what is it like to be an ATC'er

otspct

Rookie
Aug 21, 2008
51
0
6
i am so confused. I applied for the open ATC job with a 4 year degree from College. I didnt go to a cti school, and i did research on this profession and i believed it was one i could succeed at and it payed well. This contradicts that.

How much do you actually get paid when you start at your facility? how long till you get a be fully certified? what is the pay in between starting and being fully certified and what is it at the end?

I would greatly appreciate answers, i am in such confusion.
 

Roddy_Piper

Resident Knucklehead
Jun 15, 2008
3,339
18
38
Vegas baby
www.myspace.com
i am so confused. I applied for the open ATC job with a 4 year degree from College. I didnt go to a cti school, and i did research on this profession and i believed it was one i could succeed at and it payed well. This contradicts that.

How much do you actually get paid when you start at your facility? how long till you get a be fully certified? what is the pay in between starting and being fully certified and what is it at the end?

I would greatly appreciate answers, i am in such confusion.
where is the confusion at? what did u hear?

we get paid less than what were worth. if you haven't heard about the IWR's then maybe that's good for you. the IWR's is probably what has opened opportunities for people like you to get in this career field. it's a proud one, no doubt. good luck in your endeavors, but don't get your hopes up.

Jeff
 
A

Adam

Guest
How much do you actually get paid when you start at your facility? how long till you get a be fully certified? what is the pay in between starting and being fully certified and what is it at the end?

Well....the questions you have asked...have many different answers....

There are many links under the threads "Useful ATC Information" and "The Cheez" that go into detail the pay scales, facility levels, and many other issues.

For starters since you have no ATC experience, you will go to the FAA Academy in OKC making roughly $8.50 an hour. You will also get almost $80 per day for food and living expenses.

The FAA Academy various in length depending on what type of ATC you will do. Tower, TRACON, or EnRoute....you could also be assigned at a facility that has both Tower/TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control)

After you complete the Academy you will be assigned to your facility. You will the be considered an AG and start off making around $32,000 plus locality. Locality is different for all areas of the U.S. The lowest locality pay is around 13% of your base pay and the highest is around 28%...so you will get an additional anywhere from 13% to 28% of the $32,000 added to your salary.

Facility Levels and Locality Percentages

Progression depends on your abilities to grasp the information...though there is a time table in which they expect you to get certified. You will go through stages of certification, Developmental 1 is 25% complete with training, Developmental 2 is 50%, Developmental 3 is 75% complete, then Certified Professional Controller when you are 100% complete.

New FAA Pay Excluding Locality

As you can also see once you look at the pay scale that there are multiple numbers at the top all the way up to 12. Level 12 facilities are your busiest in the nation and as you can see pay the most. Your pay will depend on what status in training, what locality pay, and what level facility you are. The pay scale form does not include locality.

Depending on what type of facility you get assigned, it can take anywhere from 6 months, to 5 years. If you get assigned a level 12 facility say in Oakland, CA, once you are fully certified, you are looking about a little of $100,000 a year.

That is a very basic idea of what to expect. Let me know if you need more information or not and also, browse the other threads and get used to those forms and documents we put on here as they will answer a lot of questions, but again, we are always here if you need anymore help.
 

otspct

Rookie
Aug 21, 2008
51
0
6
Thanks guys! that info is most helpful. The government is false advertising big time, they are saying expect 100k after 2-3 years.

I want to work at one of the DC based Airports, and i want to do terminal ATC. So i guess my questions are, with locality pay from there do you think i can make 100k after 3 or 4 years, or do you think its just smoke and mirrors?
 
A

Adam

Guest
If you get hired at IAD, or BWI, or Potomac TRACON, or Washington Center...and if you get checked out...Certified Professional Controller (CPC) within 3 - 5 years, then yes you will make close to $100,000 if not a little more depending on the facility.

If you go to a place like DCA or RIC or ORF or something then no...not close.
 

otspct

Rookie
Aug 21, 2008
51
0
6
If you get hired at IAD, or BWI, or Potomac TRACON, or Washington Center...and if you get checked out...Certified Professional Controller (CPC) within 3 - 5 years, then yes you will make close to $100,000 if not a little more depending on the facility.

