ATC and pilot equivalency

Hey there - I joined the military 10 years ago as an air traffic control apprentice, I had 5 months of ATC school and a year OJT before I self eliminated. I love everything aviation and the idea of air traffic I was just becoming physically ill from the stress of the day to day work. What would you say to the idea of going into flight training? Are they too close in relation as far as stress? I have heard that the two aren’t comparable but then again I haven’t talked to anyone with both experience as a pilot and ATC. Just looking for an honest opinion before I try and end up wasting time/money in flight school.


I know very little about being an ATC specialist, but I can tell you that being a pilot can be rather stressful, especially when things are not going well. If you cannot handle stress well, then you will probably not be able to handle an inflight emergency well and that could have catastrophic effects.



My nephew is a center controller. Loves the job, doesn’t stress him at all, hates flying planes. I went to visit him a while ago. Looked cool not my cup of tea. I know pilots who get stressed all the time and others who don’t. My point is only you can decide and determine what you enjoy, what causes you stress etc etc etc.

Long short you need to go fly. We can discuss this all day long but until YOU try you’ll never know. I suggest you go for an intro or discovery flight (or 4) and see for yourself.



It’s like asking someone if they are an introvert or an extrovert. I’m an introvert so social scenes stress me out more than excite me. If you asked an extrovert, their answer would be exactly the opposite.

My point being, to me ATC would be all the stress without most of the fun (not getting to fly). Where flying I find challenging and can be stressful at times, it’s manageable, and more importantly more fun than stress.

I suggest you take a few flights, even pursue your private pilots license if you need to further explore the stress of flight training and make that determination on your own.