I just applied for ATC. Not sure if that's what I want but it sounded interesting so I signed up. Got a few questions, hope you can all share with me your insights or opinions since this thread is fortunate enough to have so many ATCs participating.
I may have asked a lot of questions below. Don't mean to overwhelm, but just curious. I tried to sum them up into a few bigger points.
1) What are career prospects truly like?
I understand from earlier posts that there is training and all, and so what happens after you become a full fledged ATC? Is there just one level above that, like a ATC supervisor? Beyond that, is it all management side? If it's management side, then those people will be non-ATCs who joined CAAS in managerial roles already? If you move from ATC to managerial side, will you have spent maybe 10 years or more to achieve what those who start off in managerial spend much less time getting? What other upward movement prospects are there? Or do most of you sign up with the goal of being a ATC until leaving the job? If it pays 100k after 8-9 years, it's actually pretty good. But is that a realistic amount or only applies to really good performers?
2) Are skills acquired transferrable/useful for other careers?
I think one of the first thing that comes to my mind when considering ATC is that Singapore pretty much only have Changi airport. I read there is also Seletar, so that makes two. I don't think anyone would move from either or these into airforce because someone mentioned airforce must retire at 45. So, what if you for whatever reasons you want to leave your workplace? Where else can you find work in your expertise? And if you leave for a different industry, would it be a big problem that your work history is in a narrow field? I understand this may be only speculated on if you are still an ATC. But what are your opinions? And if anyone has left the ATC, care to share your experiences? I also feel that it is unlikely any foreign country will hire you as ATC in their own land, thoughts?
3) The pay...yes, something about it.
A few google searches will reveal that being an ATC is rated one of the top paying jobs, especially among no-degree-required jobs. Most of the data of course probably is American. Average pays seem to be 100k. Not considering exchange rate, do you think this applies to Singapore as well? I guess this is somewhat a paraphrase of my earlier question of, how likely is it that an average person will actually make 100k/year as ATC?
4) Prestige, job reputation.
I'll be lying if I said I don't care what other people think about my job. In Singapore context, it matters to me because let's face it, people DO label you. Furthermore, the salary isn't very high to compensate. There is a chic factor in being an ATC, but how do your family and relatives react? I don't mean to demean you, I am just wondering about the honest truth since I may consider being an ATC although I just applied and may not even get a reply. How do you feel if you meet old friends and have to tell them what you do? Some maybe be big shots, that's one things. Others may be not-so-big, but they may boast of their future plans and prospects. Are you afraid that people will look down on you? Apart from early training phase, is the pay and respect within the CAAS about the same for degree holders in managerial and ATC positions? I ask about degree because the managerial position can only be applied if you are degree or above.
5) Social life.
Since it's shift work, will it be like going to work by yourself, end up in a particular shift, maybe different people on different shifts, and then having off days while your closer colleagues are on shift? What impact does a shift cycle have on your way of life? i did shift duties extending over 3 weeks before in NS (Protection of Installation duties). Had over 6 such 3 week schedules but all got 3 weeks break in between. And that was army, so it's like ok. But shift cycling for months, and years...how does it feel? Where a 7 day week probably doesn't even have meaning to you anymore?
too many questions right? haha, i also blur already.
Anyway, would like to hear more!
I think being an ATC really has this "cool" factor. If I have the chance, and if the pay not bad, bond not too long, would really love to do it. But then, 6 years until can read radar...wow, that's as long as it takes to become a surgeon. no kidding.