If you go to a place like DCA or RIC or ORF or something then no...not close.
Interesting thanks for the info. it actually makes me feel alot better then i was before when i was reading through all these forums.

I can understand IAD being up there they are 16th in traffic. BUt BWI is 29 and DCA is 30. So at 30 does it go into another classification?

Top 50 Busiest U.S. Airports for 2007 – All Airports
 

WickedPenguin

Junior Member
Jun 20, 2008
114
7
18
Pensacola
pinguinomalo.blogspot.com
It's not just about raw traffic numbers, but complexity and the type of traffic. The FAA uses some kind of algorithm to calculate an ATC level, including traffic count, traffic type (airliners, air taxis, GA, military), airspace complexity, number of positions, etc.
 

mclute20

Rookie
Sep 25, 2008
28
0
1
Sorry to bring up an old thread but I read through this because I was bored.

Just looking for an honest answer, after reading a lot through the site I like a few others have posted was wondering about actual pay.

This article states most atc newbies are only making the 17,000 a year, just to clarify that is only during the roughly 4 months of training correct?

Then once you pass training and move on to your facility you get bumped up to atleast 32,000 a year+ locality and facility size?

If that is correct what would be a realistic goal, before passing certifications, for a new hire ATC in a year. I know base starts at 32000 but that's not including OT, and other differential pay you will receive.

I read through a similar thread somewhere on here but it seems like that one just turned into a can you make 100,000 a year Q&A.
 

zabnut

Senior Member
Jun 17, 2008
275
9
18
Albuquerque
Just looking for an honest answer, after reading a lot through the site I like a few others have posted was wondering about actual pay.

This article states most atc newbies are only making the 17,000 a year, just to clarify that is only during the roughly 4 months of training correct?

Then once you pass training and move on to your facility you get bumped up to atleast 32,000 a year+ locality and facility size?

If that is correct what would be a realistic goal, before passing certifications, for a new hire ATC in a year. I know base starts at 32000 but that's not including OT, and other differential pay you will receive.

I read through a similar thread somewhere on here but it seems like that one just turned into a can you make 100,000 a year Q&A.
Hopefully I can help make a few more things clear. Any information from the FAA is misleading at best, its like dealing with a greasy used car salesman. Pretty nice first impression of your potential new employer, huh?

Yes, you make $8 and hour and change while at the academy, you also get per diem of around $75 a day (7 days a week) to live on if you stay at one of the approved living facilities. While that is not a fortune it is enough to live on in OKC since it is pretty cheap to live there anyhow. Keep in mind you are only living there temporarily so the cost for rent is pretty high compared to long term residents, Many new hires room with others to save on rent, I personally think that is a poor choice. Rooming with a stranger that is also temporary when you get enough in per diem does not make sense to me no matter how you spell it out. Once you move in together you are pretty much stuck for 3 to 4 months with someone that could be a total slob or someone that does not care about your privacy is the last thing I would want when trying to ensure I keep my new job. If you can't live on $2200 Tax free and $1200 taxed a month on OKC, then you might as well quit, because you won't survive in Oakland or Miami on $34K a year salary.

The base is around $34K a year after OKC and yes it varies but only by a little bit due to locality, the one exception is Houston where the locality was artificially inflated by Enron ect. and is actually much higher than the actual cost of living there. I would not count on Diffs or OT to be added while in training, as many trainees start classes right away (Mon-Fri AM shifts) and get no diffs for a while. Others get Sunday pay if they have certain days off and some night diffs, most are forced off on Holidays. My point is count on the base and any extra is just that, extra. Our trainees get no overtime until they are functional (Have 2 RA sides) and even then it is very limited.

CPC pay varies widely and depends on where you go, yes a select few can make $100K a year after years of training I might add, but a lion's share make less, much less. THIS is the part the FAA won't tell you. If you go to the lowest level facility you might get checked out in 6 months but make $42K a year base. There are as many spots for lower pay facilities as there are for high paid ones. Think about living in Aspen, CO making $45K after you check out. How does that work? You got me, you can make more bar tending there than controlling traffic. It will comfort you to know that there was someone from ABQ tower making over $100K a year plus per diem because no new hires are stupid enough to go there for those wages. She said she suffered there even at those wages because the rent was so high.

