The bid is up. APPLY HERE.


IAmAn Air Traffic Controller. Tomorrow the FAA will be posting an Off The Street hiring bid for ATC. This is a 6 figure job that does not require a degree. AMA.

This will be my third time hosting an AMA around a public hiring bid. My previous two posts can be found HERE and HERE. I HIGHLY recommend checking those out as they have an incredible amount of information in them.

The FAA will be posting another “off the street” hiring bid TOMORROW.

There are people working as Air Traffic Control Trainees both at the academy and out in the field today because they saw one of my previous posts, went through the hiring process, and made it.

Below you will find the most pertinent information from the main body of my most recent AMA.


You will apply for the position HERE once the bid is posted. It will be titled “Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee”. It is highly recommended that you use the Resume Builder on USA Jobs rather than uploading your own.

Requirements to Apply:

  • Be a United States Citizen

  • Be age 30 or under

  • Pass a Medical Examination

  • Pass a security investigation

  • Speak English

  • Have 3 years of full time work experience, a bachelor’s degree, or a combination of the two

  • Be willing to relocate


Things you should understand:

  • This is a long and seemingly arbitrary process. There are people who saw my post last year, applied, and never got beyond the application process. Others got to the next step to take the AT-SA (an entrance exam of sorts) and never got a response from the FAA after that. Others passed the AT-SA and received a tentative offer letter (TOL) but are still going through the different clearances as we speak a year later.

  • You will 99.9% have to relocate. The FAA does not care where you want to live. You will have limited options upon passing the academy that will be presented to you solely based on national staffing needs. There are a lot of facilities hurting for bodies and most of them aren’t in Florida or where your family lives. There are opportunities to transfer once you get in, but it can take time.

  • If you make it through the grueling hiring process and get to the academy, you can still not make it. If you fail your evals at the end of the academy, you will be terminated. If you pass the academy and get to a facility, you can still not make it through on the job training and may be terminated. Nothing is guaranteed until you are a fully certified controller, which takes anywhere from 1-3 years.

All that being said, this is the best job in the world if you can make it. You’ll make anywhere from $70-180k, with some exceptions making over $220k (those guys/girls are busting their asses working mandatory 6 day work weeks at severely understaffed facilities with insane traffic, so take that for what it’s worth). You earn competitive vacation time off, as well as 13 paid sick days per year. At a healthy facility, you’ll work 8 hour days with anywhere from 2-4 hours of break time. You will earn a pension that will pay you anywhere from 34-49% of your highest average 3 year pay for the rest of your life. We have mandatory retirement at age 56, but if you have 20 years in you can retire at age 50.

If anybody has any interest whatsoever in this, please don’t hesitate to comment and/or PM me. I will respond to everyone eventually.

Comments: 212 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

DontLetDaPlanesTouch22 karma

Why are Controllers mostly assholes?

SierraBravo2624 karma

I didn’t mean it, bro. Your sequence wasn’t that bad.

SCRuler20 karma

My ex's father is one, I was told there's a high burn-out rate. Is that right?

SierraBravo2616 karma

Washout, not burnout. The academy has about a 50% washout rate. It’s higher for En Route than Terminal. Then each facility has its own training success rate. Some are harder to certify at than others. But if you are a good employee and show promise, you may be able to relocate to an easier facility if you wash out at your first.

chicknsnotavegetabl1 karma

Why is enroute a higher washout?

SierraBravo262 karma

It’s just harder at the academy

CliffFromCheers17 karma

Somewhat unrelated here, does anyone know of other opportunities like this in other fields? Or where to look? I'm unhappy with my career and would like an adventure like this, but I'm already 36. Thanks.

SierraBravo267 karma

There are other opportunities within the FAA, such as tech ops. They work with ATC to keep our equipment, radars, navaids, etc running.

CliffFromCheers10 karma

With this type of off-the-street hiring with no experience? If so I'll look into it.

SierraBravo266 karma


noworries_133 karma


SierraBravo265 karma


jubs5413 karma

Hi thanks for doing this!! I was reading some of the medical examinations expectations and am unsure if I can pass the eye exams. Can these tests be done with glasses on or does one need contacts and or lasik?

SierraBravo2618 karma

Sure thing! The eye examination is based on your corrected vision.

I’m absolutely blind without my contacts.

Troppin4 karma

I can't smell without my wig.

SierraBravo262 karma

Have you tried rotating?

f5nbandit9 karma

Is the Academy a resident program? How long is it?

