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Old 04-17-2015, 09:23 PM   #1  
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Arrow leaving ATC career to go back to piloting?

Hey guys,

I'd like to hear some input and get advice from you all on something I've been struggling with for quite some time now...

Last year I left my 135 job as a Lear 45 f/o to pursue the opportunity to become an Air Traffic Controller. I was sad to leave flying as a career for good, and decided that I wouldn't look back on it due to the terrible schedule, bad pay, lack of QOL/social life/relationships, hotels, etc...you know the drill.

I had an interest in ATC since doing the CTI program in college, and finally had the opportunity that I couldn't turn down. I was excited to finally have a career that would pay me great money, job stability, allow for a good schedule and vacation time, and give me a fantastic retirement and pension. Those are the main reasons I took the job.

There's one major problem here though....I thought all that would make me happy, to finally have the things I could never have while charter flying...yet now I'm so unhappy with my ATC career! I'm miserable. I really miss flying, I never really worked and I got to have fun all day and see some amazing places. I hate waking up to go to work now, driving the same road every day, working with the same people every day, sitting in the dark tracon...overall I don't really like going to work and all I can think of is my old office at FL410 and spending "work" sitting in the islands. Flying has always been my dream and passion since as young as I could remember.

I've been at ATC about 6 months now, and I'm seriously considering getting back into flying. I've already turned down a couple 135 jet offers, and I have another one in the works now. I want to do it, but honestly the biggest thing holding me back is the pay that I'll be making with ATC, and the amazing federal retirement I'll be receiving in 25 years...it's so hard to walk away from the pay and benefits, yet I don't enjoy going to work. I always looked forward to going to work flying, always had a smile on my face, even though the 135 life outside of flying was pretty painful.

I guess my heart says fly, yet my brain says stay ATC for the pay, benefits, and stability. I recently started doing some part time instructing in 172s, but it isn't doing it for me....I want to be back in the jet and experiencing the world and meeting people. I'm very grateful for the opportunities I've had and continue to have, I seem to be blessed with many flying jobs if I want them, but I'm so lost. I was making 45k flying last, and the upcoming job offer will pay about 50k, whereas my ATC job will be paying 80k in 2 years, then up to over 110k as I progress in the next 5-8 years...not to mention the pension and matching TSP/401k.

Any advice is appreciated and hope to be steered in the direction I need to be going...

I just turned 27 years old with 2500TT, 800 turbine, ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI.....single, no kids or family obligations.
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Old 04-17-2015, 10:36 PM   #2  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scubaash View Post
Hey guys,

I'd like to hear some input and get advice from you all on something I've been struggling with for quite some time now...

Last year I left my 135 job as a Lear 45 f/o to pursue the opportunity to become an Air Traffic Controller. I was sad to leave flying as a career for good, and decided that I wouldn't look back on it due to the terrible schedule, bad pay, lack of QOL/social life/relationships, hotels, etc...you know the drill.

I had an interest in ATC since doing the CTI program in college, and finally had the opportunity that I couldn't turn down. I was excited to finally have a career that would pay me great money, job stability, allow for a good schedule and vacation time, and give me a fantastic retirement and pension. Those are the main reasons I took the job.

There's one major problem here though....I thought all that would make me happy, to finally have the things I could never have while charter flying...yet now I'm so unhappy with my ATC career! I'm miserable. I really miss flying, I never really worked and I got to have fun all day and see some amazing places. I hate waking up to go to work now, driving the same road every day, working with the same people every day, sitting in the dark tracon...overall I don't really like going to work and all I can think of is my old office at FL410 and spending "work" sitting in the islands. Flying has always been my dream and passion since as young as I could remember.

I've been at ATC about 6 months now, and I'm seriously considering getting back into flying. I've already turned down a couple 135 jet offers, and I have another one in the works now. I want to do it, but honestly the biggest thing holding me back is the pay that I'll be making with ATC, and the amazing federal retirement I'll be receiving in 25 years...it's so hard to walk away from the pay and benefits, yet I don't enjoy going to work. I always looked forward to going to work flying, always had a smile on my face, even though the 135 life outside of flying was pretty painful.

I guess my heart says fly, yet my brain says stay ATC for the pay, benefits, and stability. I recently started doing some part time instructing in 172s, but it isn't doing it for me....I want to be back in the jet and experiencing the world and meeting people. I'm very grateful for the opportunities I've had and continue to have, I seem to be blessed with many flying jobs if I want them, but I'm so lost. I was making 45k flying last, and the upcoming job offer will pay about 50k, whereas my ATC job will be paying 80k in 2 years, then up to over 110k as I progress in the next 5-8 years...not to mention the pension and matching TSP/401k.

