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Career, any ATC folks here?

Old 08-16-2014, 03:27 PM
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Default Career, any ATC folks here?

What is the long term career outlook for an Air Traffic Controller?

A teenage Boy Scout I know will be going to college soon, then wants to go into the Navy as an officer and become an ATC in the Navy. Then put in his time and come out and get a federal job as an ATC.

I told him my little bit of research showed that there will definitely be a need.

What say the THT community, especially those in the business?

As always...thanks!
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Old 08-16-2014, 04:43 PM
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Officers don't do traditional ATC in the Navy. It is strictly an enlisted career field. The few officers that do it were enlisted first. Its not really something to jump into with the expectation that he'd be an officer quickly.

Naval Flight Officers that fly in the back of the E-2C Hawkeye do duties that are similar to an Air Traffic Controller.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northro...an_E-2_Hawkeye

The Air Force has Command and Control Officers, or so they say. I'm not sure how that would translate to a career with the FAA.

ATC is really an enlisted field in the military. That isn't a bad thing, but the money is definitely different.
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Old 08-16-2014, 04:58 PM
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Ok, that's some good info flyau98, will certainly pass it along. So can I infer that money wise would be better to stay civilian for ATC.
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Old 08-16-2014, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by spraynet 1 View Post
Ok, that's some good info flyau98, will certainly pass it along. So can I infer that money wise would be better to stay civilian for ATC.
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:18 AM
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Atcfris is the house atc guy here.
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:37 AM
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That's perfect, I will send him a pm and see what he thinks.

Thanks, I was beginning to think we had no controllers here.
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by The Revenge View Post
Atcfris is the house atc guy here.
Ditto. I actually met him Friday night while my daughter and I were passing through Savannah. Nice guy and I'm sure he'll let you know his thoughts, especially on the military aspect.
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:37 AM
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That's great Sprockets, thanks for the input. I must say that you seem to be doing well. Your getting out, traveling, meeting new folks! Good for you young man!
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Old 08-17-2014, 02:23 PM
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Will reply Monday folks, Im on my phone right now. Let me get back to my computer and will answer all of the questions.
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Old 08-17-2014, 06:10 PM
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my son just finished his atc training back in april but hes in the air force.he went in as enlisted. hes doing rapcon which is the military version of tracon. the training was hard and there was an 80% wash out rate but was able to get through.he had to sign up for 6 year active once he got the atc job offer. if you need any info about it let me know and ill find out from him
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Old 08-17-2014, 06:12 PM
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Not surprised it took atcfris so long to respond...

They're always on the land line!
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:18 PM
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You mean to tell me there are folks still using
"Land Lines"?
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:20 PM
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total mayhem...

That would be great. This young lad really wants to go the military route, so any advise would be great.

Thanks
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Old 08-18-2014, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by flyau98 View Post
Officers don't do traditional ATC in the Navy. It is strictly an enlisted career field. The few officers that do it were enlisted first. Its not really something to jump into with the expectation that he'd be an officer quickly.
This is correct, the only way to become an ATCFO (Air Traffic Control Facility Officer) is via the LDO (Limited Duty Officer) program, and that means that you would have to be an E-6 and eligible for E-7, or E-7 and up. This is achieved through a highly successful ATC career as an enlisted person, and the competition is very tough, top 1%. Once you make it to ATFCO, your days of "humping traffic" are typically over, and you become a desk jockey managing the facility and personnel.

Originally Posted by flyau98 View Post
ATC is really an enlisted field in the military. That isn't a bad thing, but the money is definitely different.
It got better, with the implementation of SDAP (Special Duty Assignment Pay) it was a decent boost.

Originally Posted by spraynet 1 View Post
Ok, that's some good info flyau98, will certainly pass it along. So can I infer that money wise would be better to stay civilian for ATC.
Yes, however there is currently no way to become an ATC'er without going through the military and obtaining the required certifications. The civilian attempt to do this and be able to be an Off The Street (OTS) hire was through the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative Program (AT-CTI), however it ultimately proved to be a catastrophe for the majority of the students who went through it, because in the end they could not get hired mostly and were ruled to be ineligible and/or not qualified, and more importantly that they could not compete against prior military controllers who had multiple Control Tower Operator (CTO) licences, and/or Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON)/Radar Approach Control (RAPCON)/Army Radar Approach Control (ARAC) licenses, that's Navy/Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army terminology respectively.

Originally Posted by total mayhem View Post
my son just finished his atc training back in april but hes in the air force.he went in as enlisted. hes doing rapcon which is the military version of tracon. the training was hard and there was an 80% wash out rate but was able to get through.he had to sign up for 6 year active once he got the atc job offer. if you need any info about it let me know and ill find out from him
That's the Air Force version, and also radar only. TRACON implies terminal and outside of the Air Force/Army it encompasses both Tower and Radar (Up/Down). All Navy/Marine Corps TRACON's will be dual rated controllers, that is to say both CTO and TRACON licenses will be possible to achieve, where as the Air Force RAPCON is only an approach ticket, no tower, likewise for Army ARAC.

