06 November 2010

ATC Update - New Mexico?!

As you may know Albert is pursuing a career as an Air Traffic Controller (ATC). It's an interesting field to try and get into, I think the process is even more interesting than the actual work, which seems very technical and they use familiar words in a nonsensical way.

Albert is enrolled in an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program, which is an FAA approved ATC program.  Generally when you want to be a controller you go to one of these schools and take a pre-employment test  before you graduate.  Whether or not you are selected for a spot is highly dependant on your score of this test.  If you do bad on the test and you are enrolled in the CTI program you cannot retake it and the test is designed in such a way that you can't really study for it, it's more of an aptitude test with video games. 

Occasionally when the FAA is in a bind and needs to hire a lot of people fast they put out a job announcement for the general public for an "off the street" hire.  These public announcements allow anyone the FAA deems qualified to take the pre-employment test without going through the CTI program.  If you do well on the test you could be selected for the interview process, if you don't do well you can re-take the test in a few years. 

In combination with going through the CTI program, Albert also applied for an off the street hire position and took the test last December in Dallas, TX.  He did very well, scoring 99.9%.  Plus he has veterans status, so this puts him at the top of the heap of the thousands of people who applied through the public announcement combined with all those who have gone through the CTI program and were not picked up yet.

We did not hear anything after he took the test until August while we were visiting my family in Wyoming.  They sent him an email asking for the two states he would prefer to be assigned to.  If you are going through the CTI program you can only be considered for these two states, while if you are going through the public announcement they may offer you a position in another state that has an opening if there are no openings in the states of your choice.  After a lot of consideration we decided to choose Texas and Florida.  We figured since they have a lot of big facilities and airports one could be assigned to combined with the low cost of living and no state income tax they would be good states to choose.

Apparently a lot of other people thought so too because when the managers met a couple weeks ago to decide who they wanted, the spots for Texas and Florida were filled before they got to Albert.  Since Albert has really good qualifications, plus he works at the FAA, they wanted to keep him so he was selected for another state.  We were totally surprised when they said he had been selected for New Mexico!

Albuquerque at sunset

Once selected for a state you are interviewed and hired for a specific facility or airport.  They only select the amount of people needed to fill the slots so you aren't interviewed as a competition against others like a regular job interview, but there is still the chance that they will decide not to hire you.  You also need to complete a health examination, a mental health test, and a background investigation before you are allowed to go to training in Oklahoma for two months, if you were hired off the street you are required to train for longer, maybe 3-4 months. 

So we will probably be moving to New Mexico sometime next year.  After looking into the different facilities/airports there we figure it will probably be in Albuquerque, maybe Roswell.  Neither of us have ever considered living in New Mexico so we're trying to find out as much about the state as possible.  We really thought we would be living in Jacksonville or Dallas and it never crossed my mind that he would be selected for another state, although we knew it was a possibility (sort of like when we found out we were having a boy.  I knew it was a possibility, but really thought it was going to be a girl.  Life is full of surprises!).  At the same time I like the feeling that it was chosen for us and perhaps Heavenly Father had a hand in it and this is where we were meant to go, like a mission call.

My mom loves New Mexico and is really excited about us moving there, even though Albuquerque is still a 12 hour drive from Wyoming, like driving from DC to Florida.  Albert's parents were really hoping that we'd move to Florida, but are happy for employment anywhere.  Our friends Kim and Joe who are also expecting a little one this spring are most likely moving to Denver next year so we're excited to be closer to them (only a 7 hour drive!). 

International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM

We don't know when we'd be moving there.  Albert has his interview next month and then he'll have to take all the tests, etc before he gets his training date, which is dependant on openings as they have to train a lot of people.  We'll all move to Oklahoma City while he's in training for a few months, it looks like they have a lot of furnished temporary housing there that will work well.  Since Albert will have graduated from the CTI program, but was hired off the street, we're not sure how long he will need to go to Oklahoma City. The FAA moves slowly and the holidays are coming up which always slows down the process so we're thinking more like summer/fall 2011, which is good because Albert graduates in the spring and will have his job with the FAA until next fall.

If it doesn't work out he can be considered for the next round of hiring in March with the rest of his CTI graduating class and maybe be selected for a different state.  It's nice to have a back up plan :)  He has until he's 31 to be considered, but he can always go active duty in the Air Force if it doesn't work out, which I'm sure it will.

We'd prefer Albuquerque over Roswell since it's a lot bigger (800,000 people vs. 45,000) and doesn't make me think of UFOs.  From our little bit of research it seems like Albuquerque has ideal weather conditions.  They escape the harsh winters by being far enough south and the scorching summers by being a mile above sea level.  Also, humidity is low so the extremes aren't as bad as here, but they still have seasons and we won't miss out on the fall foliage (although there is considerably less foliage there, but I'm used to that growing up in southern Wyoming).  There's an LDS temple, mountains for skiing, and the Rio Grande in Albuquerque so it sounds really nice.  It'll be a big change, but we might really like it, who knows.

photos from Wikipedia

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