Are there certain locations that are more likely for first assignments?

Is full retirement 20 or 30 years?

SierraBravo2614 karma

The academy is 3 or 4 months, depending if you are selected for Terminal or En Route. Your facility choices could be literally anywhere in the country, and are determined based off the staffing needs at the time you finish at the academy.

You can retire with full benefits after 20 years of “good time”. Every year you stay beyond that adds 1% to your pension, with a mandatory retirement at age 56 with few exceptions.

f5nbandit7 karma

What is the accrual rate for the first 20 years, 1.7%?

SierraBravo268 karma


slumdog-millionaire5 karma

What is terminal vs en route

SierraBravo268 karma

Terminal is a tower, approach, or tower/approach combo (“up down”). En Route is center (Think high altitude and everything in between terminal airspace)

Mishie_2 karma

So is TRACON the Enroute or the Terminal? Only because I live in STL and I know we have a Tower and a TRACON I didn’t know if they were different or the same.

One of my aircraft dispatchers told me this job opened, another is applying but I’m getting burned out because I’ve hit my highest promotion with this regional. This thread literally is giving me hope that I have found something I can put my skills into.

SierraBravo262 karma

TRACON is Terminal. STL isn’t an up down, meaning their Tower and TRACON are split. You either work at one or the other. Both are above a level , however, so you can’t go there straight out of the academy.

leeleflore8 karma

This is my Dream job and I really want to apply tomorrow but I only have 2 years work experience and some volunteer babysitting work, I’m 18 and just start community college? Is there any point in applying? Or will I just be turned down, I have a family friend who’s a controller and he said just to apply and take a chance because it may not matter but I don’t want to get in trouble

SierraBravo2612 karma

It never hurts to apply, but it sounds like you don’t meet the minimum requirements. Keep an eye out for the next one once you have 3 years of full time work experience! You’re so young that if you stay dedicated, you should eventually get in.

killswithspoon7 karma

I'd love to become an ATC and think I'd excel at it but alas, I'm 31. Why the age cutoff?

SierraBravo267 karma

Mandatory retirement at 56

mdgraller1 karma

That doesn't answer his question. Why must applicants be 30 years old or younger to apply?

SierraBravo2621 karma

It’s a young person’s career. Past a certain age your skills degrade to a point where you can no longer perform the job, and the FAA needs to get its investment out of you. Also you need to be able to accrue enough time for your pension.

That’s the best I’ve got.

spadefish-7 karma

Isn't it illegal to discriminate because of age?

SierraBravo264 karma

Not for this job

spadefish1 karma

Why is that? Like is there a specific exemption out is there something that I'm missing about the age discrimination laws

SierraBravo261 karma

I don’t know. I just know that it’s legal.

z2x27 karma

  1. Would there be any reason to worry about being laid off within the next 20-30 years?

  2. What locations are the most likely a new controller would work at?

  3. How much downtime does an ATC typically get during a shift? I assume you’re not staring at a screen and keeping ears on for 8-12 hours a day.

  4. Is it really all that stressful/demanding? Do you go home feeling burned out most days?

  5. What kind of steps/promotions beyond being an ATC are there and what do you think about those positions? (Management/Union Rep/trainer/FAA/etc)

  6. I imagine there a positions that are on-call to cover sick/vacation days, are they paid a guarantee?

  7. If I want to move after being qualified to an open position at another terminal, how is training for a new location handled/paid?

  8. Do you get any unofficial perks for being an ATC? Cheaper flights/free “deadheads”?

  9. Can you take a leave of absence and maintain certifications? Is it hard to come back after an extended leave (personal/injury)?

SierraBravo264 karma

  1. No

  2. Literally anywhere in the country

  3. We work 8 hour shifts, and can’t work more than 10 hours per day by law. So no 12 hour shifts. On a typical day, we work 1 hour on, 30 minutes off. On a fat-staffed day, 1 hour on, 1 hour off.

  4. No

  5. Once you’re a CPC, that’s it. You get an extra 10% when you’re training somebody. Most CPCs get the training course to become OJTI’s. Supervisors lose differential pay, so they end up making about the same.

  6. If somebody calls in sick and we go below minimum staffing, people get called in for OT in order. Whoever takes it gets 1.5 times pay.

  7. If it’s a higher pay facility, you get half the difference on the go, half when you certify. Lower facility, you save pay if your current pay falls within that band. If you make more, you go to the top of the band of the lower facility.