The enlistment requirements are longer due to the schooling and training times required to make a contribution, 6 years for the AF and 5 years for the Navy/Marine Corps. This only applies to the first enlistment.

Originally Posted by ProppedUp View Post
Under normal circumstances the military option is wonderful. However as I understand it these days there is a real jackass running that show so I don't know.
Unfortunately it's the only way to get into the career field at this juncture, unless the FAA and/or congress decides to undo a whole lot of detriment and disappointment to thousands of CTI graduates who got screwed over big time, especially with the age requirements to get in, which many of them exceeded in the years they were waiting to get hired after CTI. A huge mess to say the least and very sad for a great bunch of people who had a passion to become ATC'ers.

spraynet, you can learn alot on www.stuckmic.com, tons of great info there and a wealth of knowledge and expertise.

Here would be my answer, Air Force, period. Get in, excel, then once necessary licenses are achieved, apply for civilian life.

If AF is not an option, next choice Marine Corps.

Navy is last due to sea time, as all sea ATC qualifications are irrelevant for the civilian world.

Army doesn't even make my list because they are just about all TAC (Tactical) controllers and never get a chance to work at an actual aiport and/or achieve any relevant ATC licenses. All Army airports are 100% civilian run now. A very few TAC controllers earn the chance to train at an airport, and then half of the Army ATC is done in Airspace Information Centers (AIC) and that qualification is also irrelevant to the civilan ATC world. I have to also say that in my experience, and due largely in part to these factors, Army controllers are the least capable out of all the branches, no offense Army, but it's just the truth.

The AF and the Navy/Marine Corps is where it's at, real towers, real approach controls, real traffic, no BS.

Everything in the AF is nicer than the Navy/Marine Corps, and they don't go to sea.

Anyway, once in, expect about a 17 week ATC school which has a tremendous wash rate of above 80%. If they make it, they will get to their first facility and enter into the training program. From there it's all On-The-Job (OJT) training and a serious amount of mass memorization and testing. If it's at a top level facility the training program can last anywhere from 2-5 years, depending on your ability and your training priority amongst other trainees.

All that being said, competition is tough, the military is downsizing and much of the militray ATC system has been converted to DoD civilian controllers all together, or at least integrated into for augmentation of manning and mission/operational tempo requirements.

In any regard, it's a very challenging and rewarding career field to be in, and it is also a relatively small one, there aren't many of us all together. The pay and benefits are above normal, the people are among the greatest I have ever known, and I truly love the work. It's not for everyone, but for those that can do it, they eat, sleep, and poop it.

As a side note, you need thick skin, the personality types are A, the competition is fierce, and the pace is extremely demanding, you have to be on your game and you have to be able to play the game, it's not for the feint of heart, and the weaker individuals get worked out fairly quickly.

Lastly, this job is not going anywhere.

Let know if you have anymore questions.

Last edited by atcfris; 08-18-2014 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 08-18-2014, 02:13 PM
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And all this time I thought you just sat in a ivory tower, drinking coffee while looking through really cool binoculars.



But on the flip side, I bet it has it's nail bitting times as well. Personally, I don't think my stomach could take it.
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Old 08-18-2014, 02:16 PM
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I always heard they had brutally stupid way of scheduling work. Rotating shifts almost every day or so. Not sure how true has the person I heard that from dropped out schooling before he went any further. At least for major hubs. The only other one I knew was fired by Reagan
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Old 08-18-2014, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by rotaryjohn View Post
I always heard they had brutally stupid way of scheduling work. Rotating shifts almost every day or so. Not sure how true has the person I heard that from dropped out schooling before he went any further. At least for major hubs. The only other one I knew was fired by Reagan
Yes, we work rotaing shift work, and it's not for everybody. But to me it's normal, I could never do 9-5. It's not "brutally stupid" however, there are reasons as to why it has to be that way, lots of rules have to be adhered to.
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Old 08-18-2014, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Seefood Man View Post
And all this time I thought you just sat in a ivory tower, drinking coffee while looking through really cool binoculars.
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Old 08-18-2014, 04:00 PM
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I'd say Marines, because a good quality of life and hot chicks all over the place is for the birds.
Tell the kid to go AF, and Marines as a secondary. Getting in the AF is very hard right now, and will continue to be that way for a few years.
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Old 08-18-2014, 04:22 PM
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if he goes af and completes training he will do shift work while hes in and also get put on standby on days off if needed. he was able to come home for Christmas last 2 years because he was still in training. this year he will be working or on standby from what he has been told. easiest way to get started is to take the asvab and see how he scores. that will determine every thing. was a 7 month process from when we 1st saw the recruiter until he left for basic training
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