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ATCs--what's Your Story?  
User currently offlinegoblin211 From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 1209 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 5268 times:

I would like to work at the airport personally, ATL, ORD, EWR, SFO, JFK, or LAX. But all ATCs are welcome to give me a better insight into the job. I would appreciate it if you'd tell me how you got to be where you are now so I can better understand how to accomplish my goal.
Specifically:
-education
-what kind of controller are you
-how you cope with the stress (especially at ATL)
Anything else you'd like to add would be greatly appreciated.
I plan on attending ERAU and am a senior in high school. I'm sure you'll tell me I'm crazy but I'm fascinated with your line of work and have been for a very long time. Thanks.


From the airport with love
34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineP3Orion From United States of America, joined May 2006, 544 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5260 times:

ATC is a great profession. I get to play with airplanes. Plain and simple. My career started in the Navy. I was a controller at NAS Brunswick ATCT/TRACON. It was an "up/down" meaning the facility worked both Tower and Approach. the USN gave me a great opportunity learn ATC and set me up perfectly for the FAA. The ATC was the same except we had to wear a uniform and was payed a lot less. Some controllers go the military route, others choose CTI. It all depends on the individual. The military offers live traffic, not simulators and you will not be in debt with student loans when you separate. After the Navy, I worked at a couple VFR Towers in New England. Then I was "picked up" at Washington ARTCC. Enroute was not my cup of tea. It is more strategic in thinking; like chess. I hate chess. The Terminal world is very tactical. Think short term planning. From ZDC, I transfered to Albany ATCT/TRACON in upstate NY. "Up/downs" are the best facilities to work at. You get to play both Tower and Approach so you never get tired of one or the other. From ALB, I transfered to ORD ATCT. I have been here 5 1/2 years and enjoy plugging in everyday. training at O'Hare was the hardest, most difficult thing I have ever done. The day I certified, it felt as though the entire weight of the World lifted from my shoulders. Outbound Ground is my favorite position to work. Inbound Ground, however, is like herding cats. Working North Local on plan X is also entertaining.

Don't be fooled by ATL, a monkey can work parallels.   

Best of luck to you.

MX



"Did he say strap in or strap on?"
User currently offlinegoblin211 From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 1209 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5244 times:

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 1):


Thank you. I want to go to college rather than the Navy, with all do respect. My plan is to go to ERAU but if you or anyone else that responds knows of a cheaper college with ATC Management as a major I'd much appreciate it. I don't really like Florida and would love to live somewhere else within a year as I am a high school senior.

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 1):
I have been here 5 1/2 years and enjoy plugging in everyday. training at O'Hare was the hardest, most difficult thing I have ever done. The day I certified, it felt as though the entire weight of the World lifted from my shoulders. Outbound Ground is my favorite position to work. Inbound Ground, however, is like herding cats. Working North Local on plan X is also entertaining.

I envy you very much right now.  Wow!
Quoting P3Orion (Reply 1):
Don't be fooled by ATL, a monkey can work parallels.

LOL.



From the airport with love
User currently offlineNBGSkyGod From United States of America, joined May 2004, 826 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 5081 times:

You may also want to look at Beaver College in Pennsylvania, they one of only a few CTI schools that allow the students to work in the real tower at the airport and obtain a CTO. I am not sure about the cost, but that is a huge plus when looking for a gov't job. Also the college formerly known as Daniel Webster in Nashua, NH is still operating their CTI school, although the rest of the flight department has been/is being disbanded. If you can get your hands on the March 2011 issue of FLYING magazine, they have a whole section on aviation oriented schools, while its mostly for flight training, many of them also have ATC CTI programs.

My background was also Navy, I spent 5 years down in New Orleans at the NAS down there, now I work for a contractor up here in Northern New England, and been here about 5 years. In talking to several of the ZBW guys very few of the new generation are ex military, most have come from CTI schools such as ERAU.

Hope this helps.



"I use multi-billion dollar military satellite systems to find tupperware in the woods."
User currently offlineandyinpit From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 320 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 4947 times:

I'll throw my vote in for CCBC in PA as well. I went there from September 2007 to December of 2008. If you go through the terminal program, you'll get to work the tower (enroute doesn't work the tower for obvious reasons) However, you no longer receive a CTO from the program. Something about the FAA coming in and saying the hours for training weren't enough. (35 on ground and 35 on local, which in my opinion was more than enough for Beaver). But the school is still great, and quick. I was out of state, and paid a total of $16000 to go. If you can transfer any credits in, or if you get your private pilots licence before you go, that time and cost will reduce. I suggest going to their website and finding the contact info for Jim Scott, he runs the program.

