UPDATE June 11 #2

I will update the top of this post with a direct link to the application once it goes live on June 24.

In the meantime, you can go ahead and make an account on USA Jobs and create your resume. The FAA highly encourages applicants to use the resume builder on the site rather than upload your own.

UPDATE June 11

I’m beginning to work through my DMs in the order I got them. I will get to all of you eventually.

I’m getting a lot of questions about resumes and how to stand out. So the FAA only uses the resumes to verify eligibility. Don’t stress about it. There isn’t a human being parsing through resumes looking for higher quality candidates. The biggest determining factor on if you get a job offer or not will be your AT-SA score. So focus on that.

Also, the FAA highly recommends using the resume builder on usajobs.gov.


I know I’ve got a ton of you who sent me DMs hours ago and are still waiting for a response. I absolutely will get to each and every one of you as soon as I can.


You will apply HERE. Search for job series 2152 and look for “Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee”.


AT-SA information

Academy information

Medical information

UPDATE: To everyone sending me DMs, I WILL respond to all of you. I’m working through the comments first, and responding to DMs as I can in the order I got them. Hang tight!


I’ve been doing AMA’s for these “off the street” hiring announcements since 2018. Since they always gain a lot of interest, I’m back for another one. I’ve heard back from hundreds of people over the past few years who saw my posts, applied, and are now air traffic controllers. Hopefully this post can reach someone else who might be looking for a really cool job.

Check out my previous AMAs for tons of info:





The application window will open from June 24 - June 27 for all eligible U.S. citizens. Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen

  • Must be registered for Selective Service, if applicable (Required for males born after 12/31/1959) 

  • Must be age 30 or under on the closing date of the application period (with limited exceptions)

  • Must have either three years of general work experience or four years of education leading to a bachelor’s degree, or a combination of both

  • Must speak English clearly enough to be understood over communications equipment


I highly recommend checking out the FAA’s info on their site HERE. It includes instructions on how to apply.

Let’s start with the difficult stuff:

The hiring process is incredibly arduous. After applying, you will have to wait for the FAA to process all applications, determine eligibility, and then reach out to you to schedule the AT-SA. This is basically an air traffic aptitude test. The testing window usually lasts weeks-months for everyone to get tested. Your score will place you into one of several “bands”, the top of which being “Best Qualified.” In previous bids, essentially only those in the Best Qualified band get an offer letter.

If you receive and accept an offer letter (called a Tentative Offer Letter, or TOL) you will then have to pass medical, background, and psychological evaluations. If you do, you will receive a final offer letter (FOL) and be scheduled to attend the FAA Academy in OKC (paid).

Depending on which track you are assigned (Terminal or En Route), you will be at the academy for 3-4 months. You will have to pass your evaluations at the end in order to continue on to your facility. There is a 99% chance you will have to relocate. Your class will get a list of available facilities to choose from based solely on national staffing needs. If you fail your evaluations, your position will be terminated. Once at your facility, on the job training typically lasts anywhere from 1-3 years. You will receive raises as you progress through training.

All that being said:

This is an incredibly rewarding career. The median pay for air traffic controllers in 2021 was $138,556. We receive extremely competitive benefits and leave, and won’t work a day past 56 (mandatory retirement, with a pension). We also get 3 months of paid parental leave. Most controllers would tell you they can’t imagine doing anything else. Speaking for myself, when I’m not on position working traffic I’m either playing Xbox, spikeball, volleyball, resting, etc. Enjoying yourself at work is actively encouraged, as taking down time in between working traffic is paramount for safety. Some controllers will read this and scoff, and rightfully so as not all facilities are well-staffed and working conditions can vary greatly. But overall, it’s hard to find a controller who wouldn’t tell you this is the best job in the world.

Please ask away in the comments and/or my DMs. I always respond to everyone eventually. Good luck!

