Aviation > Pilot/Controller Forum

ATC as a career

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I've decided its time for a change and I'd like to get some more information about becoming an ATC.  I've gotten to the point that I'm so infatuated with ATC that I can just sit for hours and listen.  I'm a passionate type of person that has to enjoy their work otherwise I become bored and uninterested, which then leads to frustration.  I definitely feel that way about ATC; I know exacly what I want to do and where.  I want, with the utmost amount of determination, to be a local controller at JFK.

The thing I don't seem to understand is why the FAA seems to make it so undesirable to change careers into ATC.  It might be alright for young people right out of school who haven't yet acquired any assets, but I've got a house, a wife, and a family in the next 3-5 years to consider.  I'm young, motivated, hard-working, smart (enough), and feel truly passionate about becoming a controller.  I know how bad the FAA needs controllers but it doesn't seem like they're doing enough to attract them.  I'm not expecting handouts and pro-athlete sign-on bonuses, but making enough to at least cover the cost of bills while I go through training would be great.  Maybe things have changed recently, but I find it a bit frustrating.

I'd like to know a few things:

1.) For those of you who are controllers or can provide insight, what do you recommend to someone in my position?

2.) I've already done the school thing and would really prefer not to have to go back to school to get a degree in air traffic management or whatever it is.  Without a degree or some kind of training, what is the likelihood that I can pass the ATC assessment to get to Oklahoma City?

3.) What exactly is the process that I would have to go through from where I am now to get up to the tower at JFK?

4.) Can I get a tour of a control tower?  If so, what would be the best way to go about arranging that?

5.) What are some good websites or phone numbers where I can get more information?

I'm sure I'll think of more questions, but for now I'd just appreciate any help at all that you can provide.  Feel free to contact me with a PM if necessary.  Many Thanks!

Best Regards,


all links wfs:





I feel you pain Evilcuban I wanted to be a pilot since I can remember, I even had the F14's blanket and pillow cases when little (4 to 11) went to the airforce academy in my country Peru but my family moved to NY so I couldn't continue on, now I'm 28 years old car salesman I make about 100k a year and I have a mortgage car payment and a fiance, but if someone gives me the chance to get on the program and still be able to pay my bills...I would be so in, even if I have to work 20 hour shifts I would be the hapiest pilot or traffic controler, I forgat to mention that with years of practice with sims, extensive research and talking to one of my costumers that happens to be an ATC in Austin, I developed the love for ATC as a carrier.

drFinal, thanks for the reply.  I looked over those websites.  What do you think the actual likelihood of me passing the AT-SAT is if I apply and get an opportunity to take it? I think I'm just a bit confused on CTI school vs. just taking the test.  If the test is so hard that you need a degree to take it, it doesn't seem to make sense that they'd offer it to the public.  On the flip side, if you don't ned a degree to take it why do people go get one?

Are there any courses, study guides, or materials that I could review to help preprare for the test?  Is it possible to pass the test without having all of the CTI training?

Also in regards to working in N90, specifically JFK, what is the likelihood that I'd be able to get into a place like that?  I talked to someone (a pilot based at an N90 airport, so his information wouldn't be totally accurate) who said it was seniority based.  I understand JFK is a challenging and busy airport to work at.

Look at the NATCA site, it doesn't seem like NATCA and the FAA get along too well.  Anything to keep in mind about that?

Many thanks!


not getting along too well would be an understatement, since right now all the controllers are working under imposed work rules and don't have a contract.

As far as taking the AT-SAT and cti schools. The reason so many people are getting a degree and paying all this money for the schooling is beacuse up until Dec 07 i believe, the FAA said the only two ways to get a job were through CTI schooling or through the military.

Now with the non-tract in place and all the old timers retiring, not to mention all the CTI people who are quitting due to extremely low pay; the FAA has opened the doors to try and get more people hired.

So if I was you, I'd go sign up for the AT-SAT and take the test. You don't need any aviation background to pass, let alone get a perfect score on the test.

Once you get your foot in the door, decline as many offers as you want until they send you someplace you like, because you'll most likely be there for a while.


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