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Question by Code man: Is Air Traffic Controller a good job to invest in?
So I’m going into the Navy as an OS, and I hear that Air Traffic Controller is a great job that correlates with OS. So with 5 years as an OS in the Navy, I may definitely consider going Air Traffic Controller as a civilian. I hear that they make on average around $ 110,000 per year, however they also have a very stressful work environment, which honestly I’m ok with. But I’ll only go for that as a career if I have a knack for it and I enjoy that line of work. So I’m wondering what other benefits Air Traffic Controllers have, and if it’s worth the stress to get a solid 100k a year?
Also, what are good skills to have for this job?
Answer by Kyle
It depends on what you’re looking for in the job. For the most part, it is a very stable and secure job as they are almost always spared from government spending cuts (even with the current sequester, our job was saved after a week of furloughs). Retirement is another great benefit. In the US, most government employees automatically contribute 1% of their pay to their retirement pension fund. In air traffic, we contribute 1.3%, so that gives us a lot more money in the long term to retire comfortably. We also have access to health and dental, vision, a separate retirement fund, etc.
We do have the privilege of riding jumpseat in the cockpit of participating airlines. This is done because as controllers, it really helps to understand the other side of the microphone when you are working to see why a pilot can or cannot accept an instruction. It allows you to see up close the workload the flight crew encounters in a given flight. It is quite a neat experience and if you get the opportunity, I recommend it at least once.
One of the main benefits though is that you will be among a very small group of individuals (there are only about 15,000 of us) who are fiercely dedicated to their job and take pride in the work they do. Yes, we do have our outliers, who are miserable and are just waiting for the day they no longer have to do the job, but by and large, every single one of us are immensely proud to call ourselves air traffic controllers.
Yes, the salary is good. In your busier facilities like O’Hare, LAX, Miami, JFK, etc., senior controllers can make $ 150k per year. With overtime and premium pay, that can easily jump to over $ 200k.
Some good skills to have include the ability to multi-task effectively and prioritize. I think the most important skill you need to posses is a demonstrated ability to learn and accept constructive criticism. You will screw up in training. I guarantee it. You will screw up when you finally do get cut loose. The REAL training doesn’t begin until you no longer have your trainer looking over your shoulder. You must be willing to listen to your trainer, and learn from your mistakes. This is not a job that just anyone can do. It requires countless hours of bookwork and on-the-job training.
What do you think? Answer below!