B.S., Sport Management; Minor, Bus. Administration; all ratings
Let me preface these questions with this, "I'm asking these knowing that the competition is fierce and that experience is everything. I just would like to know the process/procedures and not the 'chances or stats' of getting a job." Here goes:

  1. If I complete CTI school (getting an AAS is irrelevant for my question), how do I then earn my CTO Certificate (since I read that schools no longer offer it)? Is the process like pilot licenses where I need an endorsement (in this case from the school), find a FAA Examiner, take the test like a free agent?
  2. And then, is the only way to get 6 months tower experience WITH my CTO to stay at the school?
  3. Then I apply to a contract tower job? (again, assuming I'm qualified with the experience, just looking for the procedure)
  4. Or apply to DOD (how do I gain experience in the radar environment to be able to apply for a DOD job in radar)?
Whew...think I covered it all and tried to be concise. Y'all are awesome and I know many of you will know these answers or will at least give me some help in this. I appreciate all of it. I hope to be able to contribute and give back as I begin to go through the process myself and find out good information.
 

MikeATC

Retired FAA, NATCA Member
Apr 3, 2009
1,230
3
38
Nashville TN
The main problem is your age (33) eliminates you from getting on with the FAA as a controller (with or without a CTI degree). The majority of the contract towers require 6 months to a year of experience and that is if you can get your foot in the door.

Other options: Ramp controller (there are a few contract locations), depending on your pilot experience you might consider the FAA as a flight standards district office inspector, or as an FAA flight inspection pilot (ususally fly BE20's).

On the overseas side, just about all the tower contractors require a minimum of 5 years experience. Pilot jobs do exist with Blackwater but again this would depend on your willingness to fly contract in Afghanistan or Iraq (CN235's, CA212's, BE20's, DH8's, etc), then money is real good and the pilots usually do 3 months on, 1 month off types of rotations.
 

hotvedt

Trusted Member
Oct 23, 2008
374
0
16
My answers may not be perfect but they are real close to right.
1. If I complete CTI school (getting an AAS is irrelevant for my question), how do I then earn my CTO Certificate (since I read that schools no longer offer it)? Is the process like pilot licenses where I need an endorsement (in this case from the school), find a FAA Examiner, take the test like a free agent?
Here is why I hate the college route. I did the college and military deal. So nobody get upset and think that I hate CTI. Now, the problem is CTI is worthless outside of the FAA. You won't get an opportunity to use this CTI to obtain a CTO. To get a CTO you will have to take tests and be watched by an examiner. It is free, and I guess you could say endorsements are needed since your trainer and manager will have to sign off on you.

2. And then, is the only way to get 6 months tower experience WITH my CTO to stay at the school?
Yes, that would be the only way unless you knew somebody who might help you slip through the cracks of a contract tower. Unlikely but who knows, the FAA hires people with less experience every quarter.

3. Then I apply to a contract tower job? (again, assuming I'm qualified with the experience, just looking for the procedure)
Yep, but remember everyone with experience that can't a job in the FAA or DOD is applying contract.

4. Or apply to DOD (how do I gain experience in the radar environment to be able to apply for a DOD job in radar)?
Military, contract, or FAA. Most likely the easiest way to get what you want is to go air force. I say AF because I haven't heard of anyone in the AF having a hard time justifying their ratings. Not that the other branches don't produce quality controllers. You could also go ANG. That would be in my opinion the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to go.
 

LoneStar

Newcomer
Dec 17, 2010
7
0
1
Thanks for the answers so far.

And I'm not planning on going the FAA route because of my age.

I just wanna know how the hec I can get my CTO without going to the military (I've checked that route and I'm not qualified because of medical - another story for later. But I do have a first class medical for my flying job) or to one of the CTO programs and paying $50K.

So can I get my CTO and/or radar qualified other than military (disqualified), CTI (only used for FAA candidates), or CTO program (too expensive)?

If not then I'll look into the other positions y'all suggested. Great stuff...thanks.
 

RdRunnr12

Epic Member
May 10, 2009
1,569
9
38
Yeah, the only way to get your CTO, other than military, is through Link or AATC. Both programs are around $40-$50k and will only get you a CTO. Getting the experience will be the difficult part and could prove to make the CTO investment a very poor one.

CTO's are only given to people who have been certified on position in a tower, that's why it's only available via very limited routes.
 

RFDATM

Trusted Contributor
Nov 27, 2009
586
1
18
IL
even the CTO schools (Link. ect) are not a sure bet for a CTO - check the school stats (number of students VS number of CTO's issued by the FAA) before making any plans
 

LoneStar

Newcomer
Dec 17, 2010
7
0
1
Thanks for the help y'all. This helps clear things up a bit. Doesn't seem like a sure thing and the competition would be tough. There are other ways to stay in aviation, get good benefits, and enjoy the job.

Thanks for the help!
 

Bravejango

Senior Member
Oct 20, 2009
254
0
16
Mustang, OK
So far from AATC out of the 10 people that have been observed by the FAA examiner from A80 all 10 have recieved their CTO certificate with a facility rating. as far as contract companies in the US RVA requires 2 years experience, Serco requires a CTO with a facility rating and an additional 6 months experience, and Midwest doesn't state what their experience requirements are. Several of the Grands were allowed to stay at VLD as paid employees. The rest of us are looking at employment opportunities oversees while waiting on the FAA.
 

Bravejango

Senior Member
Oct 20, 2009
254
0
16
Mustang, OK
there has only been one selection panel since the first AATC graduation and only six of us had gotten our CTOs by the time the announcement closed. in which none of us were selected but im not to worried seeing as how only 2 people were selected on this site with a CTO and only a few VRA it seems based on the unofficial poll that was held here on stuck mic they wanted OTS, CTI this selection hopefully things will be different on the next selection.
 

Special_K

Senior Member
Jun 16, 2008
210
0
16
Thanks for the quick reply. I was following the thread talking about AATC, and it stopped dead after the mention of referalls for the last CTO announcement. I figured that probably meant bad news, but I am kind of interested in how well a program like this might lead to a career in ATC for purely curiosity's sake. Good luck to you all on the next panels.
 

RFDATM

Trusted Contributor
Nov 27, 2009
586
1
18
IL
So far from AATC out of the 10 people that have been observed by the FAA examiner from A80 all 10 have recieved their CTO certificate with a facility rating. as far as contract companies in the US RVA requires 2 years experience, Serco requires a CTO with a facility rating and an additional 6 months experience, and Midwest doesn't state what their experience requirements are. Several of the Grands were allowed to stay at VLD as paid employees. The rest of us are looking at employment opportunities oversees while waiting on the FAA.



sounds like another Madoff ponzi scheme
 

Bravejango

Senior Member
Oct 20, 2009
254
0
16
Mustang, OK
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sounds like another Madoff ponzi scheme
really how so? the ones that were allowed to stay were the ones that lived in Valdosta and are getting less then 30 hours a week for the most part. kinda hard to pay on your student loans on 30 hours a week when you have to pay for an apt as well.