Two-Week ATC Application Window Opens Friday


The FAA has launched a barrage of social media posts aimed at gathering applicants for its next intake of air traffic controller trainees. The next application period begins Friday and lasts until May 8. The agency is short about 3,000 controllers and is under pressure to get those posts filled in light of a rash of highly publicized runway incursions in the last couple of years and has received extra funding to expedite training and broaden the pool of candidates. But even though there is both political and bureaucratic will to get those positions filled, the agency is not backing off on the rigorous training and competency requirements.

Applicants can’t be older than 30 and must be U.S. citizens, nationals or those who owe allegiance to the U.S. (IFR-rated pilots get a leg up), pass a medical and be willing to take drug tests, and the application does not sugarcoat what is expected of applicants. “Individuals who do not successfully complete training at the FAA Academy and all other necessary requirements will have their employment terminated,” the application says. Those who pass the numerous tests and on-the-job training get a starting salary of $43,727 plus benefits and location pay if applicable.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Yeah BUT … do they still have the woke DEI requirements in place locking otherwise well qualified applicants out of competing? A two week window seems short to me, too? I’m forcing myself not to type what I’m really thinking.

    • Hi, Larry S! Interesting question! I looked on the FAA’s webpage to see if there was an answer, but the only ‘preference’ category that I could find was for veterans! I did find, however, that the second step in the application process was to pass something called the ‘Air Traffic Skills Assessment’ with a score in a ‘certain percentile’, and that people with certain educational backgrounds might be given higher consideration as well.

      Oh, and there’s also a preference (a requirement, really) that applicants be under 30 years old. Looks like your best bet is to be a young, educated veteran, I guess!

      Hope that helps! Have a great day!

      • I already knew that, JA. I was asking a rhetorical question. The ‘skills assessment” is how they did it last time … locking out people who had spent their own money and time to get a degree preparing for the job only to be locked out because they didn’t meet the woke litmus test.

    • Oh I think you did type what you were thinking Larry. Rest assured the “qualified” and “skills” portions of the requirements will keep ignorant applicants away so they can all go back to sleep under their rock. You know the one!

      • Isn’t it NOT so funny that we were having this conversation before the Reagan incident, Art. There ya go. Be careful what ya ask for …

      • Hi, Arthur! Can you please provide support for your assertion that the Reagan incident was a result of diverse hiring practices?


  2. As a retired ARTCC FAA controller I want woke controllers. You don’t want those guys falling asleep on the job.

    • Now THAT made me roar, Dave. Now that you put it that way, I want ‘woke,’ too 🙂
      Methinks we’re talking about 2 kinds of ‘woke,’ tho.

  3. Hold on, 43K as starting pay? @ $828 a week or $3300 (pretax) a month. Wow.

    I think I may see the issue with an ATC shortage. Entry level programmers that do not have people lives in their hands start at higher pay. Union members on a production line may have higher starting pay

    This may be simplified, but it seems to me that any one going into ATC has to have a quick mind, be technically oriented, be able to handle high stress and still function. 43K and if you F up, its not a stopped production line or a programming error, it is lives.

    FFS Government, maybe up the entry salary by say 20K ands see if not only do you get higher quality of entrants, but just basically more of then to weed out.

    • Yeah, more than a little surprising.. Under California’s new wage law for “Fast Food Workers:, a new hire at McDonalds <with no particular skills assessment" will earn $3,480/mo for a standard 40 hour work week, and no overtime. Perhaps the FAA needs to rethink its salary structure for high-skill positions…

    • hi all,
      38 yr retired controller here. Ive seen all the dei nonsense in effect, even from my day one hire. First should be the ex military atc hired. same rule book Faa order 7110.65. controllers bible. Next is the cti grads. college training initiative. colleges w atc degree programs, then ots off the street. Lets not be worried about pc or tap dance on thin ice here. Lets tell the truth !. I know a forgotton concept in todays world.
      Please google and read dei in the sky by zerohedge. It will expose all the nonsense
      that went on for a few years at the faa and atc hiring. That a dei hire became faa HR-1.
      Threw out the atc assement test and came up with a biographical questionare designed
      to hire minorities. Leaked the test answers to a minorty supe at washington center. Then abrupt retire. This was all reported here on avweb before.
      The damage is done, hard to rectify.
      Its sad to see this. Many of us were very proud of our career and profession.
      Staffing issues, mainly in the larger 24 hr facilities. Lots of overtime. Combined positions. Try to train the untrainable in all of this. This is a huge faa management problem that is spread out over yrs and many individuals.
      Im so glad NATCA was defending us or the problem would be much worse.
      In todays faa if you are a white middle age male you have become the problem.
      Yet we are the ones carrying the load, and making it happen, abit limping along.
      This isnt just the faa, this is todays world everywhere. Alot of all the pvt/govt dei programs being dismantled. Enough of the bs! People should be hired, promoted, via senority, merit, ability, knowledge, skill. NOT by how many boxes you can check.
      So glad to be retired. I hear from some controllers who are still working, they will pull the plug asap, as soon as eligible. They are so sick of the quality of trainees. Its a tough job already , now throw in a non quality trainee, they will muck up the sector,
      the atc controller / instructor will have to unwind the furball, this goes on all day long.
      If there is one error, even if the computer detects 4.99 mi instead of 5 mi seperation(center),or 2.99 instead of three(terminal) its an operational error, you will lose any chance of a bonus , end of year.
      I could go on and on, all of us retired atc could write a book, it would read the same.
      Im giving high marks. to Mr Michael Whitaker, new faa administrator.
      His finally holding Boeing to account. Hes got alot of fixing in the atc area. I sure hope he will do so with Natca’s help.


