Air traffic controller essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $122,530
- 2012, number of jobs: 23,260
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: -3 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Associate’s degree
Air traffic controllers; what they do:
If working for aviation safety and security sounds like an exciting and challenging opportunity, then an air traffic controller career may be in your future. Air traffic controllers authorize, control and monitor the flow of aviation traffic according to federal and company safety policies and procedures.
Air traffic controller careers include organizing and coordinating the arrival and landing of airplanes. Air traffic controller careers involve relaying instructions to pilots, directing the movement of aircrafts using specialized radar and computer equipment to maximize safety and informing and authorizing pilots of flight path changes and/or emergencies.
An air traffic controller career involves relaying important information such as weather reports or visibility issues and monitoring ground traffic including baggage vehicles and workers.
Air traffic controller job titles:
- Air Traffic Controller
- Radar Controllers
- Certified Professional Controller
- Air Traffic Controller Enroute
- Air Traffic Control Specialist
Air Traffic Controllers Education, Certification and License Requirements
There are several ways to begin an air traffic controller career. The requirements state that an applicant must be a U.S. citizen, younger than 31 (only those without previous experience), complete training from one of the colleges recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), attend and graduate from the Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative and attain a qualifying score on the FAA pre-employment test.
If a worker has previous experience, such as Armed Forces training in air traffic control, he/she may not need to take the FAA education requirements. Other special exceptions may apply in terms of educational or training substitutions. Once qualified, air traffic controllers need to pass periodic drug tests and a rigorous physical exam as well as pass a performance examination twice a year.
Air traffic controller programs cover subjects such as:
- Aviation meteorology
- Instrument pilot ground school
- Conceptual physics
- Radar simulation
- Air traffic control special procedures
- Instrument flight trainer
Career Advancement Opportunities
As beginning air traffic controllers (called developmental controllers) learn and master new skills in the control room, they earn more pay and advance to higher levels. The training can take two to four years to complete. In addition, air traffic controllers can also become supervisors.
Air Traffic Controllers Job Outlook
Forecast: Three percent decline in employment for air traffic controllers from 2010 to 2020. The demand for air traffic controllers decreases due to budget constraints, limitations on hiring new controllers and the NextGen satellite system, which allows controllers to handle greater amounts of air traffic. Future employment growth should come from replacing retired workers.
Air Traffic Controllers Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $122,530
- 2012 workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $151,110
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $85,350
Air Traffic Controllers Major Employer
- The Federal Aviation Administration