Don’t Have a Bachelor’s? You Can Still Earn 6 Figures as an Air Traffic Controller
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
What is the best-paid US occupation that only requires an associate’s degree? Air traffic controller, according to the latest data from the US Department of Labor.
“Median annual wages of air-traffic controllers are the highest of any occupation in which workers typically do not need a bachelor’s degree,” said Rachel Gillett of Business Insider. The 2016 median salary was $122,410, with no prior relevant work experience required, since on-the-job training is a long-term, ongoing commitment.
With 7,500 projected job openings through 2024, you might be tempted to quit your day job and switch careers. But air traffic control isn’t just a cushy paycheck: From application to retirement, the high-intensity job takes grit, determination and resilience. The application process is open only once a year, can take months, and is available only to English-speaking US citizens 31 years of age or younger who have either a bachelor’s degree or three years of prior work experience (or some combination of the two).
Successful applicants can expect months of ongoing training and evaluations, with 25-40% of hopeful ATCs washing out early on. In fact, the certification process has been compared in intensity to earning a graduate degree.
If all of that has killed your fantasy of making six figures a year, don’t fret: Check out the other 24 job occupations on the “best-paid” list. Of noteworthy interest for #AvGeeks? Commercial pilots rank No. 10 on the list, with a median salary of $77,200, while aerospace engineering and operations technicians rank No. 25, with a median salary of $68,020.
Featured image by Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees