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Bell Curve


Small-Town Control Tower Controller. Salary: $64,930 

You've just become certified and took the first job you got working in a control tower. You're a little cocky. Maybe a little too cocky, you almost wrote 1100 instead of 1000. Yeesh, 600 people narrowly avoided death.


Radar Controller. Salary: $100,000 

You have to monitor a radar map and enforce the routes that the pilots originally make, like a guidance counselor for pilots. You tell them to slow down or change routes, whatever you need to do so that nobody collides in a terrible crash. You make good money but you're a little afraid of your boss.


En Route Center Controller. Salary: $122,000 

You control air traffic for the bulk of most people's flights from a center in the middle of the country. The good news: you're nowhere near any airports or terrible traffic. The bad news: it's a two-hour drive to the nearest movie theater.


Control Tower Controller at LAX. Salary: $150,000 

You're a tower controller at LAX. Your life is a hectic and stressful one, but you make bank and are generally happy. At least you're directing Los Angeles' air traffic, and not the kind on its freeways.


Approach and Terminal Controller. Salary: $180,000 

You're an air traffic controller in DC and have often had the opportunity to direct Air Force One, bringing it safely onto the runway. When people ask what you do, you say, "I save the President's life." A bit overboard there, but you've earned it.