In desperate need of some guidance


May 11, 2012
Good afternoon,

To preface this, I am a high school senior, graduating 31/561 in my class (4.0 GPA), and trying to decide whether to pursue my dream to become an ATC.

I'm going to try and lay my questions out plain and simply here:

1. There is a lot of talk about this sequester thing, ATC hiring being cut, OKC facility being faded out... Is this all true? What does this mean for the hiring process?

2. I see mixed variations of views on if CTI is beneficial or not, I would love some advice from someone who really knows what they are talking about. I spoke with a controller at a small tower in Addison, TX. He was a CTI grad, but even he says the program teaches you almost nothing beneficial in the "real world situation" of controlling.

3. I am debating on going into engineering at A&M or going to OU for AT-CTI. OU is much more expensive and if I go, and DON'T ever get hired, that’s an $80,000 mistake.

4. If I decide to not go into CTI and go into getting a 4 year degree, what are the steps to applying into ATC with no training? Should I even bother?

Air traffic control has always been a dream of mine, but I'm caught between a rock and a hard place trying to decide on what to do. Whatever you could tell me would be fantastic, or even if you could refer me to someone who can answer these questions. Thanks so much!


Dec 1, 2012
I am an Air Traffic Controller up in Huntington West Viginia. I've been working for the Faa now for about 5 years.

The honest truth is that there is not a whole lot of information available in reference to the hiring freeze but I just wanted to shine some light on your dream to become an air traffic controller.

I'm going to try to stick to the facts : Congress is cutting money out of the FAA budget and OKC is termporarily closed. This is public knowledge.
However, I can tell you that there is a real need for air traffic controllers. There is a website only available to controllers that shows how many air traffic controllers are : eligible to retire, in training and also the range of controllers(minimum-maximum) that each faa facility will work with.
I can tell you right now it is staggering the amount of facilities that will lose a huge part of their controllers in the near future. The question is not whether or not OKC Academy will open again or not, is when.
Unfortunately, the hiring process is slower than the speed of smell. But if you can endure the tediousness of the process, you'll find out that it's worth the effort.

On the second question,
I went to the CTI school and I honestly enjoyed it. It is true that the CTI school is not "Working full force real world Air Traffic Control" but it does teaches you the basics of how everything works : weather, equipment, phraseology, etc. And believe me, there is a whole lot of information that you have to learn before talking to a real life pilot. Some schools are now incorporating more scenario based training in their CTI schools thou.

Also, I'm not sure if the FAA is still picking up people of the street or just from the CTI schools but one thing is for sure, last time I checked with my friend that works teaching at a CTI school, apparently ( before this sequester fiasco) CTI schools couldnt keep up with the FAA Controller demand.

About what school to go- If you are not too finiky about colleges, there are a few colleges that are not that expensive that also offer the CTI program in their courses/classes. For Example : I work with literally a bunch of guys that went to a college in Beaver County in Pennsilvania. Not too expensive and the cool thing about this college is that you actually work real traffic and you get even better prepared to OKC.

Finally, if you decide not to become an ATCS throu the CTI program, I am almost certain you have to google "faa career opportunities" -"all apportunities"-series "2152". Unofficially, you are considered an " off the steet applicant" if you choose this path. I have to warn you thou, there are not many job openings in this website at this time thou becasuse of the current government circumstances.

I hope that this is useful information and that it will help you make an aducated decision.

Good luck !


Junior Member
Jun 22, 2011
Can you post a link of the URL of that website that shows the controller staffing at each facility (or whatever you were referring to?) Thanks!


Senior Analyst
Mar 31, 2012
Pushing Tin SUCKS

As someone only a year ahead of you, I'll let you know it's a bit daunting. However, I think anyone willing to ride out the storm for a little bit will be glad they did. I personally took a bit of a gamble going the non-CTI route, but as countless people on here will tell you, things have the potential to get much better. Retirements are an inevitability, and I'm resting my laurels on that.

I can tell you from personal experience that there are a few options to take that don't involve tons of student loans and debt. I go to SCCC in upstate New York, and I believe it's a phenomenal program. There haven't been many graduating classes yet for me to give you any solid statistics, but I can tell you we control live traffic at KSCH in the second year. The students I know who are nearing graduation are great controllers already, and I've enjoyed the sim work I've done in my freshman year.

Another comparable route to take would be Beaver County, as Latin_Wonder said. SCCC is very similar, but Beaver County happens to be CTI. Not sure about tuition there, but I only pay around 15,000 a year if I'm not mistaken. Plus that's with private pilot training.

I'm not 100% confident enough about the hiring process to give you a ton of details, but I'm sure some of the more recently hired controllers can fill you in. If you want to know more about my program, I can put you in touch with some of the people in charge. If not, there's a wealth of information on the forums about other schools.

Good luck!


May 29, 2009
There's Tulsa Community College about two hours northeast of OKC. It's only a two year school, but it's much cheaper than OU. TCC has a great program and great instructors. The reviews on here are pretty accurate.

I graduated almost a year ago from TCC and there hasn't been a panel yet. It's frustrating, but in the grand scheme of things, it seems like this will be over relatively soon. The FAA will have to hire again soon. People are retiring and hiring will start up again.


May 11, 2012
Hey everyone, I greatly appreciate all the responses. Has been quite a tough decisions weighing on me and the insight y'all have given has given me a more positive outlook.

@Latin_Wonder, I really appreciate the long response. I have heard some of those same things, and in my opinion with the economy picking up (The DOW's going to close up 18 Tuesdays in a row!), and the large amount of hopeful retirements that are pending the next few years actually look pretty good for hiring.. Although in the aviation industry the "upcoming hiring frenzy" has been here since the 80's haha. Does anyone agree with that outlook?

Also, I have looked into TCC, but have been looking more in depth about LeTU recently, anyone know and grads or have heard anything about the university?


Epic Member
Jun 27, 2010
kingjoemom:242162 said:
Can you post a link of the URL of that website that shows the controller staffing at each facility (or whatever you were referring to?) Thanks!

You can't access it unless you have access to a government computer.


Trusted Contributor
Nov 27, 2009
If ATC is your dream job than do it in the service. USAF - 6 year enlistment, USN or USMC 5 year. You will still be young enough to apply FAA and Vets make much stronger candidates and are hired at a much greater rate than CTI.


Junior Member
Mar 31, 2010
Don't you wanna know?
If ATC is your dream job than do it in the service. USAF - 6 year enlistment, USN or USMC 5 year. You will still be young enough to apply FAA and Vets make much stronger candidates and are hired at a much greater rate than CTI.
This is actually fantastic advice. I went the CTI route and look back and wish that I had done this. They will teach you for free and when you come out you can go to school for business or something on GI bill. Just make sure you get a good enough ASVAB score and talk with a recruiter