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Old 05-14-2019, 02:52 PM   #1  
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Default ATC Considering Making the Switch

Hello all,
Since about three years old being a pilot has been my dream. I Got my PPL and Instrument almost 8 years ago, and was on track to start my commercial, and, to make a long story short, I saw the state of the airline industry, a lot of discontented pilots, and I ended up as an air traffic controller. Iíve been doing that for almost eight years at three different facilities and Iím feeling burnt out. There are so many pros to this jobóbeing home (almost) every night, good pay, retirement, government security (save for a furlough here and there)...but I canít see myself doing it for another 25 years. Iím 32 now in CA. Iíd essentially have to start over since itís been so long since Iíve flown. Taking a huge pay cut and investing a lot of money into this is honestly daunting, as is the thought of instructing, time building, as well as the whole career change thing. Iíve heard of pilots doing the switch to atc, but not as much the other way.

I think about flying every day, but the sentiment that follows is usually ďthe grass is not always greener!Ē I always think about an AA pilot I knew from years back who told me I made the right choice in not trying to come the airlines...this was when the economy was really in the sewer, though.

Anyone on here whoís made the switch, or care to give any perspective?
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:05 PM   #2  
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Are you a Center controller or something else?
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:10 PM   #3  
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Are you a Center controller or something else?
Currently at a large TRACON.
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:56 PM   #4  
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Iíve heard of pilots doing the switch to atc, but not as much the other way.
That was then, this is now. Opportunity abounds for the near/mid term, if your whole person is competitive and you can keep a clean record. It's in your favor that you've flown before... at least you know you can do it.

Only you can assess your personal risk tolerance. It is a riskier path on several counts. Upside is new-ish legacy/big-6 FO's get to $200k+ very quickly, with plenty of time off and benefits. The other big majors are not too far behind that.
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Old 05-14-2019, 04:00 PM   #5  
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Think Iíd finish enough time to get a government pension, while getting back into flying now....you come out in 12 years or so current and marketable, with almost a 20 year career ahead. Alternately, you could quickly get up to speed, build the hours now and get in during one of largest hiring waves ever, riding it all the way to retirement.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:26 AM   #6  
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Suggest you give consideration to finishing your ATC career, fly for fun on the side, retire at 56 and then pursue an airline career. Have you thought about transferring to Flight Check?

Stay with the Feds, max out your TSP and secure that 1.7% FERS. You will thank yourself later for the awesome nest egg and retirement health care benefits. Try finding similar benefits in industry. The economy (and airline industry) is cyclical. We are overdue for another down turn. I guess its up to you to weigh the Risk vs Reward.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:46 AM   #7  
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Suggest you give consideration to finishing your ATC career, fly for fun on the side, retire at 56 and then pursue an airline career. Have you thought about transferring to Flight Check?

Stay with the Feds, max out your TSP and secure that 1.7% FERS. You will thank yourself later for the awesome nest egg and retirement health care benefits. Try finding similar benefits in industry. The economy (and airline industry) is cyclical. We are overdue for another down turn. I guess its up to you to weigh the Risk vs Reward.

I agree with this. In an era called the Dot-Com boom, folks were quitting their 9-5 office jobs and becoming day traders.


Then the market tanked.
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:47 AM   #8  
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Thanks for the replies. I was definitely surprised to see how much legacy pilots were making nowóeven regional pilotsí salaries have improved, but I guess a lot of that is due to profit sharing? Right now Iím still trying to play the numbers game and try to gauge how much Iíd have to lay out to finish my ratings.

Government work is about as secure as it gets, I admit....but I just donít know if I can see myself at this job for another 25 years.
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:57 AM   #9  
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Thanks for the replies. I was definitely surprised to see how much legacy pilots were making nowóeven regional pilotsí salaries have improved, but I guess a lot of that is due to profit sharing? Right now Iím still trying to play the numbers game and try to gauge how much Iíd have to lay out to finish my ratings.

Government work is about as secure as it gets, I admit....but I just donít know if I can see myself at this job for another 25 years.

can you get into the Flight Inspection pilot ranks ?
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:17 PM   #10  
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can you get into the Flight Inspection pilot ranks ?
I havenít seen any postings for those jobs, but I would imagine they require an ATP and significant time. My issue would be building time, not something Iíd be able to do while at my current job
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