Kim's Place OKC

Training Backlogs?

Academy Study Guides

Jsybird2532

Member
Messages
89
One thing not addressed-how easy would it be for you to return to your career after leaving?

Good question.

Career field, easy. However, this particular role at this particular company (which I honestly think is a major diamond in the rough), possible, but not 100%. My current role furthermore has a really good path forward in terms of responsibility, compensation, skill development, etc as long as I put the effort in. It's just that the tech world itself is problematic/tiring with its culture. Ie: the tech bros and the code til you drop even in your free time culture. I'm naturally good at the subject matter, but I'm not enamored with it. I quite frankly don't want to do stuff like build random stuff in the cloud, maintain servers and websites, create a home fiber network, or contribute to open source in my free time like so many of them do. As far as I can tell so far from experience, I'd rather fly, learn more about flight, or even build an airplane.

I will admit I've never played vatsim or anything similar by the way. However, I will say I love doing actual flying in controlled airspace, and I clearly enjoy telling people what to do on the phone after doing so in a lot of precious jobs :).

Yep. Would see if you could take a leave of absence. Go to the academy, see what you get, and if you don't like it just go back to your job.

Unpaid LOA, I don't think so. I think I read somewhere that the FAA requires you to resign previous employment upon taking their offer to go to Basics/OKC? That would preclude a formal leave of absence with my current employer.

3. You've already been on this forum 2 years, why not just delay it until your 32?

Age cutoff is 31.
 

Phillyman2633

Legendary Member
Messages
958
I am an individual in her late 20s living in the northeast who is also a newly minted private pilot. I am currently working a decently paying job in tech doing software/systems work for a reputable private employer. Salary potential for my career is at or even well above a L12 FAA Air Traffic Facility (above only if I basically sell my soul to my work/employer). However, while I can certainly handle it, I'm a bit disheartened with the tech industry/career path so I looked into ATC a few years ago. My compensation in tech has gone up dramatically since I first applied, but I am still in the ATC hiring process with the FAA. I applied in 2019 and again in 2020 and I'm between TOL and FOL right now. It's progressing pretty quick since I accepted my TOL last month. I don't know yet if I'm stuck in the Tier 2 Psych track from my MMPI-2 exam, but I have a hunch I won't be as I came in with decent familiarity with the test (ie: regarding the MMPI, that was not my "first rodeo").

I also have no idea if I will get enroute/terminal, or some other type of offer not otherwise specified (maybe people actually do get TRACON offers or offers with specific facilities in mind and don't talk about it, who knows). I don't know if I'd honestly accept a terminal offer either given the difference in compensation between enroute/center pay off the bat, unless I know there is a very clear path to getting into a higher level terminal facility (ex: a TRACON like PCT or a high-level tower at a busy airport like EWR).

Moving on, reading through this forum, and looking on Reddit, I'm seeing tons of mentions of training backlogs at ARTCCs (centers) in particular (ZNY/ZJX/ZOA/etc). People are talking about 2-3 years on these backlogs, and there's even a new thread here on pointsixtyfive about them doing new training holds due to the delta variant. Quite frankly, that all sounds insane :rolleyes:.

However, I'm no investigator, and thus I do not feel like digging through the cobwebs of this site and/or the rest of the internet (like the bot-infested graveyard known as stuckmic 🤣) to figure this out. I do not know what "backlog" entails for individual academy grads. So, please explain this to me like I'm an idiot, what does this mean for AGs? Are you basically on paid vacation once you leave the academy, or does the FAA have you doing something else during the backlog stage at or away from your facility? What pay band are you at at that time (AG or D1/2/3 pay?)

If it's effectively paid vacation like I'm guessing, can you work another job while waiting (like could I grab some tech contract work), or is it against your employment contract to do so? Also if it's paid vacation like I suspect, why is the FAA churning people through the academy to backlogged facilities? Seems nonsensical if that's the case.