I got picked up from a CTO announcement (my class was the 2nd to last to get them) and was hired within 8 months. Average wait time right now is 1-2 years. But there are still people from my class that aren't working yet. The numbers the FAA had projected to retire and slowing down. More people are hanging on because the pay started to creep back up.

I started with the FAA in Portland, Maine. I was only there for 6 months, and had to get what is called a hardship transfer for my wife and some medical conditions she had. I wanted to stay in Maine, but gotta make the boss happy.

I tried to get a transfer to somewhere in VA, where she is from, but the best the FAA could do was BWI (Baltimore, MD). After a little over a year there, I was given the opportunity to transfer out and get my wife back home. So I took a transfer to Potomac TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) which handles all radar services from basically Richmond, VA up to Washington Dulles, then over to BWI and most of the Eastern Shore. The facility is divided up into 4 areas, but I'll leave all that lame stuff out.

So less than 2 years in, and I'm on my 3rd facility. It's not like I suck or anything   I was certified in Baltimore, just didn't like the area and had the chance to jump ship. I honestly can't imagine doing anything different. Like P3 said, you get to play with airplanes all day. There is a great amount of respect for the guys that work those complex airports. And yes, anyone can work 7 parallels. But there is something to be said to pulling out a pad of paper and a pen and working a small VFR tower.

There is also a website, www.stuckmic.com which has a wealth of information about ATC, the hiring process, the training Academy in Oklahoma, etc.


User currently offlinemmedford From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 561 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4880 times:

I'll chime in here; I'm not a controller but I witness alot of their activities and apart of the whole show.

The agency reports a 20-30% failure rate at the academy and that's starting to rise. Too many people are passing at the academy and failing out at their duty stations; so inorder to combat that. The agency is stepping up training at the academy. Clean testing...more EHoT/DoP deals.

Also; OEP airports are great...alot of traffic. But the stress isn't from the job; it's from trying to learn the facility as fast as you can. I've seen a person or 2 get checked out in a year. I've seen plenty more fail out.

If you really want to cut your teeth in this field, try a real facility... N90 or JFK. N90 has a 90% failure rate from what I hear and at JFK; the numbers are similar.



ILS = It'll Land Somewhere
User currently offlineSPREE34 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 2248 posts, RR: 9
Reply 6, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 4866 times:

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 1):
Don't be fooled by ATL, a monkey can work parallels.

   And, it's true.



I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21701 posts, RR: 55
Reply 7, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 4851 times:

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 1):
Don't be fooled by ATL, a monkey can work parallels.

Hey, soon you too will be a monkey.  

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlinePHLapproach From Philippines, joined Mar 2004, 1246 posts, RR: 20
Reply 8, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4840 times:

Quoting mmedford (Reply 5):
N90 has a 90% failure rate from what I hear and at JFK; the numbers are similar.

N90 has that high failure rate because a lot of the CPCs don't give the Developmentals the time of day. That's where that number came from.


User currently offlineP3Orion From United States of America, joined May 2006, 544 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 4737 times:

Quoting mmedford (Reply 5):
If you really want to cut your teeth in this field, try a real facility... N90 or JFK. N90 has a 90% failure rate from what I hear and at JFK; the numbers are similar.

I would recommend trying to go to a ATC 8 or 9 "up/down" as your first facility. A place like BUF, BNA or IND are busy enough so you learn the fundamentals and basics and can develop your skills. Anyplace slower and you will learn bad habits. A busier facility might be overwhelming. There is nothing wrong with a goal of working at a 12, just be smart about it and work your way up.



"Did he say strap in or strap on?"
User currently offlineTower From United States of America, joined Feb 2011, 107 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4649 times:

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 9):
I would recommend trying to go to a ATC 8 or 9 "up/down" as your first facility. A place like BUF, BNA or IND are busy enough so you learn the fundamentals and basics and can develop your skills. Anyplace slower and you will learn bad habits. A busier facility might be overwhelming. There is nothing wrong with a goal of working at a 12, just be smart about it and work your way up.

From what i've heard is that the agency stopped sending new hires to level 11 and level 12's now because of the wash rate was so high. But i'm not privy to the hiring. I love where I am at though because it is a lot like you described.


User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 11, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4638 times:

Quoting Tower (Reply 10):
From what i've heard is that the agency stopped sending new hires to level 11 and level 12's now because of the wash rate was so high. But i'm not privy to the hiring. I love where I am at though because it is a lot like you described.



It is not fair for a new hire to be dumped into an ATC 10 or higher, isn't fair to them nor those who must provide the OJT to them for the next few years.