      • YOUR input, Mike, is beyond poignant. Who would know better what’s going on in ATC than you? And … you said what I held back on … “In todays faa if you are a white middle age male you have become the problem.” EVERY FAA type I know is chomping at the bit to retire. SAD!

        Until this nonsense ends … this Country is doomed. This 2 week hiring binge is just that IMHO.

      • Wow, michael r – that’s quite a post. One part stood out to me, though, which is your statement “In todays [sic] faa [sic] if you are a white middle age [sic] male you have become the problem. Yet we are the ones carrying the load….” Did you ever wonder why so many of the more experienced controllers are white, middle-aged males? Or are you maybe saying that those are the only types of people qualified (by age? Race? Gender?) to become controllers? I certainly hope not!

        It’s always interesting to me to see how easily people with a great deal of experience tend to put a multiplier on the severity of the mistakes of new entrants into their profession. This is a common human condition, not isolated to retired ATC pros, and happens, I’m sure, in all professions! This is called ‘recency bias’, where the most recent events in our memories have more weight than more distant events. For my part, I’m thankful for it, since it helps people forget my mistakes from when I was younger! But like many biases, it’s based on emotion and feeling rather than fact, and winds up not only clouding our judgment, but potentially harming the target of that bias, especially if it’s further attributed to a characteristic like race or age.

        Have a great day!

  4. That’s flipping burgers in CA at min wage.

    But look at it this way. It’s a 16 week training program of which you pay nothing….Was your college free? Once graduated and assigned to a location the salaries go up substantially. And for good reason…Highly stressful work.

  5. The big cities like LA and NYC pay double what the FAA pays controllers and still can’t get enough recruits. Arguably just as stressful and the training is equally tough, at least mentally. No wonder we have a shortage of both…

  6. I have never understood the ATC hiring process, even when they hired me. Why a two week window? What happens if there’s a third or fourth week, or even no “window” at all? Why not take applications year round? Why lose out on a good candidate because they applied on May 9th? There’s a continuing shortage of controllers, why not try to make it easier to recruit new ones?

    • They typically receive 10s of thousands of applications in that window, but ultimately can only push 1500 people through their training program per year due to training staff and equipment.

  7. hi all,
    Again please google dei in the sky by zerohedge. A couple articles to read on the faa’s debacle of a hiring process.


  8. There’s a 14 billion dollar industry that only hires the best. The FAA needs to do this. Oh, by the way that industry is the NFL, only the best, NO QUOTAS.

  9. The idea that non-white people are somehow less capable is a toxic stereotype fueled by long-standing racism and ignorance. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs tackle these harmful beliefs head-on, pushing for fairness and representation in every layer of society. However, these necessary changes often meet resistance from those who fear losing their grip on power. We need to forcefully reject these outdated views, insist on meaningful education, and fight for policies that ensure everyone is treated equally. It’s time to tear down these barriers with determination.

    • For the umpteenth time, almost no one is saying that non-white people are inherently less capable. That’s a strawman that you routinely attack in these forums.
      The problem with DEI is that it’s inherently UNfair.
      If you attempt to achieve a quota of any particular group, then you will have to preferentially hire people from that group. At the same time, you will have to reject otherwise qualified candidates from the disfavored group. If your applicants don’t match the exact proportions that you are trying to achieve, then you will have to discriminate against someone based on their skin color or sex. That is wrong. And illegal under the Civil Rights Act and the 14th amendment. The answer to past discrimination is NOT more discrimination!
      Furthermore, if you select applicants based on any criteria other than competence, you will get less competence.

      • The debate over the FAA’s hiring practices, particularly its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, is often misinformed. Some people worry that focusing on DEI could lower hiring standards or lead to unfair practices. Critics argue that these policies might unfairly favor certain groups, potentially sidelining others, such as white, middle-aged men.

        There are also concerns that DEI efforts could diminish the skills and effectiveness of air traffic controllers. Opponents of DEI contend that while it aims to promote fairness, it could lead to reverse discrimination and reduce efficiency by prioritizing demographic factors over actual qualifications and experience. This issue is part of a larger discussion on how to balance fairness, equity, and professional ability.

        So, for the umpteenth time, whenever these concerns are raised, if they are presented in a tone that is overly aggressive, dismissive, or condescending, I remain committed to correcting any inaccuracies and clearing up misconceptions.