ATC to Dispatch

Kingpong12

New Member
Hello

I’ve been an enroute controller for a few years, and I’ve always wanted to become dispatcher prior to starting ATC. I got my DX cert while waiting to get picked up for ATC, when I was still a ramp agent ( which was by far my favorite job ever). Too bad the pay sucked.

My questions are if I decide to go through with the ATC to DX transition, besides pay and moving what other factors are there? Has anyone here made this transition? And would my ATC experience give me any perks?
 

Thunderbird718

Well-Known Member
I'm sure it would give you a leg up over the competition, I have a co-worker who went from ATC back into dispatch. Obviously it'll be a huge pay cut especially if you go into a regional, but if it's your passion then go for it. It's not a bad gig at all especially once you get some seniority.
 

manniax

Well-met in the Ka-tet
I have worked with some ex-PATCO folks who were laid off in 1981 during their strike. I think they are mostly all retired now, but one guy I worked with (who is now retired) said it was much less stressful than controlling had been. ATC does have a pension for retirement (and you can retire at 56), which is very rare any more in the dispatch world. However the salary at a major, I think, is now quite comparable to what a controller makes (you'd know better than me on that, though.) How long it would take to get to a major with ex-ATC experience, I do not know, but I do know that most majors have ATC coordinators who are line dispatchers, so your ATC experience would probably look good if you did get hired by a major and were trying to get promoted internally.
 

TXDX

Well-Known Member
I have worked with several ex-atc coworkers. Nowadays pay is definitely better at the majors. Dont even bother applying for regionals. You can literally apply with a major and likely get hired. You will definitely out make your salary/time as a dispatcher. Good luck and hope you do make the transition. Just don't wait too long.
 

Flagship_dxer

Legacy Airline Dispatcher
Unless you get hired by UPS or Fedex, your retirement will be much better staying with ATC. Health benefits are better working for the government. Your job security is better working for the government. You might make a little more in dispatch but will likely need to work well into your 60s or 70s to save enough to retire.

Don't let the past 8 years fool you. The airlines will have rough times and many will likely furlough dispatchers at some point. If not furlough then be stagnant for a very long time. At one point, I think L-AA had a list that had almost no movement for almost a decade.

If you are miserable, by all means make the move. No sense staying in a job you hate. But if you are not miserable, wait until you are eligible to retire from ATC and then make the move. There are people who have made the move from ATC to major airline after retiring.
 

SpaceBeagle

Located in Low Earth Orbit
I made the move and don't regret it one bit...maybe sharing my experience and thoughts might help you out a bit. It was a quality of life decision for me. My 7/7 schedule and flight benefits provide me opportunities that the FAA could never provide me. Want to go visit family, or visit a different country once a week? Easily done in the dispatch world, and that is just awesome.

I had thought about it for awhile, even applied to a few dispatch jobs on a whim. I actually got an offer, which promted me to grab a piece of paper and write down the positives and negatives of working air traffic. I ended up having the FERS pension as the only positive. I resigned from the federal government a week later.

If I had never dispatched before going to the FAA, I think I would have stayed in. It's really really hard to give up the benefits of dispatch once you've experienced them. That 4/4, or even a 4/3 schedule provides you so many more days off than the FAA 5/2 schedule provides.

It really depends on how happy you are. The benefits of FERs is absolutely amazing for sure, but a properly managed 401k combined with an IRA is no slouch either. You can make well over $100k once at a major (at 1820 hrs) and the job is not that hard at all, to be honest.

You'll have to consider the pay cut, and be willing to move. ATC may give you an edge in the application process, but be ready to give good answers for how your air traffic experience would benefit you as a dispatcher. And keep in mind that without exp as a dispatcher, you may still have to stop by a regional/part 135 supp. before catching the attention of a major.
 
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QXDX

Well-Known Member
Hello

I’ve been an enroute controller for a few years, and I’ve always wanted to become dispatcher prior to starting ATC. I got my DX cert while waiting to get picked up for ATC, when I was still a ramp agent ( which was by far my favorite job ever). Too bad the pay sucked.

My questions are if I decide to go through with the ATC to DX transition, besides pay and moving what other factors are there? Has anyone here made this transition? And would my ATC experience give me any perks?
Something to consider: With ATC you can change jobs and locations while retaining your pay, benefits, and seniority. In the airline business there is none of that. If you change jobs you go to the bottom of the pay scale, and the bottom of the seniority list. If you want to climb the dispatch ladder, you'll probably make 2 or 3 job changes.
 

Atc89

ATC89
I have worked with several ex-atc coworkers. Nowadays pay is definitely better at the majors. Dont even bother applying for regionals. You can literally apply with a major and likely get hired. You will definitely out make your salary/time as a dispatcher. Good luck and hope you do make the transition. Just don't wait too long.
Get hired by a major right off the street with no DX experience? I Don't know if I would get his hopes up quite that high.
 

Kingpong12

New Member
Thanks everyone for the replies, I still have much to consider, thankfully I’m only in my mid 20’s so I have a little time to decide first.
 

N77022

Descending Via
I got passed up on two OTS bids after CTI went out the window. While waiting I took a Dispatch job at a Regional. Applied to the Aug '16 bid that allowed me to skip the BA with a recommendation letter from my CTI school... TOL, CIL, Tier 2, the whole nine yards, finally got an FOL for Enroute in mid 2018 and ended up withdrawing after more or less becoming addicted to the benefits of Dispatch (and working for an Airline in general for that matter), namely travel, jumpseat, schedule, work environment etc etc..

So long as you have faith in your abilities to network, and pull your way up into a Mainline carrier in a reasonable amount of time, I'd say give Dispatch a go, hands down.
 
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