I started in the military, then to the academy after my 4 years were up in the Army, then to a Level 3 Radar/Tower facility where I got some seasoning for a couple of years and finally to the Level 5, now ATC 12. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!  



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlinePapaChuck From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 136 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4601 times:

Another Beaver grad here! Great program, and I highly recomend it or a similar CTI school if you don't want to go the military route. The only downside was living in Beaver Falls, but I digress...

I went through the terminal program as I also shared your dream of working a busy tower like ATL or DFW. So where did I end up? Fort Worth ARTCC. A bit of a let down initially, but now I'm convinced it was a blessing. Level 12 pay, relatively low cost of living, and good southern cooking. I love what I do, the only drawback being I don't get to look out the window while I work. Don't limit yourself to only wanting a tower job. Be prepared to expand your horizons.

I will also echo P3Orion's suggestion of starting at a smaller facility and working your way up. The choice of facilities will ultimately be out of your hands, but don't be disappointed if you don't land at the top of the heap right away. If you wash out of a busy facility, either your career is over or you may be reassigned to a smaller one. It is an excellent idea to gain some experience at a smaller facility and work your way to the top. Do what's best for your career and not your ego. You do not want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an education only to wash out and be looking for a new line of work before your 25th birthday. I knew a few ERAU grads that washed out at the Academy and they had massive student loans that still had to be paid off. Pace yourself and consider what's best in the long term.

That said, go for it and keep an open mind. Other that actually being in the cockpit, I can't think of anything I would rarther be doing with my life.

PC



In-trail spacing is a team effort.
User currently offlineatct From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 2313 posts, RR: 38
Reply 13, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 4527 times:

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 1):
Don't be fooled by ATL, a monkey can work parallels.

But I get paid more than those ORD/JFK people  


I went to CCBC in Pittsburgh. 2 year degree, hired by the FAA, sent to a 12 tower. Hoping to get my orders for a 9 TRACON this week (fingers crossed).


ATCT
(we may not have the planes of ORD and ATL....but I make more money   )

[Edited 2011-05-17 20:32:08]

[Edited 2011-05-17 20:32:25]


"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney
User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 14, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 4430 times:

Quoting atct (Reply 13):
But I get paid more than those ORD/JFK people



Nicely done ATCT, but I like how you knew the comment was directed at your type of facility!!!   



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlineatct From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 2313 posts, RR: 38
Reply 15, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 3983 times:

Change to my post above. 3 Weeks left at my tower, then transferring to a Level 9 TRACON in the great white northland! Get to go be a radar man for a few years.

ATCT



"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney
User currently offlinegoblin211 From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 1209 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 3470 times:

Quoting PapaChuck (Reply 12):

My mom doesn't want me going to a community college. If it is one, that's the impression i received when i searched it. also, I live in Fl so it would be a pain to get back and forth stuff to/from the school and making it home for breaks. ERAU is more realistic but I have the utmost respect for Beaver! I understand where you're coming from as far as starting at smallwer airports first but can't i just level down if it doesn't work out at Level 12? If I can get ORD Ground or Tower I'm going for it and if i wash up I could just go down to a smaller airport right? Thanks for your advice.



From the airport with love
User currently offlineSPREE34 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 2248 posts, RR: 9
Reply 17, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 3442 times:

Quoting goblin211 (Reply 16):
My mom doesn't want me going to a community college.

CTI programs are not offered far and wide. Make her aware of the realistic options.

Quoting goblin211 (Reply 16):
but can't i just level down if it doesn't work out at Level 12?

Keep in mind, the agency can also "level" you "down" to the sidewalk in front of the facility. There are no guarantees. Starting at the top end is not the normal in any career. There are facilities much smaller than ORD and ATL that people can't hack it at. I saw a New York TRACON guy come to the Center option, and fall flat on his face.
Every facility is different.
Remember where you are right now, and who you are right now, and you'll have a better shot at getting where you want to be, and possibly as an ATC.

Quoting goblin211 (Reply 16):
If I can get ORD Ground or Tower I'm going for it and if i wash up I could just go down to a smaller airport right?

Like I said above, and it applies at any facility, if you wash out, the agency owes you NOTHING. What's your second career choice?



I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
User currently offlinePapaChuck From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 136 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 3431 times:

The Beaver program is associated with a community college, and I certainly understand your mother's concerns about getting a good education. However, let me explain the irony of my education and choice of career paths. I have my Bachelor's Degree from a four year university (took me five and a half, but again I digress). About half way through, I decided to take a serious look at ATC, but decided to finish the program I was in. After graduation I did my homework, decided on Beaver, applied, and took it from there.