Also some other questions:
1. Is this backlog issue mostly regarding centers, or is it also terminal?
2. What specific facilities have this backlog thing going on in the worst way? Feel free to give personal anecdotes, ie: current actual wait times following placement from OKC, etc.
3. (This one is a bit of a joke), with all of this in mind, and it likely being COVID induced, should I have purposefully tried to fail the MMPI to delay my potential entry into the ATC pipeline?
Tl;dr

If you're making $150k right now, I'd stay out of the FAA. If you're making over $150k and you have weekends off and a semi-flexible vacation schedule, i.e. you can be like "Yo I'm taking 2 weeks off in 2 months," I'd throw your laptop out of a window and never come back to this website, because you dont need all the bullshit and baggage that comes with being an ATC.

If you're making sub-$100k and you don't have any kind of paid vacation deal at work, and you're willing to sacrifice not having weekends off and take a pay cut to $60k or so (after you cert at your first facility), you can probably move up to a bigger facility and be making $150k within a few years. I checked out at my first facility in 6 months, was making $80k, and transferred to another facility and checked out and was making $150k within 5 years of getting hired.

Or, you could get sent to LCH straight out of the Academy and be stuck making $60k in cousin-fucking purgatory with no prospect of getting out ever. It's all a crapshoot and it depends on what you have going on for you and whether you're willing to take that gamble for what could be a pretty good retirement.

Your trainers will try to make you feel like a piece of shit and your front-line managers will have you wanting to jump off the tower catwalk, you'll be chain smoking Black & Milds within 6 months and you'll be disillusioned and bitter within 5 years, but if you're willing to go anywhere and the stars align, you can easily retire at 50 with a near six-figure retirement.
 

Shikaka

Legendary Member
Messages
2,535
Sounds like you're honestly stuck between the compensation of your current job which you loathe and doing something you think you might enjoy while taking a possibly permanent pay cut/working back to your pay.

Flip a coin, then tell us what it says and we'll explain why it was wrong.
 

Noturpilot

Member
Messages
8
I'll jump in on the opposite side of the spectrum, I applied for air traffic because I had a love for aviation and wanted to make good money, I got to my first facility planning on leaving before I got there. I'm probably one of the few who ended up loving where I live and planning on staying. The money is good, work life is good (even on 6 day work weeks). There is nothing worse than a soul crushing job. Just do what you think is better for you, hopefully you end up at a center that doesn't have a 3 year training backlog and then you get to leave work behind once you go home. If you are already making that much money though, terminal may not be the best route because you can get stuck in a low pay band for a very long time. With that being said if you are not absolutely okay with going to wherever the FAA sends you and you want to get back to "home" as soon as possible then this is not the job for you.
 

Super Salt

🍻🍻🍻
Staff member
I ♥ pointSixtyFive
Messages
958
I am an individual in her late 20s living in the northeast who is also a newly minted private pilot. I am currently working a decently paying job in tech doing software/systems work for a reputable private employer. Salary potential for my career is at or even well above a L12 FAA Air Traffic Facility (above only if I basically sell my soul to my work/employer). However, while I can certainly handle it, I'm a bit disheartened with the tech industry/career path so I looked into ATC a few years ago. My compensation in tech has gone up dramatically since I first applied, but I am still in the ATC hiring process with the FAA. I applied in 2019 and again in 2020 and I'm between TOL and FOL right now. It's progressing pretty quick since I accepted my TOL last month. I don't know yet if I'm stuck in the Tier 2 Psych track from my MMPI-2 exam, but I have a hunch I won't be as I came in with decent familiarity with the test (ie: regarding the MMPI, that was not my "first rodeo").

I also have no idea if I will get enroute/terminal, or some other type of offer not otherwise specified (maybe people actually do get TRACON offers or offers with specific facilities in mind and don't talk about it, who knows). I don't know if I'd honestly accept a terminal offer either given the difference in compensation between enroute/center pay off the bat, unless I know there is a very clear path to getting into a higher level terminal facility (ex: a TRACON like PCT or a high-level tower at a busy airport like EWR).