Any advice is appreciated and hope to be steered in the direction I need to be going...

I just turned 27 years old with 2500TT, 800 turbine, ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI.....single, no kids or family obligations.

It's a great job until you grow up and want to have a kid, wife, etc. You'll be wishing for that six figure job with good benefits and a pension. While working 135 I can tell you it's very difficult to maintain any relationships. Thankfully my wife is involved in aviation (not flying) and puts up with me. She has all her ratings but quit flying. She makes more money than I do and works from home. I couldn't imagine being single again and trying to start a new relationship while working on-demand charter. I know there are better gigs out there but hopefully I'll find one. Either way I'm constantly afraid of losing my job as my plane is up for sale.

If I were as young as you given the current hiring climate I would go 121 to have some resemblance of a life.
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Old 04-18-2015, 06:11 AM   #3  
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I wouldn't do it. Fly for fun on the side. You would be giving up a great job, with great benefits, a generous pension, etc. You can transfer to different facilities for a change of pace. You can also apply for other ATO (non-2152) positions within the Agency. Don't give up just yet! If you leave, you would be giving up ALOT that you worked hard for.

Stay until you reach the minimum retirement age (57) so you can get the 1.7% FERS. Then go do whatever you heart's content!
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Old 04-18-2015, 09:21 AM   #4  
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Man up, stop complaining and realize how good you have it.
I don't think you're going to find much sympathy here. Stay at your ATC job. In 10 years, when you see you're child on his first birthday, the ACTUAL day, not a made up one for the party, you'll be happy you did.
If I wasn't over 31, I apply to ATC in a heartbeat.
Further, get out of the TRACON if you don't like it after a year. Find an open position in a tower. And you have a problem working with the same people every day? That might be a personal problem.
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Old 04-18-2015, 09:28 AM   #5  
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Timing is good for returning to flying BUT I'll be honest with you, not all flying jobs are going to give you the same safe, secure income as your current ATC career.. you are young and unattached so it's not as hard... but still thing long and hard about it... airlines are hit and miss.. hiring today, furloughing tomorrow.. I've been thru a lot of ups and down over the past 15 years... mostly downs..
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Old 04-18-2015, 10:30 AM   #6  
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Originally Posted by scubaash View Post
I'm miserable. I really miss flying, I never really worked and I got to have fun all day and see some amazing places. I hate waking up to go to work now, driving the same road every day, working with the same people every day, sitting in the dark tracon...overall I don't really like going to work and all I can think of is my old office at FL410 and spending "work" sitting in the islands. Flying has always been my dream and passion since as young as I could remember.
I guess I'll be the lone dissenter here and say that if you're that miserable, I think considering a return to flying is a wise choice. Yeah, money and benefits are important, but so is being happy going to work every day. You've already done the flying side, so you know what you'd be getting yourself into. You also know that if your priorities change down the road (i.e. family, kids, etc), you might find yourself very seriously regretting your choice. BUT, if you're pretty confident in what direction you want to go with your life, and you feel like you can manage the QOL and lifestyle sacrifices that being a full-time pilot involves, than I would encourage you to go for it. There is nothing worse than sitting at work every day of your life wishing you were doing something else - especially when that something else is something that you're already trained for and qualified to do.
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Old 04-18-2015, 12:18 PM   #7  
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True happiness comes from within, NOT from a job/career. Don't let the JOB define who you are as a person.
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Old 04-19-2015, 03:05 PM   #8  
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Go back to flying, I did, I don't regret it at all. I've done both, I went to ATC for the same reasons you stated but it wasn't for me and you only live once. ATC is a great career for some but not for me, I got into aviation to fly. Just like you, I hated the routine, dark rooms, same people, same city, training, you sound like you've made up your mind. For some the routine is great, for me it was a slow death, retirement benefits and stability are great things but the job wasn't enough for me.


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Old 04-19-2015, 03:15 PM   #9  
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Originally Posted by PerfInit View Post
True happiness comes from within, NOT from a job/career. Don't let the JOB define who you are as a person.
^^^^^^This.
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:53 PM   #10  
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Go back to flying, I did, I don't regret it at all. I've done both, I went to ATC for the same reasons you stated but it wasn't for me and you only live once. ATC is a great career for some but not for me, I got into aviation to fly. Just like you, I hated the routine, dark rooms, same people, same city, training, you sound like you've made up your mind. For some the routine is great, for me it was a slow death, retirement benefits and stability are great things but the job wasn't enough for me.


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How long were you in ATC for, and how old were you when you left? 135 or 121 pilot? Sounds like you were in the same shoes as me...
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