Comments: 3365 • Responses: 74  • Date: 

FlightOfTheShortGuy5325 karma

Anyone on the fence about this career and want to hear from someone who saw OPs post back in 2019 and is now a controller? Well that’s who I am. I had a degree in something completely unrelated and it was looking like I wasn’t gonna land a career in that field. Then I see OPs post, applied and made it through all pre-employment screenings and testing, and then made it through the academy training and now I’m an ATC at an airport.

I love this job. The actual work is great, the work environment with coworkers is fun, and I get a lot of breaks. With how many breaks you get, you end up getting paid 6 figures for really only 25ish hours of work. The other 15 (in a 40 hour work week) are on break. Just this past work week alone I watched 2 different movies on my breaks and a Bunch of TV shows. But also note that every facility is different depending on staffing.

The retirement is great and I have realized that I will likely retire a solid 10+ years before my friends.

I would say most my coworkers are not stressed at all in their day to day lives and have a lot of other endeavors in their time away from work.

If you’re on the fence please apply! You literally have nothing to lose.

SierraBravo261050 karma

Thanks bro! So happy for you man

Ebenezar_McCoy2569 karma

My neighbor is an ATC and his big complaint is that you get the shit shifts for 10 years before you have enough seniority to pull weekday shifts.

Does this square with your experience?

SierraBravo261772 karma


Baxterftw1684 karma

Hence why you are trying to recruit more noobies right? ; )

SierraBravo261884 karma

Haha you caught me

immolated_908 karma

How often does this happen?


SierraBravo26526 karma

Lol not often but it’s always good for a chuckle

whatsthehappenstance633 karma

For the people in this thread interested in this career, isn't is EXTREMELY stressful? That's just what I've read.

SierraBravo26636 karma

There can be period of high stress, but it’s not constant. I think most controllers would say the most stressful part of our job is the schedule.

BlueberryNapalm240 karma

What is a typical schedule?

SierraBravo26642 karma

My schedule at my 24 hour facility is:

Friday 1430-2230

Saturday 1300-2100

Sunday 0700-1500

Monday 0600-1400 and then back at 2215-0615 for the mid

Tuesday off after 0615

Wednesday OFF

Thursday OFF

MrCar1os1067 karma

That's a sleep cycle destroying schedule if I've ever seen one.

SierraBravo26443 karma

Yeah it’s not great. Not all facilities have that same schedule, but it is very common.

Pyrokills607 karma

Honestly that seems pretty irresponsible. Shouldn't ATC's be well rested and peak mental performance? Seems like a good sleep cycle would be essential for that.

SierraBravo26370 karma

You would think!


I love how this comment relays the frustration that exists in your workplace (as well as any workplace), I don't know how many times I've said, "with our mission, you would think...!"

So my question is - what is management like? What is discipline like? What are some interpersonal issues you've witnessed and where do they usually stem from?

What are the promotion opportunities?

Thanks! :)

SierraBravo2678 karma

Management varies from facility to facility. I can only speak for my own experience, but we have a fantastic union/management relationship at our facility. Very collaborative.

APartyInMyPants168 karma

Wait so you work from 6am-2pm on Monday, and then you have to go back at 10:15pm Monday night and work until 6:15 the next morning?

Factoring commuting time, that’s not even an 8-hour turnaround. That doesn’t seem safe. Do you at least get OT for those short turnarounds?

SierraBravo26122 karma

Correct. No OT for that. We just get recuperative breaks on the mid to sleep. They usually are about 2.5 hours or so.

dating_derp51 karma

If this is common, what's the reason for this kind of schedule?

SierraBravo2681 karma

I couldn’t tell you. Everybody knows it’s unhealthy.

SpacklePaste44 karma

Your facility negotiates shift lines and start times locally. If you are working 2-2-1s then you (the union) decided that you wanted them. Management would almost certainly allow for straight mids or rotating schedules to avoid it (they usually just care that they have coverage for the shift demand). Usually stays this way because people don’t want to work straight mids so you switch off who is going to have to work them. 2-2-1 also maximizes the “weekend”.

