The Federal Aviation Administration employed more than 47,000 people in May 2012, according to the FAA’s Administrator’s Fact Book. Employees serve in many capacities, including clerks and office workers, airport personnel, safety inspectors, maintenance crews, management personnel and air traffic controllers. The FAA uses a series of job categories, career levels and pay bands to determine salaries for all employees, which is different than the standard federal pay scale.
Air Traffic Controller Training
Air traffic controllers, or ATCs, are probably the most high-profile workers employed by the FAA, and constitute the largest single profession within the agency, with more than 23,000 employees in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Before becoming an air traffic controller, civilian applicants must obtain a four-year degree and have work experience, or complete one of nearly 40 approved Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative programs in the U.S. After completion of an approved program, ATCs complete 12 weeks of training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. After reporting to their first assignments following Academy training, ATCs receive a salary of $41,309, as of 2014. ATC candidates with prior experience, such as through the military, don’t need to attend schools or FAA training programs.
Air Traffic Controller Pay
ATCs are paid according to the FAA’s Core Compensation Plan, or banding program. They begin their careers as AGs, or academy graduates, in Band 4 and may spend one to four years at this level with no pay increase from the initial salary of $41,309. They eventually can make as much as $137,562, as of 2014.
FAA Pay Bands
Non-air traffic controllers are paid using a pay-band structure that begins at Pay Band C, with a 2012 range of $22,826 to $34,239. Pay increases as employees move up the band scale. Pay Band G, for example, pays a minimum salary of $41,309 and a maximum salary of $64,034. The top band, M, has a range of $125,139 to $168.973, Employees, including air traffic controllers, also receive location or locality pay based on where they’re stationed. Pay bands are stepped by job types, such as clerical support, technical support and engineering.
Executive Band Pay
Executives and senior management personnel negotiate their salaries within established parameters of pay bands. For 2014, the executive pay range was $114,600 to $173,700.
FAA Banding vs. GS Pay
There isn’t a direct correlation between FFA banding pay and GS salaries, and some disagreement exists among FAA employees about the banding system, which tends to skew toward lower salaries when compared to standard federal GS pay rates.