Moving on, reading through this forum, and looking on Reddit, I'm seeing tons of mentions of training backlogs at ARTCCs (centers) in particular (ZNY/ZJX/ZOA/etc). People are talking about 2-3 years on these backlogs, and there's even a new thread here on pointsixtyfive about them doing new training holds due to the delta variant. Quite frankly, that all sounds insane :rolleyes:.

However, I'm no investigator, and thus I do not feel like digging through the cobwebs of this site and/or the rest of the internet (like the bot-infested graveyard known as stuckmic 🤣) to figure this out. I do not know what "backlog" entails for individual academy grads. So, please explain this to me like I'm an idiot, what does this mean for AGs? Are you basically on paid vacation once you leave the academy, or does the FAA have you doing something else during the backlog stage at or away from your facility? What pay band are you at at that time (AG or D1/2/3 pay?)

If it's effectively paid vacation like I'm guessing, can you work another job while waiting (like could I grab some tech contract work), or is it against your employment contract to do so? Also if it's paid vacation like I suspect, why is the FAA churning people through the academy to backlogged facilities? Seems nonsensical if that's the case.

Also some other questions:
1. Is this backlog issue mostly regarding centers, or is it also terminal?
2. What specific facilities have this backlog thing going on in the worst way? Feel free to give personal anecdotes, ie: current actual wait times following placement from OKC, etc.
3. (This one is a bit of a joke), with all of this in mind, and it likely being COVID induced, should I have purposefully tried to fail the MMPI to delay my potential entry into the ATC pipeline?
Don’t do it.
 

CharlieNovember

Member
FAA
Messages
29
Facility
ZMA Miami Center
See what your FOL says, but you’re probably right to not jump ship if you get selected for terminal. It’s a great job but it’s almost always the best job *that any of us could ever get without going back to school*, which clouds a lot of peoples’ judgement. Funny enough I always tell people that it seems like the only other career path that has as good/a better work/life balance is software development judging by my friends who are in that field. Even IF you get an en route FOL and pass OKC at the top of your class, chances are you’ll get sent somewhere you don’t want to live possibly for the rest of your career (especially considering how the NCEPT team is constantly moving the goalposts to make it harder to transfer). Most of these places also have an insanely high cost of living (thanks tech bros) and 150k doesn’t get you very far. You’ll also have very low seniority for a long time because the influx of trainees started around 2013. So the most likely outcome if you get picked up for center is you’ll get sent to a high COL area, be stuck training and making way less money than you’re used to for a few years, then be the last to pick your weeks off and schedule for about a decade. Could you working remote while training? Not a chance in hell. I know some CPCs with 5+ years experience who could probably write code on their breaks and be completely unaffected, but training is a completely different beast. Not to mention there are a lot of CPCs who will never get to the point of being that comfortable, and it’s impossible to tell how you’ll be until you are actually doing it. All things considered I think you’re crazy if you leave tech, especially with the way it seems like they are all transitioning to remote/hybrid schedules. I could think of a lot of places I’d be way happier working remote making 60k less per year. Either way, I hope everything works out for the best.
 

Phillytroll69

Forum Sage
FAA
Messages
599
Facility
JNU Juneau Tower
Good question.

Career field, easy. However, this particular role at this particular company (which I honestly think is a major diamond in the rough), possible, but not 100%. My current role furthermore has a really good path forward in terms of responsibility, compensation, skill development, etc as long as I put the effort in. It's just that the tech world itself is problematic/tiring with its culture. Ie: the tech bros and the code til you drop even in your free time culture. I'm naturally good at the subject matter, but I'm not enamored with it. I quite frankly don't want to do stuff like build random stuff in the cloud, maintain servers and websites, create a home fiber network, or contribute to open source in my free time like so many of them do. As far as I can tell so far from experience, I'd rather fly, learn more about flight, or even build an airplane.
Not to make huge assumptions here-bro culture is pretty standard in this job. My facility isn't huge but it still has the 'in' the click with union stuff. It's not a full dodge on that.

