Thursday, June 05, 2008

...And That Makes 3

I just got my third radar certification, for our "Z sector". This is the sector I talked about in detail way back in February in the "Tight Quarters" post. It's a scary, nasty little sector, and now I get to work it all by myself. :) This also means that I'm fully certified on all of the NAS Whiting sectors, so all of you Navy T-34 and H-57 drivers out there, "LOOK OUT!".

Most importantly, I've now earned myself a homemade lasagna, courtesy of my lovely wife. Homemade pasta, homemade sauce, homemade everything - the works. It's one of our little traditions for when one of us achieves something we've been working on for a while. The last time I got lasagna'd (cool, I made it a verb!) was when I got my Private Pilot license in the summer of 2006.

It's been awhile. If you've never had fresh pasta noodles, you're missing out!

The Big Bucks

Slightly less important, this means I get my first raise. And let me tell you, it couldn't come soon enough... The AG pay scale sucks hard. Every day of every month since I've joined the FAA has been a challenge, a battle to keep our heads above the storming financial waters. The politics of that belong on other blogs and other sites; I'll just say that this raise is a tremendous relief.

Most readers should be familiar with the ATC pay progression, which is generally as follows:
  • OKC: The +/-$9.00 an hour they pay you out in Oklahoma City
  • AG: What you're paid when you arrive at your facility and are not certified on anything.
  • D1: Certification on 25% of positions
  • D2: 50% of positions
  • D3: 75% of positions
  • CPC: Certified on everything
For instance, if you're at an En Route center, working in an area that has 8 radar scopes (16 positions = 8 R-sides + 8 D-sides), you'd need two R-sides and two D-sides to get to D1. On the other hand, a VFR tower may only have Local, Ground, Clearance Delivery, and Flight Data. If you're checked out on Ground and CD/FD you'd be at a D3 level.

The facility level dictates the progression. At an ATC-9 like us, once we get Flight Data and 3 scopes (total 6 positions = 3 Radar + 3 Radar Handoff) we bypass the D1 level altogether and jump straight from AG into D2. For other facilities the distribution will be different.

Now, we're all government employees. Our salaries are public record, so I have zero problem posting the numbers on here. If you want to look me up or any other employee in the Federal government, just follow this link and type in a name:

AG Salary
  • Base: $33,100 nationwide
  • 2007 Locality Percentage for Pensacola: 13.18%
  • Final Salary: $37,463
D2 Salary
  • Base: $45,350 for an ATC-9
  • Locality Percentage for Pensacola: 13.18%
  • Final Salary: $51,327
That's an extra $13,854 per year or $1155.34 per month in gross pay. Or, as I like to put it: breathing room.

That sounds fantastic, but let's do a reality check. Let's compare it to what the old pay bands were prior to September 2006. If I'd been checked out in, say, June 2006 instead of June 2008, I'd have been making:

Old AG Salary
  • Base: $38,385 nationwide
  • 2007 Locality Percentage for Pensacola: 12.52%
  • Final Salary: $43,190.8
Old D2 Salary
  • Base: $57,101 for an ATC-9
  • Locality Percentage for Pensacola: 12.52%
  • Final Salary: $64,250
That's a heck of a big difference. A whopping $13,000 worth of difference on the D2 scale. That's a credit card paid off, some real money in the retirement kitty, or a new compact car so my wife and I don't need to share a single car. Maybe a vacation if we're good. I missed out on it because I got into the FAA two years too late.

What was that cheesy 80's song? "If we could turn back time..."

Anyways, okay, now that I've quoted a Cher song whose video involved a battleship and her bare ass - the horror! - I'm going to go listen to some Nine Inch Nails and Stone Sour. Maybe play some speed metal on my bass guitar with some heavy distortion. Anything to get the image and sound of that stupid video out of my head before it shatters my fragile mind.

Actually, I've got a better idea... I'm going out to pick up the ingredients for that lasagna. :)


T-34C Driver said...

Congrats on the quals! I'll be listening for you on my next flight in and out of NSE!

Wicked Penguin said...

Thanks! Are you the guy behind ? If so, great blog.