  8. No. We can do Flight Deck Training twice per year where we ride jumpseat in the cockpit of a participating airline. It can’t be attached to vacation, though.

  9. You have to stay current. If you lose currency because of an extended leave, you have to recertify.

Supermanyup6 karma

How long will the application period be open for?

SierraBravo265 karma

It’s typically open for 2-3 days. My best guess is end of business Monday.

Supermanyup3 karma

Ok, one more for ya. If my application was accepted how long would I have before taking the AT-SA test? Basically how much time would I have to start studying?

SierraBravo263 karma

1-2 months

Gemmabeta4 karma

does not require a degree.

If you were not from the armed forces, what's the actual chances?

SierraBravo263 karma

Same as anyone else

Gemmabeta1 karma

What's the actual numbers tho?

SierraBravo267 karma

I don’t have exact numbers. Veterans get a vet pref bonus, but there are at least 50% I would say who are not prior military.

Gemmabeta3 karma

And how many of them don't have a degree?

SierraBravo269 karma

A degree is 100% not required. The FAA does not care if you have one or not. Having a 4 year degree simply allows you to meet their requirement. HR does not compare resumes. The single determining factor in whether or not you advance is your score on the AT-SA.

Delanorix4 karma

Just apply. Any job that doesn't require a degree will always prefer one, that's the truth.

SierraBravo262 karma

That’s not the case for this job. Your score on the AT-SA is all that matters.

KTOWN8653 karma

This job sounds like exactly what I need but, if I have the 3 years of full time work experience but it is not at all related to the position (I have customer service, waiting tables, warehouse work, etc.) will that poorly effect my chances or are they just looking for the experience in general?

SierraBravo263 karma

No. You do not need any related work experience whatsoever.

KTOWN8653 karma

Thank you so much for replying, I fully intend on applying once I get home; thank you again.

SierraBravo263 karma

Absolutely! Let me know if you have any more questions.

ontopofyourmom2 karma

I'm impatient, bipolar, use recreational drugs, and my vision isn't quite fully able to be corrected. Do you think I should give it a shot?

I also might have trouble passing a background test if thst makes a difference.

SierraBravo269 karma

You’re hired.

ontopofyourmom4 karma

I worked casually as a radar operator for half an hour or so once (I will not try to explain) and it was really hard to pay attention to all of the squiggles on the screen.... that will help too, right?

SierraBravo266 karma

Even better.

binghorse2 karma

I completed the application through the USA Jobs website and was redirected a questionnaire on the FAA website. Is that questionnaire the Biographical Assessment (BA)? And after completing that questionnaire, is my next step just to wait for a reply?

Thank you.

SierraBravo261 karma

The BQ is gone, so that may just be some generic questionnaire thing for statistical purposes or something. I’m not sure.

Gabe_Newells_Penis2 karma

If I put in for the job req, make it pretty far by some miracle, withdraw my application, and then decide I want to apply again after that in the future, would my previous withdrawal impact my last application?

SierraBravo263 karma

Most likely

Trying_to_be_better22 karma

Is the washout rate still 80+%?

SierraBravo263 karma

It’s closer to 50%

Lwashburn662 karma

I have six months full time work experience, four years part time, and was a full time student for two years with an associate's. Do I have a shot?

SierraBravo261 karma

They do say you can have a “combination” of a degree and work experience. I don’t know how they weigh it, but it doesn’t hurt to apply.

AllezAllezAllez20042 karma

It's basically weighted as a percentage of the total nessesary to qualify on either one by itself. So if you have 2 years of education, that's 50%, and 1.5 years of experience, that's 50%, and you qualify. The percents have to add up to 100%.

I worked in the government for a while and learned a lot about their HR system. Stuff like that is standard throughout all agencies.

SierraBravo261 karma

That’s good to know if that’s the case. Thanks!

BuddyTubbs2 karma

Anyway to maximize your chances? I love everything aviation, PilotEdge etc... but it seems they don't care about candidates interests in Aviation, just the status quo. So anything I can do to stand out?

SierraBravo261 karma

Ace the AT-SA. That’s literally the only thing that matters.

BuddyTubbs2 karma

Does everyone get to take it now? Last time I applied for the open bid, I got disqualified by the BQ questionnaire.