SierraBravo2647 karma

Yeah, but good luck trying to change a facility away from a 2-2-1 that’s been that way for years. Much easier said than done.

S33N03ViL414 karma

Am 30 this year and turning 31 in December. Can I still apply? Am interested.

SierraBravo26203 karma


thaddeus423126 karma

I’m 32, and have always had an interest in Air Traffic Control. Have dreamed of being a pilot my whole life.

Should I bother applying? What kind of exceptions could I expect?

Edit: Ah, I see you have already answered this. Bummer.

SierraBravo26205 karma

32 is past the age cutoff unfortunately

rosjone85 karma

Why is 30 the cut off age?

SierraBravo26197 karma

Mandatory retirement at 56.

Edited because I’m a silly goose.

aydie10 karma

56 you mean?

SierraBravo2611 karma

Yes, thanks lol

S33N03ViL54 karma

Awesome! Thank you. I will apply after I get off work today.

SierraBravo2681 karma

The bid doesn’t go live until June 24

HanYJ343 karma

You said 99% will relocate. Where did you relocate to?

I live in OKC near the airport with prior military experience in signals intelligence so this is an alluring deal for sure.

SierraBravo26300 karma

Well I’m from Florida and ended up in the Midwest

glowcloudly192 karma

What does the medical evaluation entail? Also, if there was a specific place you wanted to relocate to, how would you go about doing that? Is it possible?

SierraBravo26157 karma

Medical Requirements

Once you are certified, there is a process for transferring called NCEPT. There are typically 4 NCEPT panels per year (quarterly). The ability to transfer depends on the staffing of your facility and the one you want to go to compared to national staffing numbers. It can get tricky.

HanYJ171 karma

One more question for you OP! Thank you by the way.

What is your experience with paid time off? Is it at all a similar experience to the military with 30 days earned per year and an encouragement to take some sort of time off each year? Does it vary station to station?

SierraBravo26203 karma

We earn 4 hours of leave every 2 weeks. After 3 years it goes up to 6 hours, and after 15 years it goes up to 8.

We also earn 4 hours of paid sick leave every 2 weeks.

HanYJ31 karma

Thanks again!

futureGAcandidate44 karma

Just to add on to what SierraBtavo said. There's no limit to sick leave. You carry it over year after a year.

SierraBravo2662 karma

And sell it back for 40% if it’s value when you retire

iLikeMushrooms2165 karma

What’s the daily life like and what made you choose this career?

Another which I’m sure a lot of people are wondering is, can you smoke cannabis even if you have a medical card? I’m going to go ahead and say no due to the nature of the position.

SierraBravo26298 karma

Can’t use weed.

The daily life at my well-staffed facility is awesome. Show up, work an hour, take an hour break. Spend it gaming, playing some sport outside with coworkers, sleeping, eating, etc. Back to work an hour. Back on break an hour. Rinse/repeat for 8 hours.

dukeorbust158 karma

Why do you always keep me so fast on the arrival?

SierraBravo26212 karma

If you’re not first, you’re last

skatincrazyj118 karma

Do they still not accept people who previously failed the academy? I missed out on the 18 class by 2 points by accidentally swapping two planes in my 3rd exam, one happened to be a nordo so it fucked everything else. but am pretty sure they don’t do re-hires? Still the case?

SierraBravo2686 karma

I honestly don’t know. I would say it doesn’t hurt to reapply.

Well-liked-assman100 karma

Do you get paid while you’re in training? Do they cover the cost to get there? Like if you had to fly in or relocate? Is it like a dorm situation?

SierraBravo26124 karma

You don’t get reimbursed for relocating expenses, but yes you get paid while in training

Well-liked-assman45 karma

What’s the living situation like? Just find a place that’ll keep you for a few months? Or do they offer a place to stay (at a price) like on campus or whatnot?

SierraBravo2671 karma

thunderstriken92 karma

Do you know if there is exceptions for vision test? My dominate eye has a scarred retina from a laser, basically just a small sunspot if I close my other eye. It didn’t prevent me from being a USMC sniper, really just a technical thing for me.

