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Air Traffic Controller

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What You Need to Know About Air Traffic Controller

Job 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.

What Do Air Traffic Controllers Do On a Daily Basis?

  • Inform pilots about nearby planes or potentially hazardous conditions, such as weather, speed and direction of wind, or visibility problems.
  • Monitor aircraft within a specific airspace, using radar, computer equipment, or visual references.
  • Organize flight plans or traffic management plans to prepare for planes about to enter assigned airspace.
  • Alert airport emergency services in cases of emergency or when aircraft are experiencing difficulties.
  • Conduct pre-flight briefings on weather conditions, suggested routes, altitudes, indications of turbulence, or other flight safety information.
  • Compile information about flights from flight plans, pilot reports, radar, or observations.

Skills Needed to be an Air Traffic Controller

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.

Types of Air Traffic Controller Jobs

  • Air Traffic Controller (Enroute Option)
  • Traffic Control Specialist
  • Air Route Controller
  • Airway Controller
  • Airway Traffic Controller

Job Outlook for Air Traffic Controllers

There were about 24,900 jobs for Air Traffic Controller in 2016 (in the United States). 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. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 2,400 job openings in this field each year.

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

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.

What is the Average Salary of an Air Traffic Controller

Air Traffic Controllers make between $68,090 and $178,650 a year.

Salary Ranges for Air Traffic Controllers

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
Alabama $94,370
Alaska $112,260
Arizona $110,370
Arkansas $93,370
California $132,300
Colorado $128,210
Connecticut $88,360
District of Columbia $75,670
Georgia $136,210
Hawaii $110,050
Idaho $94,910
Illinois $136,390
Indiana $122,470
Iowa $82,460
Kansas $122,510
Kentucky $104,890
Louisiana $86,070
Maryland $117,610
Massachusetts $109,430
Michigan $111,830
Minnesota $131,330
Mississippi $84,240
Missouri $101,280
Montana $77,150
Nebraska $92,720
Nevada $119,600
New Hampshire $147,350
New Jersey $118,380
New Mexico $114,890
New York $130,840
North Carolina $109,000
North Dakota $85,760
Ohio $131,180
Oklahoma $109,280
Oregon $95,570
Pennsylvania $115,040
South Carolina $92,070
South Dakota $82,580
Texas $133,260
Utah $118,410
Vermont $81,630
Virginia $139,520
West Virginia $79,710
Wisconsin $100,500

What Tools & Technology 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

Becoming an Air Traffic Controller

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

Air Traffic Controller Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Air Traffic Controller Work Experience

Where Air Traffic Controllers Are Employed

Air Traffic Controller Sectors

The table below shows the approximate number of Air Traffic Controllers employed by various industries.

Air Traffic Controller Industries

References:

Image Credit: Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol via U.S. Air Force photo

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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