Department of Defense

General Info

All civilian air traffic controllers are governed by the same regulations, regardless of agency. However, there are slight differences between the various agencies for certain things. This section will try to highlight areas where there are differences from the FAA, or between the different branches. For ATC purposes, the DoD consists of the Air Force, Army, and Navy.

How do I apply for a DoD job?

The DoD advertises vacancies on just like the FAA. Unlike the FAA, they do not hire those without previous ATC experience. The qualifications needed to apply for a vacancy vary by individual facility, and sometimes by military branch.

What is the hiring process like?

After applying, qualified applicants applications are sent to the selecting official, who ranks the applicants and submits selections to HR. Typically, there are more names submitted than vacancies, so if one person declines, another will be offered the position. HR will send a temporary offer to the selectee, and upon acceptance will vet the individuals documents, and process any needed clearances. A firm offer will then be made, and a start date agreed upon. The process is typically much faster than the FAA, taking only a few months from announcement to start date.

Having copies of your medical paperwork (flight physical, drug tests, etc) will expedite the process. If you're already in a federal agency and have a security clearance, they will likely be able to access that information, but if you have paperwork for it, that may be helpful also.

How much does a DoD controller make?

DoD controllers fall under the GS pay scale, and are GS-10 - GS-12 positions. The vacancy will specifically state which GS band it is, and any promotion potential there may be. There is no "promotion" to a higher GS scale in a position, unless stated in the announcement. Pay increases happen within the steps (1-10), normally in annual or bi-annual increments.

Besides the pay scale (AT for FAA, GS for DoD), there are some differences in pay between the FAA and DoD.

Special Salary Rate (SSR)
There are two SSR tables, 25% - used for non-radar ATC positions, and 30% for radar positions. The higher of locality or SSR will be added to basic pay to determine base pay. All Army, Air Force, Marine, and as of March 2018, Navy controllers get SSR.
ATC premium pay
There is an optional 5% premium pay for DoD controllers. It is currently authorized.
For air traffic controllers, the hourly overtime rate is 1.5 times the employee's hourly Basic Pay rate.
On the Job Training Pay
5 U.S. Code § 5546a (d)(1) allows for OJTI pay, but it is not currently authorized.

Total pay is computed as: Basic pay + (higher of SSR or locality) + ATC Premium pay.

2020 SSR Pay Tables

The following tables are the annual salaries for the with SSR included. The 5% (of basic pay) ATC premium would be added to this to get the final salary.

2020 ATC 25% SSR Table
Grade Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Step 7 Step 8 Step 9 Step 10
GS 10 63435 65550 67665 69780 71895 74010 76125 78240 80355 82470
GS 11 69695 72019 74343 76666 78990 81314 83638 85961 88285 90609
GS 12 83536 86321 89106 91891 94676 97461 100246 103031 105816 108601
2020 ATC 30% SSR Table
Grade Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Step 7 Step 8 Step 9 Step 10
GS 10 65972 68172 70372 72571 74771 76970 79170 81370 83569 85769
GS 11 72483 74900 77316 79733 82150 84566 86983 89400 91816 94233
GS 12 86878 89774 92671 95567 98463 101360 104256 107153 110049 112945

Is there save pay?

Yes. Please see the Pay FAQ page. In addition, annual and sick leave balances will transfer across agencies. Credit hours will not.

Updated 16-Jan-2021

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