Which is better?

I will be in college pretty soon and I have wanted to become a professional aviatior all my life. With the economy the way it is, pilots are getting furloughed, businesses are closing flight departments, and airlines are cutting back. Lately, I’ve looked at the air traffic control sector, it has its pros such as job security, and hundreds of locations to work… but it also has its cons such as work hours etc. With going into the military being out of question (at the moment)…I’ve arrived at a fork in the road, is there any advice anyone could give me about both careers?



Becoming a pilot in not looking very good right now. I believe the industry has some where in the neighborhood of 20% of pilots out of work. This increases leverage for the airlines. With all those pilots sitting around, they can decrease pay, which they have done. Many airlines have transferred 737/a320 flying to regional jets which also command less pay. And becoming a pilot is really expensive. If this is your dream, you should follow it. But I would caution it, because given the amount you put in, you could be getting into a low paying high risk job, with declining benefits. By the way, the soft economy doesn’t look good for the airlines. Because unlike some sectors of business, people will sacrifice flying. So it doesn’t look good now, and doesn’t look good for the next few years.

The air traffic control sector is a lot better. The pay is better; yes, pay shouldn’t define where a person works, but you will pay a lot to train for both air traffic control and becoming a pilot. Many air traffic contollers are retiring; there appears to be a shortage. Work is tough, and the training takes a while, but like any good job, that is a sacrifice you will have to take. If I were you, I would go into air traffic control…

As far as colleges go, I would look at UND, which has a great air traffic control program, and of course Embry Riddle.

Some articles to read: necn.com/Boston/Nation/2009/ … 40410.html
bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid= … 4&refer=us

Thanks jgona I appreciate the advice! :slight_smile:

Just 2 points

  1. Not sure of your age, abut there is a cut off for ATC to start. I think it’s 33 but not sure off hand.

  2. My hours as a pilot we often times much WORSE than of an ATC. Remember they go home at the end of the day. I spent MANY nights in hotels, flying the back side of the clock, or on duty for 16+ hours.

When I graduated from college, as a “professional pilot” it was 1995 and the market sucked then for pilots. I’m not sure it was as bad as today or not, but it sure did turn around in 5 years, to the point they were hiring everyone. So don’t give up.

I’m not encouraging or discouraging you in either direction.

Interesting article here in the UK about ‘age cut-off’ recently:

never too old to push tin?

…and some ATC folks are starting their shifts at the end of the day - though admittedly not usually sleeping in hotel rooms away from home.