What is family life really like for an ATC?

bigfooten28

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W
Didn’t think the AF could make you do actual air traffic control duties for more than 10 hours a day and more than 6 days in a row ever.


Also, OP hope you give your fiancée a chance. I’ve had to go through the training demand, shitty schedules, long distance, etc. We both had demanding schedules too, she was going to school and a RN. So we made the most out of our time together and made sure we always had time to just forget work and chill. It’s hard at first, but doable.
we’re not ATC so don’t really have any rules when it comes to that.
 

FooFighter19

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FAA
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Facility
GSO Greensboro Tower
The pay is good. Hotels are cheaper on Tuesdays and Wednesdays if you're traveling. He will definitely miss things with the kids if you have them, but it's the greatest job in the world if you ask me.
 
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denver0739

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I can’t speak to what it’s really like as I haven’t even been to the academy yet. I just got my FOL for July 11th. But I can say that I’ve been married for 8 years, the first 3-5 I worked two jobs so my wife could stay home and take care of the house and kids. I was pulling 70 hour weeks regularly over 6 days. I was a waste by the time a week was done.

Since then I’ve gotten myself down to 1 job that is willing to work with me, they give me dedicated overtime even when there isn’t any for anybody else. I’ll be giving up a good thing, but it’ll be towards a dream job and a way better lifestyle in the end.

When we looked into this as a career path, I made it very clear what it would be like. She honestly had all the same fears and concerns that you’ve listed in your post. It’s a hugely demanding job, and if you look only at the issues, it’ll be even harder. But if you only look on towards the next step I think it’ll help. Just figure out the next step, you never know what’ll happen in life. Maybe the schedules won’t suck like you think they will? Maybe something will change in your life and you’re not going to want him to have weekend off anymore. You never know, life is full of surprises.

If you choose to do this, it would mean the world to him. I mean, regardless of who asked, he wants to spend his life with you. He/you made that choice. Communicating and working together, sharing your fear, sharing your desires and concerns will help tremendously. I’ve had many conversations with my wife about this. There will be things that need to be compromised on(one of which for me is bringing my family to okc). I know it goes against what most people suggest, but whether this job succeeds or fails for me, I want my family to be around when I’m done and retired at 56(or whenever it turns out to be).

I hope you stick it out, I think it’ll be tough but in the end you’ll both be able to sit back on a great retirement and relationship and say “wow, we actually did that”

But that’s just one ATCers hopefully opinion.
 

spider

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363
Not being home for birthdays and Christmas is part of the gig. Some years you'll win some and some years you'll lose some. Shift work sucks.

As for divorce rates, I feel like divorce rates are high no matter what. I don't really think ATC has anything to do with it. I've been married 13 years, met in high school -- we were together when I had trouble making the bus to school, made it through college, we've been together when we had no money and we've been together when we've had plenty.

I had plenty of jobs before this. All of them had their own set of challenges, none of them paid nearly as much. As much as we complain about overtime and holidays...there are very few jobs that I can think of that pay this well and let us work the amount of hours that we actually do. There are plenty of people who make as much and more but are salaried and not working "9-5" but more "7-7" with work to take home.

Life is hard, it's even harder when you don't have money. I remember the days when I was making $9.00 an hour and would have drooled at the opportunity to make nearly $1,000 for 8 hours of overtime. Now, I live comfortably enough where half the time I'm not even interested in it and would rather just have the day off.
 

nbk14

Member
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103
1) will I have the same schedule every week at least? I can deal with the nightnight/dayday thing if it's the same every week

I wonder how do two atcs couple work out in the long run.
 

spider

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363
1) will I have the same schedule every week at least? I can deal with the nightnight/dayday thing if it's the same every week

I wonder how do two atcs couple work out in the long run.

Every facility is a little different but yes and no.

You can expect your first and second day to be swing shifts (Think start times anywhere between 1300-1500). Your third day should ideally be a day shift (Think start times around 0700) but your third day can also be assigned a 1200. Your fourth day should be a day shift. Your fifth day could be a mid shift. You can bid a line with permanent mids, no mids, or rotating mids. If your facility gets a lot of OT then you're just screwed after that. Worst case scenario for OT, in my opinion, is a second day RDO mid shift. Those absolutely suck and screw up your entire weekend.

Of the few married ATC's I've worked with, they usually bid one crew apart.
 

DankVectorz

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FAA
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1,494
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N90 New York Tracon
1) will I have the same schedule every week at least? I can deal with the nightnight/dayday thing if it's the same every week

I wonder how do two atcs couple work out in the long run.

