Average Salary: $122,530
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $5,115,000
It's hard to put a price on an air controller's job. Thousands of people rely on their ability to remain focused. However, the median annual wage for an air traffic controller is around $110k. Because air traffic controllers make a heftier wage than other federal government employees, they are able to retire earlier in their career, which means more available jobs.
Once upon a time (1981) in a land not far away (the United States), a former actor (President Ronald Reagan) defeated a strike organized by the Professional Air Traffic Controller Organization. Strikers wanted higher safety standards for separating aircrafts. The result was more air traffic delays. In addition, PATCO wanted more pay, a shorter workweek and better work conditions. To punish the union, Reagan fired over 10,000 air traffic controllers and banned them from ever setting foot behind their AOR. And that, kids, is why the FAA still needs more air traffic controllers.
Air traffic controllers can make more money depending on the rating of their facility. Each air traffic facility is given a rating from one to eight. The higher the rating, the more money the air traffic controller makes. Additionally, air traffic controllers make more money when they work between 6pm to 6am, Sundays, and holidays. Sorry, Christmas—really just needed to make some cash.
Before you can allow dollar signs to float around in your head, think about what it takes to be an air traffic controller. Radar controllers work in almost complete darkness. Also, air traffic controllers must be "on" 40 hours a week and during any overtime hours. This doesn't mean being non-stop funny. If you are someone who can remain alert for hours on end, this may be the right job for you.