SierraBravo26108 karma

You’ll probably be fine, you badass you

heyheyhey2787 karma

There are video games that involve working together in an extremely chaotic environment to accomplish some goal. A great example of this is Overcooked. Have you played it, or would you be sick of those kinds of games after ATC work?

SierraBravo2662 karma

I haven’t, but most of us love video games

hakuna_matitties77 karma

How has the job changed as technology has progressed? Do you think AI will eventually be put to use or will it always be human controlled?

SierraBravo26107 karma

I can’t see a way to automate this job within our lifetimes

hakuna_matitties39 karma

What about just streamlining the process? People would still be making the decisions, but instead of constantly talking over a radio, you could just press a button that relays an automated text message to the cockpit. And have radio communication as a backup.

SierraBravo2673 karma

That is actually in development and is being tested in a few facilities. Called CPDLC.

Edit: It is in early stages for domestic en route facilities. Has been around a while for oceanic, and isn’t practical for terminal environments outside of standard clearances.

qudop64 karma

How much is the pension?

SierraBravo2687 karma

1.7% for every year you work up to 20 years, and then 1% added for every year you work past 20.

The percentage is based off your highest 3 year average income.

Vaggeto29 karma

So around 1/3rd of your previous pay at 20 years?

SierraBravo2651 karma

Yeah, for life. Then of course we have a 401k package as well

Stormingbret59 karma

What are the holidays like? Do you work holidays? Is Christmas time the most stressful time of the year?

SierraBravo26132 karma

We are guaranteed holiday pay for every federal holiday. If you work the holiday, you get double pay that day. If the holiday falls on your first off day, then your first day back is double pay. If it’s on your last day off, the last day you worked before the holiday is double pay.

So it’s nice when a holiday falls on your off day because you get to spend the day with your family and still get the double pay.

Kanbalu57 karma

Is there any study/test prep material available for the AT-SA?

SierraBravo2674 karma

There are. You can Google them. I don’t want to link to any as I can’t vouch for them. Head over to the point sixty five site HERE for some good info!

cowboyjon1356 karma


SierraBravo2655 karma


beefstewforyou56 karma

I’ve heard the job is extremely stressful. Is that true?

SierraBravo2660 karma

Only at times. Very few times.

A-Randomfatdude52 karma

I am 30. Do I have a slim chance of getting in because of my age?

Is the age limit in place to not allow people who are older to apply?

SierraBravo2670 karma

Yes you can apply. This will be your one and only shot.

A-Randomfatdude32 karma

Wish me luck then

SierraBravo2629 karma

Good luck!

Songgeek47 karma

Would they ever hire above 30? Like 36?

SierraBravo2659 karma

Unfortunately not at 36

averageordinaryguy45 karma

Hey! I saw your post last year and applied because of you. Still going through the process and waiting to hear about my medical evaluation. I'm almost coming up on a year from when I applied. How long was it for you from the time you applied to the time you went to OKC for training?

SierraBravo2633 karma

Nice!! My wait time was like 8 months or something like that.

bippityboppitybamf43 karma

Any one else on this thread have career suggestions that are similar but accept the elderly (like 32 year olds?)

SierraBravo2621 karma

Lol! You could look into flight service or airline dispatch.

GeneralWeebeloZapp42 karma

Are you allowed to drink alcohol on your off days? I’ve heard things like taking a Benadryl, sleeping medication, and things like that can make you ineligible to work for a few days. Is that correct?

SierraBravo2694 karma

And yes, you can and will drink on your off days

SierraBravo2636 karma


GeneralWeebeloZapp16 karma

What is the period that you’re ineligible to work? Like if you have a beer the night before your day off would you still not be able to work in 2 days?

SierraBravo2637 karma

8 hours is the cutoff I believe, and you obviously can’t have any alcohol in your blood by the start of your shift.

burningsuperior35 karma

Do you love your job?

