What Does it Take to Be an Air Traffic Controller?
Occupation 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.
Daily Life Of an Air Traffic Controller
- Determine the timing or procedures for flight vector changes.
- Review records or reports for clarity and completeness and maintain records or reports as required under federal law.
- Monitor or direct the movement of aircraft within an assigned air space or on the ground at airports to minimize delays and maximize safety.
- Organize flight plans or traffic management plans to prepare for planes about to enter assigned airspace.
- Maintain radio or telephone contact with adjacent control towers, terminal control units, or other area control centers to coordinate aircraft movement.
- Relay air traffic information, such as courses, altitudes, or expected arrival times, to control centers.
Air Traffic Controller Required Skills
Air Traffic Controllers state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.
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.
Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Related Job Titles for this Occupation:
- Airway Traffic Controller
- Air Traffic Control Operator
- Airport Tower Controller
- Flight Radio Operator
- Air Traffic Controller (ATC)
Job Demand for Air Traffic Controllers
In the United States, there were 24,900 jobs for Air Traffic Controller in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 3.6% which is below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 900 new jobs for Air Traffic Controller by 2026. The BLS estimates 2,400 yearly job openings in this field.
The states with the most job growth for Air Traffic Controller are Nevada, Nebraska, and Louisiana. 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.
How Much Does an Air Traffic Controller Make?
The salary for Air Traffic Controllers ranges between about $68,090 and $178,650 a year.
Air Traffic Controllers who work in Illinois, Virginia, or New Hampshire, make the highest salaries.
How much do Air Traffic Controllers make in each U.S. state?
|State||Annual Mean Salary|
|District of Columbia||$75,670|
What Tools do Air Traffic Controllers Use?
Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Air Traffic Controllers:
- Microsoft Excel
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Office
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Microsoft Outlook
- Microsoft Access
- Adobe Acrobat
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software
- SAP software
- Really Simple Syndication RSS
- Flight simulation software
How to Become an Air Traffic Controller
Are there Air Traffic Controllers education requirements?
How Long Does it Take to Become an Air Traffic Controller?
Air Traffic Controllers Sector
Below are examples of industries where Air Traffic Controllers work:
More about our data sources and methodologies.
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