Here is another example. If you come to ZAB you make about $74K a year as a CPC (About $35 an hour) plus an average of 10% for diffs and probably as much overtime as you can handle for the next couple of years. I figured if you worked 50 overtimes you would barely make $100K, or about $15K less than the old pay without any overtime. ($105+10% for average diffs which is $115,500) ZAB like many other places will have you wait at the base pay for over a year at this point before you even start training. THEN after 3 to 4 years (Some have taken a decade) of training you might get checked out. Most here are checking out to get a certificate and then applying at Lockmart or DOD to get a pay raise. If I could get a pay raise and not have to work for the FAA anymore I would be gone in a heartbeat. I am tired of the lack of leave and being treated like crap. One thing to note is that OT will stop eventually, if you move anywhere where you are counting on that to survive you will end up in financial ruin. I am only saying that because some people are adding OT into the equation like it is an entitlement or part of the normal pay structure and it is not. If you don't think you could survive on base plus an average of 10% (Night diffs/sunday pay and holidays) then you are setting yourself up for bankruptcy.
 

photostarr

Junior Member
Aug 30, 2008
121
0
16
One thing to keep in mind, for everyone out there, is what kind of lifestyle you want and whether or not between $60k-$80k a year is going to meet that. I'm guessing here, but I imagine that between those two figures is probably the realistic average of ATC pay. (around $5000/month?) Correct me if I'm wrong people. I'm not collecting a paycheck yet. :) Break down $5000 a month and see what you can do with that.

Personally, it blows me away when someone is complaining about only making $80k a year. ONLY $80K??? I understand the desperation some people are feeling due to the economy crisis, but I know too many people that make under $50K a year and lead incredibly healthy and happy lives. It's a matter of where you get your joy from. It also depends on WHERE you are, too.

I'm saying all of this because I just want each person to look at the FACTS of what they'll be making (compute what you'd make where you hope to work), and determine for themselves how they'll live their life making $50k or $80k or halleluya, $100k! Don't let anyone elses' complaints or issues daunt you from this field. Regardless of all the negative aspects of this job, I look forward to controlling air traffic and contributing to something significant in the larger scheme of things.

Feel free to call me out on all this, but take it for what it is. Simply my own opinion and view of things.

:nopity:
 

zabnut

Senior Member
Jun 17, 2008
275
9
18
Albuquerque
One thing to keep in mind, for everyone out there, is what kind of lifestyle you want and whether or not between $60k-$80k a year is going to meet that. I'm guessing here, but I imagine that between those two figures is probably the realistic average of ATC pay. (around $5000/month?) Correct me if I'm wrong people. I'm not collecting a paycheck yet. :) Break down $5000 a month and see what you can do with that.

Personally, it blows me away when someone is complaining about only making $80k a year. ONLY $80K??? I understand the desperation some people are feeling due to the economy crisis, but I know too many people that make under $50K a year and lead incredibly healthy and happy lives. It's a matter of where you get your joy from. It also depends on WHERE you are, too.

I'm saying all of this because I just want each person to look at the FACTS of what they'll be making (compute what you'd make where you hope to work), and determine for themselves how they'll live their life making $50k or $80k or halleluya, $100k! Don't let anyone elses' complaints or issues daunt you from this field. Regardless of all the negative aspects of this job, I look forward to controlling air traffic and contributing to something significant in the larger scheme of things.

Feel free to call me out on all this, but take it for what it is. Simply my own opinion and view of things.

:nopity:
I think you get people complaining about making "Only" $80K a year in Albuquerque because we got hit as one of the hardest in the pay cuts. Before Reclass we where GS-14s. We where supposedly working ATC-11 traffic but where classified as ATC-10. Marion Blakey's "Reclass" put us at about GS-12 while most other Enroute Centers where put closer to GS-14s.
In addition Flight Service in our own city makes about GS-13 so do some of the DOD jobs that some people are quitting the FAA to work for.

Last thing to note is that many see the OLD guys making $150K living 2-5 minutes from work in $400K houses while they have to drive 20-45 minutes to work through BS traffic because they can't afford a home anywhere close to work.