Depends on the facility. Some places have rotating days off so everyone gets to have a weekend off every month. My place you have the same days off but you rotate between days one week and swings the next. Other places do the swing swing day day Mid.
 

yup

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Messages
184
I'm only as far as the academy myself and I'm not pretending to be an expert on relationships, but I see where dnb462 is coming from. I'm especially concerned about the "led to believe it's a 9-5" thing—why were you led to believe that? Did your fiancé tell you that? That's either very deceptive or just plain uninformed on his part, and if ATC has been his dream for a long time he should definitely know better.

Me personally I would definitely put off trying for a baby until after he passes the academy at least, ideally until after he certifies somewhere. Enroute academy is close to five months long and then he has another 2-3 years of training before he certifies at his facility. He might not pass, he might not certify, he might certify but you guys hate where he was sent and he transfers halfway across the country after a year... better for all that to happen without worrying about a pregnancy or a toddler.
 

JNev

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BWI Baltimore Tower
Me personally I would definitely put off trying for a baby until after he passes the academy at least, ideally until after he certifies somewhere. Enroute academy is close to five months long and then he has another 2-3 years of training before he certifies at his facility. He might not pass, he might not certify, he might certify but you guys hate where he was sent and he transfers halfway across the country after a year... better for all that to happen without worrying about a pregnancy or a toddler.
I can see this point of view, but I started in OKC like 2 weeks after my son was born. My wife stayed at her parents' house in MD while I was in OKC and it worked out okay for me (a little bit of guilt about going out while she was waking up with the newborn). I don't think it really impacted me all that much. In the grand scheme of a marriage and life, 3-5 months is nothing.
 

GulfBravoPapa

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1,246
I can see this point of view, but I started in OKC like 2 weeks after my son was born. My wife stayed at her parents' house in MD while I was in OKC and it worked out okay for me (a little bit of guilt about going out while she was waking up with the newborn). I don't think it really impacted me all that much. In the grand scheme of a marriage and life, 3-5 months is nothing.
Lol of course it didn't impact you. You had zero responsibilities for the newborn
 

Lynn216

Member
Messages
1
I am a wife to an ATC and I have to be blunt and say if you are already willing to give up on this man because of his work schedule then maybe you should think about walking away now and spare the poor guy. He deserves someone to be there for better or for worse who won’t walk away over him not having weekends off. There are so many jobs other than ATC where either the wife or husband works weekends, holidays and OT. I have worked these types of jobs myself. Thank God my husband wouldn’t leave me because of it! It doesn’t mean either parent is not a good parent because they don’t have weekends off.
My husbands most recent schedule he has Sundays and Mondays off and it’s been that way for almost two years. It works out great. If it changes to days off during the week we will deal with it because we are committed to each other. Holidays you can just celebrate on a different day. Good luck to your fiancé whatever you choose. 👍🏻
Hello everyone. I hope it's ok for me to post this here.

My fiance just got his class date for En Route, and I've recently started finding out some information that's making me very concerned about this job and lifestyle. For some background information, we are actively trying to have a baby, and I recently started taking fertility medication (which hasn't been helping at all with my emotional state and anxiety about this job).

First, I was never told about the high divorce rates in this job, which apparently happens often enough for it to be a meme/joke on many internet forums. Apparently it's not that out of the ordinary for ATCs to have multiple divorces. I also only recently found out about how terrible the shifts can be, and how often my fiance would be missing not just major holidays with his family, but birthdays and anniversaries and weekends in general as well. I was led to understand that this would be more like a 9-5 job, which apparently isn't the case at all. I also read a post on another forum about a woman in a similar situation (newly married, just had their first kid), and she was talking about how for the first few years she was essentially a single parent, and they eventually ended up getting divorced, due in large part to his work schedule.

All of this has completely blindsided me, and I'm extremely worried about our future. If this is all true, then I honestly don't know if I want to even go through with marrying my fiance, much less have a baby with him. I grew up with an absentee father who had an extremely demanding job, he was never home for Christmases and birthdays and I probably only saw him a few times a month. I don't want the same for my kids. ATC has been his dream job for a really long time, and I don't want to be that girl who makes him choose between his career and his partner, it's not fair to either of us. So if all of this stuff is true, please let me know so we can make the right plans before it's too late.

Any information that could shed some light on these concerns would be really appreciated. Thanks for reading.
 

DL0509

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339
Honestly she probably said what most people were thinking, none of us had the balls to say it.
 

SugarFoot1

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455
Im usually the type to lose my shit on someone that comes on here saying some garbage like that. So many nice long responses made me just stay out of it. Let his ass go work at Lowe’s and y’all struggle to pay a mortgage and all the other expenses. Enjoy those holidays eating crackers and ketchup tho!!
 
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