SierraBravo2661 karma

Couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Work never feels like work.

Cr1ms0nBl4d334 karma

Is there an age they'll force you to retire?

SierraBravo2648 karma

Yes, 56

GonnaNeedABiggerButt31 karma

what did you do before ATC and how does it compare?

SierraBravo2667 karma

I went to a collegiate CTI program when I was 24, back when that was a requirement to apply. So I knew pretty early on that this is what I wanted to do. After I graduated, I worked as a police dispatcher, among other things, while I waited for the FAA. That job was infinitely more stressful.

NorCalAthlete29 karma

How accurate was that Cracked listicle about ATCs?

SierraBravo2640 karma

I mean it was written by a controller, but it’s pretty sensationalized.

jaderust25 karma

Just curious because I'm too old to qualify, but how many women are in the field? Or is it still pretty male dominated?

SierraBravo2619 karma

I don’t know the numbers, but it’s definitely male dominated

oneseventwo21 karma

Damn am I too late for this? I just turned 31 and have been looking into a new field of work.

SierraBravo2628 karma

Unfortunately it sounds like it

oneseventwo13 karma

Damn. Thanks for the info though and helping out!

SierraBravo2610 karma


ScrollFoDayz21 karma

What if I just turned 30 in the last half a year?

SierraBravo2620 karma

Then you can apply! This will be your last chance.

Undeadmasses18 karma

Is it really age 30 and under? I wanna apply.

SierraBravo2612 karma


ToothpasteGoatee16 karma

If I’m going to be 32 in 6 months, would I even get a chance to test? I have a bachelor of computer science and lots of work experience. Just wondering how hard that age requirement is

SierraBravo2618 karma

Unfortunately not

bazooka_matt15 karma

What's it like to have smoking rooms in federal buildings and get away with absolute murder?

The shit I saw controllers get away with by complaining blew my mind apart when I worked with RADAR.

edit: I push ATC as a job to anyone who wants a good career and great pay. My grand dad was ATC. He loved it.

SierraBravo2612 karma

We thankfully got rid of our smoke room….. recently

ThisToastIsTasty14 karma

If it is such a job with minimal requirements with great pay, how come more people aren't ATC's?

Is there a current lack of air traffic controllers?

is the job market saturated?

SierraBravo2614 karma

There are around 14,000 air traffic controllers. It’s a fairly niche field.

Archangel139813 karma

Isn't this one of the most stressful jobs out there ?

SierraBravo2612 karma

People say that, but that hasn’t been my experience

meskarune11 karma

My grandfather was in the airforce and then worked for the FAA as an air traffic controller. He refused to step foot on a plane because I guess he knew too much. Do you fly frequently or avoid planes like my grandpa ?

SierraBravo2614 karma

I do fly, and I’m not worried about it at all.

Jyxxer11 karma

Why is the age limit 30?

SierraBravo269 karma

Mandatory retirement at 56

NYankee192711 karma

There must be some kind of referral bonus :)?

SierraBravo2615 karma

Dude I wish

Levicorpyutani10 karma

You train us correct?

SierraBravo2612 karma

You’ll get all the training you need at the academy and your facility.

DownVoteYouAll10 karma

I turn 31 on the 26th of this month - am I too old to apply?

SierraBravo2615 karma

You’re literally going to age out by one day. Brutal, man. If I were you I would say screw it and apply anyway. Worst that can happen is you’ll be disqualified.

Mauzersmash08159 karma

As a plane spotter: how nervous do you get when people hang around near the fence (if its possible your airport). Are we annoying? Or just part of the every day job?

SierraBravo2633 karma

Don’t even know you’re there

HonoraryCanadian9 karma

Will full CPDLC deployment make the enroute job substantially easier, or does it just add work? I don't know how much is automated (handoffs?) vs you having to type out what could have been spoken instead.

SierraBravo2611 karma

I’m not at a center but from my understanding it makes things a lot easier. Frequency congestion is a big deal when you’re busy.