Here's the irony: I don't use my four year degree at all. Sure, I'm glad I have it in case I need it to fall back on it some day, but my ATC career started at a little community college north of Pittsburgh. Do your homework, and find a school that is going to set you up for success. Riddle and Beaver are two excellent programs, and there are other excellent schools as well, but don't let a community college deter you. I'm convinced that Beaver was the best choice for me personally, and I do not regret it even if it was a bit of a downgrade after getting a "real" degree.

PC



In-trail spacing is a team effort.
User currently offlineapodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 4287 posts, RR: 6
Reply 19, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 3427 times:

I have a friend who works in NY Center. He started as a controller in Fort Worth center, had some difficulty and transferred to a flight data position at Chicago Center. Eventually he transferred to Quality Control there, and recently he transferred to NY Center. Not the most glamorous job, but you can stay in the industry even if controlling doesn't work out.

User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 20, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 3414 times:

Quoting SPREE34 (Reply 17):
There are facilities much smaller than ORD and ATL that people can't hack it



The joint I started was a Level 3 TRACAB (back in the day of a facility grade rated as a level), not even a busy place and we had a few people that washed out. There is no guarantee for becoming a CPC.

Quoting SPREE34 (Reply 17):
Starting at the top end is not the normal in any career.



And the Captain flying the airplane the brand new ATC person is attempting to sequence didn't start in the left seat of a B744 either in their first month on the job. Pay your dues, you'll have a much more rewarding long career.

Quoting SPREE34 (Reply 17):
There are facilities much smaller than ORD and ATL that people can't hack it



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlineFX1816 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 1400 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks ago) and read 3309 times:

I work at a Level 8 TRACON and I'm glad that it is my first facility. I still talk to quite a few people who went to level 11 and level 12 facilities and it is much tougher. I eventually want to make it to LAS ATCT or TRACON at some point though!

FX1816


User currently offlineSPREE34 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 2248 posts, RR: 9
Reply 22, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3190 times:

Quoting apodino (Reply 19):
He started as a controller in Fort Worth center, had some difficulty and transferred to a flight data position at Chicago Center.

Was this guy from Embry? Left Ft.Worth around 2007?



I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
User currently offlineNorthwest727 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 491 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3060 times:

Quoting PHLapproach (Reply 8):
Quoting mmedford (Reply 5):
N90 has a 90% failure rate from what I hear and at JFK; the numbers are similar.

N90 has that high failure rate because a lot of the CPCs don't give the Developmentals the time of day. That's where that number came from.

Having done a tour of N90 recently, I was told that the failure rate was closer to 95%. I guess lots of of potential ATC'ers fail the initial entry. Those that survive will fail out of out of Oklahoma City. And of those that survive Oklahoma City will most likely fail at N90. Extreme washout rate...that's just incredible.


User currently offlineSPREE34 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 2248 posts, RR: 9
Reply 24, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 3023 times:

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 23):
will most likely fail at N90. Extreme washout rate...that's just incredible.

It's lunacy for a new hire to be sent to places like that. It guarantees a high washout rate, in a career with an already high washout rate.

N90, ATL, ORD, DFW and alike call for experience built at lower density facilities.



I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
25 LONGisland89 : Hi Goblin! I just graduated from the CTI program at ERAU. Tuition is rather high, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The professors here (specifical
26 readytotaxi : Hi, from this side of the pond Could someone pls post up a board what the levels are, and responsibilities? What can you do/not do at such a level. An
27 FX1816 : I guess I'm confused, what can I do/ not do??? Level 12 is the highest for an ATC facility and I'm sure there are quite a few things used to place a
28 goblin211 : Since we covered everything but the salary, what is it for an ATC in a tower vs that of a TRACON? I was told starting out it was 100k and up to 250k.
29 P3Orion : Let me start by saying this: do not decide your career path based on solely on pay. You will be miserable. Choose something that you have enthusiasm f
30 Post contains links SPREE34 : Not even close. here's a place to look. www.stuckmic.com/faa-union-issues/7026-2010-2012-pay-scales.html
31 Tower : While I admire your confidence in yourself, as many controllers have said in this thread, it would be of great benefit to yourself to start at a lowe
32 SPREE34 : goblin211, listen to this guy. He is speaking from current experience.
33 jetblueguy22 : Look at the University of North Dakota. I am attending it next year for Commercial aviation and Air Traffic control. Excellent program. Sure it gets
34 Post contains links ATCGOD : I'm amazed that most folks on here are CTI's or looking into becoming CTI students. Wouldn't you like to get paid to learn atc AND get preference over
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