Got a high school diploma? Want $102,000? Welcome to the world of air traffic control!

A few months back, Randy Burnham wrote a piece about post-retirement employment; among other things, he noted that the incredible attrition rate among air traffic controllers was leading to huge bonuses and massively inflated incomes. He suggested that retirees looking to begin the next stage of their lives could do a lot worse than entering the world of air traffic control.

In the ensuing months, the air traffic controller shortfall has become even worse, leading to ever-increasing bonuses and an ever-widening search for the next generation of controllers. In New York City, where the need is particularly acute, the FAA sweetened the pot by offering $102,000 bonuses to trained controllers who are willing to move to the area. $27,000 of this will be paid upfront, and the remaining $75,000 will be paid out over a period of four years. The offer, which expired on July 8, was an attempt to deal with the massive attrition rate among area controllers.

While the FAA is attempting to draw trained professionals to the area, it is also working to attract the next generation of controllers. One program draws new hires straight out of high school. After three months in training, the applicants become "controllers in training" and, ultimately, full-fledged air traffic controllers. According to the FAA website, the only official requirements are that applicants:
  • Must be United States citizens
  • Must be younger than 31
  • Must pass medical exams and security investigations
  • Must have held a job for three years
  • Must pass the FAA's pre-employment test
  • Must speak English clearly
  • Must complete an interview
Although air traffic control is a famously stressful job, it also pays very well, and applicants who can handle a lot of stress and aren't inclined toward hypertension may find it a great path to follow after graduation. Besides, with the possibility of $102,000 bonuses flying around, it sure beats flipping burgers!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer,
blogger, and all-around cheapskate. After seeing
Airplane! a few hundred times, he decided that he definitely didn't want to be an air traffic controller. Basically, he couldn't handle the glue sniffing.
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