One last last note LOL. It is frustrating to see someone only 2 years senior to them making $30K more doing the very same (or worse) job. Then that weakstick takes a supe job and now they are making $50K more than they are for doing less.

So while I agree with you, in most cases making "Only" $80K you really should not complain. I think if we ALL made somewhere close to that then that mentality makes sense. Sure the more senior Should make more, but not almost 75% more on average. Some of the oldest easily double the new CPC pay.

I think if you try to see things from the new hire's perspective like I have and I can certainly understand their frustrations. If I where them I would do just like many are doing here, resigning after they check out and get a better paying job with less responsibility and better working conditions. I bet 99.999% of them LOVED to work traffic too, but the distractions the FAA offers by messing with people and the pay inequity would make me want to leave if I was a new hire.

Just because people here in Abq are living on $50K a year for a family of 4 does not mean these new hires should be happy they are making much more than that. It has to do more with decent pay for the responsibility we bear. You can make $10K more a year at FSS with virtually no responsibility or DOD with 1/10th the traffic and make $15K more a year. I don't think I talked to any of them that left that said they left to DO LESS they wanted to get paid MORE and be left alone to do their job.

My point is HOW LOW does the pay have to go, before you would say it's not worth it? Your point and someone else's may be totally different. By the resignations I have seen here locally I think that speaks for itself.
 

photostarr

Junior Member
Aug 30, 2008
121
0
16
I think you get people complaining about making "Only" $80K a year in Albuquerque because we got hit as one of the hardest in the pay cuts. Before Reclass we where GS-14s. We where supposedly working ATC-11 traffic but where classified as ATC-10. Marion Blakey's "Reclass" put us at about GS-12 while most other Enroute Centers where put closer to GS-14s.
In addition Flight Service in our own city makes about GS-13 so do some of the DOD jobs that some people are quitting the FAA to work for.

Last thing to note is that many see the OLD guys making $150K living 2-5 minutes from work in $400K houses while they have to drive 20-45 minutes to work through BS traffic because they can't afford a home anywhere close to work.

One last last note LOL. It is frustrating to see someone only 2 years senior to them making $30K more doing the very same (or worse) job. Then that weakstick takes a supe job and now they are making $50K more than they are for doing less.

So while I agree with you, in most cases making "Only" $80K you really should not complain. I think if we ALL made somewhere close to that then that mentality makes sense. Sure the more senior Should make more, but not almost 75% more on average. Some of the oldest easily double the new CPC pay.

I think if you try to see things from the new hire's perspective like I have and I can certainly understand their frustrations. If I where them I would do just like many are doing here, resigning after they check out and get a better paying job with less responsibility and better working conditions. I bet 99.999% of them LOVED to work traffic too, but the distractions the FAA offers by messing with people and the pay inequity would make me want to leave if I was a new hire.

Just because people here in Abq are living on $50K a year for a family of 4 does not mean these new hires should be happy they are making much more than that. It has to do more with decent pay for the responsibility we bear. You can make $10K more a year at FSS with virtually no responsibility or DOD with 1/10th the traffic and make $15K more a year. I don't think I talked to any of them that left that said they left to DO LESS they wanted to get paid MORE and be left alone to do their job.

My point is HOW LOW does the pay have to go, before you would say it's not worth it? Your point and someone else's may be totally different. By the resignations I have seen here locally I think that speaks for itself.

I can definitely appreciate that perspective. And if I was in anyone else's shoes in that situation, I'd be walking just as quickly towards the easier and better paying job too! It seems that there are specific places around the States that are much more difficult compared to the lower pay received. My post was aimed more at people just getting into ATC like myself, who are easily influenced by the words of "the older and wiser" ATC'ers out there. I've been discouraged any number of times by people on these posts who've put up really critical and ugly posts about ATC. I was hoping to temper this thread with something a little more positive to think about.

I suppose what I'm saying is that, while we shouldn't ignore some of the poorer aspects of working conditions lately in ATC, we should look at the big picture of what we want out of life and whether or not ATC is going to give you that.
 

mclute20

Rookie
Sep 25, 2008
28
0
1
Thanks, Thats what I was looking for a more realistic idea of what to expect.

