If you’re ever considered becoming an air traffic controller you might be curious what the perks of the job are. After all, a job that comes with that much responsibility (and stress) should also come with some great benefits.
Do air traffic controllers get offered a generous list of benefits?
Yes, they do.
Air traffic controllers have one of the most important jobs in the entire aviation industry. Along with that comes a lot of hard work and stress. The good news is that they also have access to some of the best benefits of any career.
In this article we will look at some of the best benefits that air traffic controllers are allowed. These includes benefits that help them financially as well as their quality of life.
Let’s take a closer look.
1. Excellent Pay
As of last year, the median pay for an air traffic controller is almost $130,000 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
This is a very competitive salary that puts you well into the upper middle class in the United States. Most careers that have this high of an average pay require at least a bachelors degree if not an advanced degree.
For example, according to a poll US News did in 202, the average attorney earns $126,900 in the United States. This means that the average ATC earns slightly more than the average lawyer!
2. Federal Insurance Benefits
Health insurance is easily one of the most expensive benefits anyone has to worry about these days. One of the amazing benefits of being an air traffic controller is that you qualify for the insurance coverage as a federal employee.
This insurance comes with some of the best coverage and lowest premiums available and is better than a vast majority of the benefits offered by private employers. This benefit alone can add up to thousands of dollars each year in saved money.
This includes health coverage as well as dental, vision, and even life insurance.
3. Advancement Opportunities
As you gain experience as an air traffic controller, you can expect to reap the benefits of more seniority by earning even more money and having the ability to relocate to another part of the country you might prefer to live in.
Once you have even more experience and seniority, you can even apply for a promotion and become a supervisor. This comes with the ability to earn even more money.
4. Intensive Training (That is PAID!)
For many high paying professional jobs, you’ll find that much of the professional development is up to you to find and pay for. Many companies that expect you to earn an advanced degree will ask you to attend classes (and often pay for tuition) on your own so that you can someday have the job you want.
Becoming an air traffic controller is different. Once you are hired by the FAA, you will be put through training at their facility where you will receive some the best air traffic control training in the world.
On top of that, you will not only get paid while you learn but they will reimburse you for other expenses you incur while training.
There are few careers left where training is provided to you while you are getting paid and having all your expenses covered. After all this, you go on to earn the great salary listed above.
Talk about a great deal.
5. Time Off
Air traffic controllers work for the Federal Aviation Administration, which technically makes them government employees. This means they qualify for some great benefits when it comes to getting time off.
Their time off includes vacation/personal time and sick time.
Air traffic controllers qualify for between 13 and 26 vacation days per year. This means that at some point you’ll qualify for over 5 full weeks of vacation per year. Again, not many employers offer their employees that great of a vacation policy.
They also earn 13 sick days per year which is one of the best policies around. Many private employers offer 6 or less sick days per year to full time employees.
6. Retirement Plan
Air Traffic Controllers also qualify to have three sources of income for their retirement income. This includes:
Basic Benefit Plan
This component of the retirement plan is based on the number of years you worked and how much you earned. While the calculation for this can be complex, you can expect it to provide a substantial income for a retired air traffic controller and is similar to having a pension plan. Here is a look at the actual calculation.
Thrift Savings Plan
A thrift savings plan is much like a 401k plan but for government employees. A percentage of your income is matched by the FAA and deposited into this account. You can then start taking distributions from this account after you retire.
Social security is the third component of the retirement income for an air traffic controller. Like any other federal employee, ATC’s pay into the social security system and can begin getting payouts once they reach retirement age. A special consideration for air traffic controllers who retire before reaching the age requirement for social security is a special supplement to make up for this gap. This is due to the job requiring you to retire at 56 years old instead of letting you work until age 65.
When it’s all said and done, it’s not uncommon for a retired air traffic controller to earn near or even over $100,000 annually.
7. Retire Early
Regardless of how much you enjoy your job, at some point you want to have the option to retire and spend more time doing other things you enjoy. For some people this means a retirement full of travel and spending time with loved ones. For others it might mean starting a second career in another profession you might be interested in.
Air traffic controllers have the luxury of retiring earlier than most professions.
Here is the age requirements for an air traffic controller to retire:
- Age 56 – standard required retirement age
- Age 50 – if you have 20 years of service
- At any age once you have 25 years of service
That means that the oldest you’ll work as an air traffic controller is 56 while some that started early can be retired by their late 40’s!
That allows for plenty of time to have an entire second career or travel the world.
8. Rewarding Career
As mentioned before, air traffic controllers have a high sense of personal satisfaction based on the work they do. It’s a great feeling knowing that your hard work and training is what allows millions of people to safely fly to their destinations.
The aviation industry would not be as safe or complex if it weren’t for the hard work of these professionals. Multiple studies have shown that people who have jobs that they find rewarding and feel like make a difference in the world are happier than those who don’t.
This is an area where being an air traffic controller really shines.
9. Job Security
Despite the incredible pay and benefits package for air traffic controllers, there is still a shortage of air traffic controllers. In addition, as the travel industry continues to grow so will the demand for air traffic controllers. The FAA is continuing to expand their recruiting and training efforts in an effort to get more people to consider the career.
The good news for those who are in the field is that you won’t have to worry about there not being enough demand. The risk of getting laid off is very small. Instead, you can expect a stable job and increases in pay over time.
As you can see, being an air traffic controller comes with a long list of great benefits. Some of them make sure you are well compensated for the amount of hard work you put in, while others make sure you have a great lifestyle both while you’re working and after you retire.
ATC’s play a vital role in the world and deserve to be compensated for their contribution so the above list of benefits is well deserved.
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming an air traffic controller, check out the FAA’s page on it so you can find out if it’s a good fit for you.