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Air Traffic Controllers

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What Does it Take to Be an Air Traffic Controller?

Position Description Control air traffic on and within vicinity of airport and movement of air traffic between altitude sectors and control centers according to established procedures and policies. Authorize, regulate, and control commercial airline flights according to government or company regulations to expedite and ensure flight safety.

Life as an Air Traffic Controller: What Do They Do?

  • Inspect, adjust, or control radio equipment or airport lights.
  • Contact pilots by radio to provide meteorological, navigational, or other information.
  • Monitor aircraft within a specific airspace, using radar, computer equipment, or visual references.
  • Review records or reports for clarity and completeness and maintain records or reports as required under federal law.
  • Provide on-the-job training to new air traffic controllers.
  • Organize flight plans or traffic management plans to prepare for planes about to enter assigned airspace.

What Skills Do You Need to Work as an Air Traffic Controller?

Below is a list of the skills most Air Traffic Controllers say are important on the job.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Types of Air Traffic Controller Jobs

  • Communicator
  • Air Traffic Control Operator
  • Air Traffic Coordinator
  • Flight Radio Officer
  • Airways Control Specialist

Job Demand for Air Traffic Controllers

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 24,900 jobs in the United States for Air Traffic Controllers.

New jobs are being produced at a rate of 3.5% which is lower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 900 new jobs for Air Traffic Controllers by 2026. The BLS estimates 2,400 yearly job openings in this field per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Air Traffic Controllers in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Air Traffic Controllers are California, Texas, and Florida.

Watch out if you plan on working in Michigan, Wisconsin, or West Virginia. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Air Traffic Controller Average Salary

The salary for Air Traffic Controllers ranges between about $68,090 and $178,650 a year. The median salary is $124,540.

Salary Ranges for Air Traffic Controllers

How much do Air Traffic Controllers make in different U.S. states?

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary

New Hampshire

$147,350

Virginia

$139,520

Illinois

$136,390

Georgia

$136,210

Texas

$133,260

California

$132,300

Minnesota

$131,330

Ohio

$131,180

New York

$130,840

Colorado

$128,210

Kansas

$122,510

Indiana

$122,470

Nevada

$119,600

Utah

$118,410

New Jersey

$118,380

Maryland

$117,610

Pennsylvania

$115,040

New Mexico

$114,890

Alaska

$112,260

Michigan

$111,830

Arizona

$110,370

Hawaii

$110,050

Massachusetts

$109,430

Oklahoma

$109,280

North Carolina

$109,000

Kentucky

$104,890

Missouri

$101,280

Wisconsin

$100,500

Oregon

$95,570

Idaho

$94,910

Alabama

$94,370

Arkansas

$93,370

Nebraska

$92,720

South Carolina

$92,070

Connecticut

$88,360

Louisiana

$86,070

North Dakota

$85,760

Mississippi

$84,240

South Dakota

$82,580

Iowa

$82,460

Vermont

$81,630

West Virginia

$79,710

Montana

$77,150

District of Columbia

$75,670

Tools & Technologies Used by Air Traffic Controllers

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Air Traffic Controllers:

  • Microsoft Office

Becoming an Air Traffic Controller

Individuals working as Air Traffic Controllers have obtained the following education levels:

Air Traffic Controller Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become Air Traffic Controller?

Air Traffic Controller Work Experience

Where do Air Traffic Controllers Work?

Air Traffic Controller Sectors

References

Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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