A few questions

MagioX1

Trusted Contributor
Messages
40
So I applied in the 2018 bid guys and have already taken the ATSA and am currently waiting to see if I get a TOL. I've been talking to a couple of people who know a few controllers and I have been reading online and it seems like most people say its an extremely stressful job, with very irregular hours, no traditional holidays, and very little time to spend with family. While I think I can easily deal with the stress, not being able to see my family on the holidays, and working very irregular hours might be a different story. Don't wont to jump ahead of myself since I don't even know if I have passed the test yet but assuming I get hired and then find out I just can't deal with the holidays or the hours I got a few questions.

1. Are the horror stories about extreme stress, and drinking to forget this stress actually true?
2. Are there other positions within a tower or control facility that a controller can transfer to that has a more traditional schedule?
3. Do the private ATC companies offer workers a more flexible schedule and better hours than the FAA does?
4. Is it easy to get in with the private ATC companies if you don't have much experience?
 

32andBelow

Trusted Contributor
Messages
280
ATC is a 24/7/365 business, no way around that.

The hours are set up to maximize your time off. I get over 80 hours off consecutive on my weekend.

Holidays you are going to have to deal with. You are going to miss them.
 

Robertb

Forum Sage
FAA
Messages
421
Facility
A80 Atlanta Tracon
The schedule absolutely sucks especially if you are at a short staffed facility. For example, this is my exact schedule for this week...
Thu: 1530-2330
Fri: 1300-2100
Sat: 0645-1445
Sun: 0545-1345
Sun (considered a Mon shift): 2215-0615
Tue: 1530-2330 (mandatory non volunteer OT)
Wed: ODO (one day off)

Starts all over again on Thursday. I celebrated Thanksgiving, for the only time in ten years of being an ATCer, in 2017. If it doesn’t fall on your off day or you don’t bid it off (assuming you have enough seniority), you will be at work.

1) People deal with stress in different ways, but you’ll find that controllers drink quite a bit.
2) You could become a Staff Support Specialist, but it will take you years to get to the point of being considered for said position and that’s assuming you can even get said position. Few and far between especially at smaller facilities that may have only one person for this role.
3) Most aren’t 24/7 facilities so it would be a more traditional schedule with a contract job, but that would be facility specific. (Example: FTY is 24 hours, but MCN is like 0900-2100)
4) All ATC companies are probably looking for people with experience as they want the best candidates for their contracts.
 

MagioX1

Trusted Contributor
Messages
40
Thank you guys for the info. Just trying to make sure this job is actually right for me. Kind of disappointing that there aren't any other positions that you can transfer to.
 

32andBelow

Trusted Contributor
Messages
280
Thank you guys for the info. Just trying to make sure this job is actually right for me. Kind of disappointing that there aren't any other positions that you can transfer to.
There are other positions especially at centers but it won’t be until several years after cretitifying.
 

JNev

Trusted Contributor
FAA
Messages
172
Facility
MRY Monterey Tower
My tower is only open 6am-9pm everyday and it’s very far from stressful. If you want Christmas off, find out what day of the week it falls on and bid for that as one of your RDOs. If you don’t care about reaching the pinnacle of your field, there are a ton of level 4,5,6 towers that aren’t 24 hours and you’ll still get a retirement package most would be extremely jealous of. Now if you get Center in the academy you’ll at least be on a “training schedule” for a long time so there’s that. I can’t attest to this, but one of my friends at a Consolidated TRACON told me it’s only stressful if you suck at it
 

NavyTrev

Trusted Contributor
FAA
Messages
26
Facility
PCT Potomac Tracon
The stress doesn’t come just from the job, the stress stems from the odd working hours, bad sleeping habits and not being off on weekends or holidays. All of those combined is what makes the job so stressful. But over time things get better, you just get used to it and so does your family.
Over time you gain seniority and get better days off, eventually weekends after 10+ years depending on your facililty seniority. I’ve been lucky and had thanksgiving off 4 years in a row, and somehow I was able to get Christmas this year even though I was #28 of 35 CPC’s in my area.
Don’t take the job if you’re worried about the schedule, it’s more likely not to work out in your favor.

I lied the actual job work is very very stressful for some people. I’m at a lvl 12 TRACON, when some people see high traffic count numbers coming up or weather moving into their sector, they start fijiting or need a restroom break. If you don’t work well under pressure, this might not be for you.
 
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GMX

Trusted Contributor
Messages
90
The schedule sucks; I'm always tired and the days just blend together. I work at a seasonal kind of place where it can get pretty busy in the summer but then be super dead all winter. We have a mid-shift and work like 1-10 aircraft during that on a given night, so why do we have a mid? It helps with your days off though. Like the other guy said it allows like 80 hours off.
 

MagioX1

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Messages
40
I know I will like the work, and I can deal with stress easily. Its the quality of life part that I don't know about. Not being with family, lack of sleep, etc is whats gonna give me a hard time.

If I can get into a lower level facility like Jnev above mentioned and have much more standard hours Ill be fine. I'd much rather have a lower pay and a better quality of life than to make lots of money and be excessively stressed. In the end if it doesn't work out and I end up quitting, I will not have lost anything. FAA paid for all the training lol
 

ajmezz

Trusted Contributor
Messages
423
RSW, SAV and MYR are all level 8 up/downs in the southeast that close at night. Good money compared to cost of living.
 

DL0509

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Messages
232
I know I will like the work, and I can deal with stress easily. Its the quality of life part that I don't know about. Not being with family, lack of sleep, etc is whats gonna give me a hard time.

If I can get into a lower level facility like Jnev above mentioned and have much more standard hours Ill be fine. I'd much rather have a lower pay and a better quality of life than to make lots of money and be excessively stressed. In the end if it doesn't work out and I end up quitting, I will not have lost anything. FAA paid for all the training lol
Just because you go to a lower level doesn't mean you will have "standard hours". Like others have said if having holidays off and a regular schedule are things you really want then I would caution you about taking the job.
 

Cmsgthokage

Trusted Contributor
Messages
122
Having a weird work schedule isn’t all that bad. You will eventually fall into a rhythm, but you have to work at it. I had to work 2 day shifts>2swings>2 off, meaning my days off would change from tue&wed to wed&thurs and keep changing. I ended up falling into a rhythm and making it work and atleast in the FAA you’d get your set days off making it easier.
 
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