It sounds like you really enjoy flying, but let's be honest that career path is rough, expensive, and it kinda sucks-so we are at least narrowing the field to how do I find my hobby-i don't think you'd necessarily love tower/rapcon/center.

Pros-
you take nothing home with you, usually.
you can just tell and swear at your 'boss' and nobody will care,
max legal is 55 or 60 hours in a week,
Decent tsp matching, benefits, stability

Cons
Old, buildings and equipment
Just like with tech very little professionalism,
Does your tech give you stipends for (cafeteria, Starbucks) that goes away
If you're at bumfuck for your first facility get used to the same 3 restaurants for next two years
NO REMOTE COMMUTING


I left sales for this and make about the same amount at my up down. First facility was horrid-there is a real probability you get stuck at a shitty tower for a few years. The thing that made me switch was retirement age. Mandatory 56 with a pension
 

dms22590

Active Member
Messages
75
If you love flying and you make enough money to afford to get your licenses I’d recommend flying. But just like ATC, you can expect to start your professional career making not-so-good money.
 

TimShady

Trusted Contributor
Messages
70
I quite frankly don't want to do stuff like build random stuff in the cloud, maintain servers and websites, create a home fiber network, or contribute to open source in my free time like so many of them do. As far as I can tell so far from experience, I'd rather fly, learn more about flight, or even build an airplane.

Maybe continuing in your career and pursuing aviation as a hobby is the answer. The grass isn’t always greener and it’s a lot of time/trouble/risk to find out.
 

Jsybird2532

Member
Messages
89
The thing that made me switch was retirement age. Mandatory 56 with a pension
This is a huge selling point assuming I get enroute. No pensions like that exist anymore in the private sector, just stocks and 401k. You also get TSP as a controller too. I guess I'd be set for life if I take this? (Vs volatility in tech/private sector)

AG pay is pennies vs D-side...that's really where my complaint comes in. Just the whole idea of sitting there for years...

Maybe continuing in your career and pursuing aviation as a hobby is the answer. The grass isn’t always greener and it’s a lot of time/trouble/risk to find out.

Thought of doing that, believe me. But it just seems aiming for CPC could be a good long term solution to do aviation on both the job and personal side of life ($150-$200k is more than enough to support a private flying habit).
 
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Traffic8Out

Trusted Contributor
Messages
100
Unpaid LOA, I don't think so. I think I read somewhere that the FAA requires you to resign previous employment upon taking their offer to go to Basics/OKC? That would preclude a formal leave of absence with my current employer.
Doesn't need to be a formal one. Just depends on the relationship with your manager or whoever is in charge of that. If you have a decent relationship let them know what's going on and see what if they can work anything out with you. When I got hired with the FAA, my employer told me that I was always welcome to come back if anything changed.
 

Peter Gibbons

Legendary Member
FAA
Messages
1,572
Facility
OKC Oklahoma City Tower
Thought of doing that, believe me. But it just seems aiming for CPC could be a good long term solution to do aviation on both job and personal side ($150-$200k is more than enough to support a private flying habit).
On the flip side..... this job also has a side effect of killing any love you may have for aviation as a hobby/interest unless you want to just base your whole personality on your job in my experience.

Used to be a big airplane nerd. I drive out of the gate now and don't want to see or think about airplanes until I return for my next shift. I don't go flying for fun (license hasn't been current in years), I don't go to airshows, and I sure as hell ain't playing flight simulator on the realistic setting.

In fact I'll go as far as saying at this point the people who do act like that actually bother me now. Aviation as a personality trait is lame.
 
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