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Pay

Frequently asked questions about pay

General info

Basic pay
The basic amount determined by facility level (4-12) and career level (AG, D1, D2, D3, CPC).
Locality pay
Percentage adjustment for a geographic area, set by DOD and OPM.
Base pay
(Basic) x (Locality). Used as the base number for retirement, premium pays, and some deductions. Also used to calculate your hourly rate.
COLA
Cost of living adjustment. In the process of being phased out. Only AK, HI, and the territories receive it. Exempt from tax, not included in retirement calculations.
CIP
Controller incentive pay, given to certain "hard-to-staff" facilities. Maximum of 10%. Not included in retirement calculations.
Premium pays
Only received when actually worked. Percentages are cumulative, multiplied by base pay.
  • Holiday: 100%
  • Overtime: 50%
  • Sunday: 25%
  • Night (6pm-6am): 10%
  • Controller-in-charge: 10%
  • On the job training instruction: 10%

This applies to FAA and DoD controllers. For DoD specific information, visit the DoD FAQ page

How much do FAA controllers make?

This is a complex answer. Total pay depends on numerous factors; facility level, career level (developmental, CPC), and location. Facilities levels range from 4-12 (based on complexity and amount of traffic). Each level has its pay range, with each career level having a band within that range. Your base pay cannot go outside of your pay band. View the base pay chart.

There are 5 developmental stages of training (academy, AG, D1, D2, and D3). As you progress through training, you move up to the next stage, until reaching CPC. After reaching CPC, you will always be in the CPC band. You move up in the band through raises. Typically, raises occur in January and June, with the January raise lifting the entire pay band, and the June increasing pay within the band.

To see how much a controller will make at a specific facility, visit the pay chart tab on the facility resource page.

How does pay work with transferring different facility?

It depends how you transfer. On an ERR or bid, you get 50% of the raise when you start at the new facility, and the remaining 50% after certification. For a hardship, pay will stay the same until certification.

When can you retire?

Controllers have a mandatory retirement age (MRA). You must retire at the end of the month that you turn 56 (exceptions: age waivers, or staff positions that don't require ratings). There are two factors for retirement: service time and good time. Service time is the amount of time used to compute your retirement pay, good time is time worked in the FAA as a controller (TMU, FLM also count) for retirement eligibility.

To retire you must:

  • 1) Have at least 20 years good time and be age 50+, or
  • 2) Have at least 25 years good time

Bought back military time is not considered good time.

How is retirement pay calculated?

There are two scenarios to retire under, standard and MRA+30.

Standard

The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) is the retirement annuity program FAA employees fall under. CSRS is the legacy program; unless you are already in it, you are ineligible. Currently, new employees contribution is 4.9% (base pay). For those hired prior to 2013, it will be lower.

Your pension is based off your 3 highest paid years of employment (Base pay). Your first 20 years accrue a multiplier of 1.7% (total of 34%). Each additional year adds 1%. The final percentage is multiplied by base pay. Controllers are eligible for cost of living adjustments (increases) after retirement.

Additionally, there is social security and social security supplemental pay. The supplement begins when you retire, and discontinues at age 62, when you become eligible for social security. The supplement is roughly equivalent of what you're computed social security payment would be.

MRA+30

This is only available to those who reach MRA and have 30 or more years of service.

The differences from standard retirement are as follows:

  • 1.7% for every year (see note below)
  • No social security supplemental pay
  • No cost of living adjustments until age 62

Time worked in supervisor positions is not eligible for the .7% increase past 30 years

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

The TSP is comparable to a 401k. You can contribute based on a fixed dollar amount or percentage (up to the yearly max). The FAA automatically contributes 1% of base pay to your account. 3% of your contribution will be matched 1 : 1, and the next 2% will be matched .5 : 1, for a total of 5% agency match.

You can elect to have your account classified as traditional (tax deferred) or Roth (tax exempt).

There is too much information to cover in a FAQ, and it is important that you understand this benefit. For more details, visit the TSP website.

How does save pay work?

If entering the FAA from another federal position, your basic pay rate will transfer to the FAA, which will then have the applicable locality pay added to make the new base pay. The same applies leaving the FAA; base pay will transfer over to the closest GS step (rounded up) within the grade you are transferring to, then applicable locality/SSR rates will be added.

Updated 04-Sep-2017

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