Navigating the Skies: A Career in Air Traffic Control


Maintaining safe skies is the pride of American Aviation Industry. With over three million people flying every day, a complex system of flight management and control is in effect 24 hours a day. The expertise of air traffic controllers is the heart and soul of the aviation industry, especially when it comes to safe flying. Becoming an air traffic controller places the lives of millions in your hands. Are you ready for such pressure?


The responsibility of air traffic controllers is to coordinate the arrival and departure of airplanes, instruct pilots in taking off and landing. In addition, air traffic controllers must be able to use radar equipment to direct and monitor aircraft movement.

Weather updates to pilots as well as aircraft emergencies to response staff are also managed by air traffic controllers. Such individuals are responsible for the smooth flow of air traffic in a variety of facilities in the American Airspace system.

Types of Controllers

Several types of air traffic controllers operate in the U.S airspace system, including tower controllers, departure, and en route controllers as well as radar approach controllers. The primary purpose of these controllers is to maintain safety in the skies. Departure, flight, and landing are coordinated and monitored moment by moment in order to enhance safe flying for airline passengers across the country.

Personal Characteristics

In order to maintain safety in the skies, air traffic controllers must possess a number of personal abilities and skills. Such skills as multitasking, decision-making, problem solving, concentration and communication are a necessity if controllers are going to perform effectively on the job.

For example, air traffic controllers must be able to respond to such emergencies as bad weather and flight disturbance at a moments notice. Failure to respond appropriately could result in tragic consequences.

Education and Training

Qualification for an air traffic controller require an individual to be a U.S citizen, obtain a management degree in air traffic, receive a satisfactory score on the FAA pre-employment test as well as finish a training course at the FAA Academy.

  1. An air traffic management degree is earned through the FAA Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative(AT-CIT degree) Students may take such courses as Introduction to ATC, Aviation Weather, Aviation Knowledge and Aviation Law. Once an individual has completed these qualifications, he is eligible to work in a government or military aviation facility, airport or with a major or regional airline.

Job Outlook and Salary

Because of the intense competition for jobs in air traffic control, the occupation is set to gradually decline by 2010 to 2020. Individuals with a degree from an FAA certified school will have the best chance of getting a vacancy left by those controllers who are expected to soon retire. Air traffic controller jobs can pay up to $108,040 annually.1

1.Degree Directory: Aviation Operation and Management

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