SierraBravo262 karma

The BQ is gone

BuddyTubbs1 karma

Yeah, I know. I guess my question is, does everyone get to take the AT-SA now?

SierraBravo262 karma


jubs542 karma

Working on getting my resume up and will probably submit my application tomorrow morning! What are the chances of actually getting in the for the exam? Does everyone get a stab at it as long as they meet the qualifications?

SierraBravo263 karma

Yes. They will close the bid once they have received enough applicants.

jubs542 karma

Wait a minute, I’m assuming you’re on break right now... 😁

SierraBravo263 karma

Nice try, supe

SierraBravo262 karma

Mishie_2 karma

I commented earlier about something but now that it’s closed (sigh, I was told too late) how often does this usually open?

SierraBravo262 karma

Based on recent history, I would expect this June.

eveningsand2 karma

Possibly unrelated but, in general, what do the Short Term Incentives look like for EV banded staff?

SierraBravo263 karma

Sorry, I don’t know what that is.

AlenkaFromWonderland1 karma

What do you do on your work breaks?

SierraBravo261 karma

Rest, video games, ping pong, YouTube, etc

SierraBravo261 karma

I believe 18 if you somehow have 3 years of full time work experience. I know of a 20 year old who got hired under those conditions.

Gerik221 karma

What does a typical work day look like for an atc? What does the work itself actually entail?

SierraBravo263 karma

Most 24 hour facilities run a rotating shift. So my schedule is:

  • Fri 1420-2220
  • Sat 1300-2100
  • Sun 0700-1500
  • Mon 0600-1400, then 2206-0606 for the overnight
  • Tues OFF after 0606
  • Wed OFF
  • Thurs OFF

Typical work day is 1 hour on position, 30 minutes off.

ORDATC4 karma

I can only speak to a terminal facility. Im at O' Hare. Everyone goes up and typically works 4 sessions a day with breaks in between. If you are in training, you can expect to train during at least 2 of those sessions with one of your 3 assigned trainers. If you are fully certified you come upstairs and are assigned a position by the supervisor (usually youre releaving the person who has been on position the longest). Depending on many factors but typically staffing, you can expect to work that position from an hour to an hour and a half then given a 30-45 minute break. afterwords you come up and do it all again, most likely at a different position than what you worked last. Until your 8 hour shift is up. Then you go to the bar.

SierraBravo263 karma

Psh. With all the ground stops y’all have, you really only work every other day ;)

Gerik223 karma

Thanks for the reply, but I wasn't asking about the schedule so much as the details of what you're actually doing on the job. Like are you just staring at a radar and relaying info to pilots? Are there are other duties associated with it? That sort of thing.

Though now that you mention the schedule, is it typical for the schedule to be that sporadic? I'd think it would more sense for everyone to have the same hours every day they work.

SierraBravo263 karma

If I’m in the tower, I’m issuing clearances to pilots, taxiing aircraft to and from the active runway, and clearing aircraft to takeoff and land, among some other minor duties.

If I’m in the TRACON working radar, the most of the time I’m vectoring aircraft for approach to airports, climbing departing aircraft out of my airspace, and talking to overflights, again among other lesser duties.

The main aspect of the job is moving aircraft without letting them touch.

SierraBravo261 karma

And yes that’s a typical schedule for 24 hour facilities, which most are.

scottishbee1 karma

Thoughts on privatizing ATC in the US? It seems like the Canadian model really opened them up to investing in better technology and management, without the whiplash of federal budget issues.

I had a relative work with the FAA (liaison from military) and found the union impossible to deal with. Curious what it's like from the other side of those stories.

SierraBravo265 karma

I can’t speak for the union as a whole. I can say that from my perspective, the biggest concern with privatization is the unknown. We have it pretty good right now as far as pay and retirement.

CallMeSnuffaluffagus1 karma

I turn 31 on Wednesday, is this "bid" going to close by then?

Also, I have a B.S. in biology but no education/work experience related to being an ATC... worth taking a shot? Thanks!

SierraBravo261 karma

It should be closed by then, so you’ll just make it!

And no aviation experience is necessary at all.

idontgotgoodname1 karma

Since you have that profession, have you ever gotten to do anything for the USAF?

Edit: typo

SierraBravo261 karma

Do you mean was I ever in the Air Force? If so, then no.

Norgeroff1 karma

What color is your toothbrush?

SierraBravo262 karma

Blue and white

Norgeroff2 karma

Cool, thanks

SierraBravo262 karma