Air Traffic Controller


Work Tasks

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS rely on radar and visual observations to coordinate the movement of air traffic to make sure that planes stay a safe distance apart, and to guide them safely into the airport. Their major concern is safety, but controllers must also direct planes efficiently to minimize delays, and organize planes in and out of the airport. Some regulate airport traffic, and others regulate flights between airports. They also keep pilots informed about changes in weather conditions, such as a sudden change in wind speed that can cause the pilot to lose control of the plane.

Salary, Size & Growth

Entry Requirements

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER trainees are selected by passing Federal Civil Service tests. Applicants must have 3 years of general work experience, or 4 years of college, or a combination of both. Trainees receive 7 months of formal and on-the-job training at the FAA academy. They learn basics of the airway system, FAA regulations, controller equipment, aircraft performance, and other specialized tasks. After they graduate, it takes several years of work experience, classroom instruction and study, to become fully qualified. They must be certified.