I have read a lot of the post and was wondering the same thing about getting by on only 50, 60... thousand a year.

I can understand living in high cost areas with families. Being 25 with only a few responsibilities myself I would be leaving a job making 40 grand a year sitting at a desk 8 hours a day to go to something that would at least start right around what I was making before I left.

The main reason I would be making a change is my desire to do something new and not work at a dead end job dealing with the dumbest people alive on a daily basis. (im sure this will end up being simliar to the FAA, every place has there idiots)

Also having a government job in today's economy to plan towards the future is a huge benefit in my opinion.Having some stability offered for retirement compared to having a 401k set up and seeing that get lower every day is not the biggest confidence booster in my opinion.

I also understand the difference between the old/new pay system and the veteran controllers holding a gripe about that. If I worked at a job for years then they come and say "we are taking away X amount from your salary" who wouldnt be pissed about that.

I just wanted to get a better grip on what to expect, from the FAA they make it seem like 100,000 will be in your pocket the day after you pass the academy. Then after reading post here it makes it seem like you have to scrape by on nothing.
 

zabnut

Senior Member
Jun 17, 2008
275
9
18
Albuquerque
photostarr,
I understand, so many older guys are blasting the new hires for taking a job for less pay, but everyone needs a job. I think plenty of people take the job not even realizing the pay disparity. Others take the job expecting more pay because their employer says so in misleading information when hiring.

McClute20,
Good thing about ATC is while many of us only control traffic our entire careers it never gets old. Honestly I have been doing this for 20+ years and I love controlling traffic. Even though I don't see what I produce like someone working in a factory I still feel a sense of accomplishment every day. On the other hand I hate my employer and am grateful I can retire very soon. While ATC has provided me a decent lifestyle I want better for my kids, I want them to be happier and have an employer that treats them much better. To make it clear the people on the older pay scale never got a pay cut, just no real raises, which leads to less spending power. It is hard to complain about no pay raises when making the money I do, but this late in the game I was kind of counting on SOME kind of raise for my retirement high 3. I figure my final year's pay will be reduced by almost $30K from what I expected and my retirement to be reduced by $10K a year for the rest of my life. I think the hardest pill to swallow is all the management types still getting raises and the office pukes.
 

Mizzou80

Senior Member
Sep 24, 2008
281
0
16
If you get hired at IAD, or BWI, or Potomac TRACON, or Washington Center...and if you get checked out...Certified Professional Controller (CPC) within 3 - 5 years, then yes you will make close to $100,000 if not a little more depending on the facility.

If you go to a place like DCA or RIC or ORF or something then no...not close.
I believe IAD and BWI are both lvl 9 facilities. Locality for washington area is 20.89 percent. So I am not sure if you could actually hit 100k there with the new pay rules.

I was selected for DCA, they are technically a lvl 9 facility (meaning that is the ammount of traffic they actaully get), but they get lvl 10 pay. If you max out your pay at DCA you can make over 100k. Not saying it is easy or that it necisarily will happen, but it is possible.
 

Mizzou80

Senior Member
Sep 24, 2008
281
0
16
scratch that, I went back and double checked my info. Dulles (IAD) is a lvl 11 facility. Sorry about that. BWI is a lvl 9 for pay purposes though.

On a side note; if you are interested in the towers around DC, you might want to do some research and talk to some of the people from the facilities. I talked to some people at dulles (who will remain nameless) that made me really NOT want to go there. DCA is a lvl lower and less pay, but money is not everything. I really loved the environment at DCA and you can't put a price tag on looking forward to going to work in the morning.
 

GQ007

Rookie
Jun 19, 2008
48
0
6
NYC
Being from the DC area if I were to have stayed here my first choice would've be DCA and IAD second (although I have not heard anything bad about it, the commute in itself is a drawback for me)...nonetheless it's a moot point cause I used this opportunity as an excuse to up root myself to the NYC area... I cannot wait
 

JohnMck

Newcomer
Dec 15, 2008
2
0
1
i have a few questions.......

1. How stressful is the job honestly, does it take a toll on your non work time, family?
2. What is the payrate for MCO
3. What is the best/worst part of your life with this career?