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Salary, Wages, Pay: Air Traffic Controllers




Median annual earnings of air traffic controllers in 2002 were $91,600. The middle 50 percent earned between $65,480 and $112,550. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $46,410, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $131,610.

The average annual salary, excluding overtime earnings, for air traffic controllers in the Federal Government—which employs 90 percent of the total—in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions was $95,700 in 2002. Both the worker’s job responsibilities and the complexity of the particular facility determine a controller’s pay. For example, controllers who work at the FAA’s busiest air traffic control facilities earn higher pay.

Depending on length of service, air traffic controllers receive 13 to 26 days of paid vacation and 13 days of paid sick leave each year, life insurance, and health benefits. In addition, controllers can retire at an earlier age and with fewer years of service than other Federal employees. Air traffic controllers are eligible to retire at age 50 with 20 years of service as an active air traffic controller or after 25 years of active service at any age. There is a mandatory retirement age of 56 for controllers who manage air traffic. However, Federal law provides for exemptions to the mandatory age of 56, up to age 61, for controllers having exceptional skills and experience.