How To Become an Air Traffic Controller In 2022 | Career Scope Education Requirement

By | September 13, 2022

How To Become an Air Traffic Controller In 2022 | Career Scope Education Requirement

A career in air traffic control can be a fulfilling option for individuals with an interest in aviation and communications. Successful air traffic controllers typically have excellent verbal and written communication skills, decision-making skills, and work well as part of a team.

Understanding the steps necessary to succeed in this role can contribute to your success in pursuing this career. In this article, we define air traffic controllers, discuss their primary responsibilities and essential skills, provide salary information, and provide steps to help you become an air traffic controller.

The air traffic controller monitors and coordinates the movement of air traffic. They usually work at airports and are an important part of safe and efficient air transport.

Air traffic controllers use a variety of specialized equipment and computer systems to guide pilots during takeoff and landing, monitor aircraft as they travel through airspace, and clear incoming flights for landing. They may also coordinate ground crews such as baggage handling staff and maintenance staff.

Types of air traffic controllers

  1. Tower Controllers: These air traffic controllers control the movement of all vehicles, including aircraft, that are on the taxiways and runways.
  2. Approach and Departure Controllers: These professionals ensure that aircraft moving in the airspace surrounding an airport maintain a minimum separation for safety reasons.
  3. Enroute Controller: This type of air traffic controller monitors aircraft after they leave the airport airspace.

Steps For How To Become an Air Traffic Controller In 2022

1. Meet the educational requirements

The minimum education requirement for air traffic controllers in the UK is 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or an equivalent qualification. If you have not already done so, consider completing this level of education to prepare for this career field. It may also be helpful to enroll in additional math, science, or aviation courses if your school or university offers them.

2. Take specialized training

After securing the necessary education, you can enroll in specialized training for air traffic controllers.

  • Apprenticeships: There are many transport management courses that you can apply for after completing your basic education. You can also take part in a similar internship in one of the armed services such as the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Both programs offer apprenticeship programs for young recruits that take place in excellent training and work facilities.
  • NATS Training: The National Air Traffic Services (NATS) offers training programs that you can apply for. Once accepted, the institution will require you to move to Fareham, Hampshire to complete your training. The duration of the basic training is one year, and you can complete additional training if you secure a job. Any relevant experience as an air traffic controller in civil or military aviation may be an advantage when applying to these programs.

3. Look for entry positions

After completing your training or apprenticeship program, you can start looking for entry-level positions as an air traffic controller. You can find positions at private, commercial and military airports. Consider searching for air traffic controller vacancies online or in the classifieds. When creating your resume for these positions, be sure to highlight your education, certification, and qualifications.

4. Build your network

Consider becoming a member of a professional organization such as the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers (IFATC). These types of organizations often provide opportunities to connect with other industry professionals through seminars, educational events, and networking.

Certification process for air traffic controllers

Once you complete your academic training, you will be assigned to work on a tower or radar facility somewhere in the country. There, you will continue your training, which is closely monitored by the FAA. You qualify to become a CPC after completing all the necessary components of the tower or radar installation training. The FAA expects participants to complete all required training in 1.5-3 years.

What does an air traffic controller do?

The duties of an air traffic controller can vary, but usually include:

  1. Tracking and controlling the movement of aircraft on the ground
  2. Control of ground traffic on airport taxiways
  3. Issuing landing and takeoff instructions to pilots
  4. Allowing changes to the flight path
  5. Communicating with pilots and ground personnel about weather hazards
  6. Air traffic monitoring using radar devices
  7. Ensuring that aircraft remain at a safe distance from each other
  8. It gives the pilots permission to take off
  9. Keeping the level of traffic manageable for all members of the airport staff
  10. Sequential ordering of aircraft arrivals and departures
  11. Finding congested traffic patterns
  12. Communication with pilots using push-to-talk radiotelephone systems
  13. Alerting airport staff during emergencies

Requirements to become an air traffic controller

In addition to completing education or work experience, aspiring air traffic controllers must meet certain requirements before the FAA accepts them as job applicants and academy students.

  1. To meet FAA requirements to become an air traffic controller, you must:
  2. Be a US citizen
  3. Be over 30 years old
  4. Get a medical exam – and continue to do it annually once you’re accepted
  5. Complete a security investigation
  6. Pass the FAA pre-employment test
  7. Speak clear English so colleagues using communication devices can understand you
  8. Be prepared to relocate to any facility the FAA may need for personnel
    Work for three years in progressively responsible roles, earn a bachelor’s degree or some combination of work and three years of post-secondary education
  9. Air traffic control ability

The following skills, attributes and competencies can contribute to your success as an air traffic controller:

Skills For Air Traffic Controller

1. Decision making

Air traffic controllers often make important and timely decisions based on evolving factors and variables. It is important that air traffic controllers are able to make informed and confident decisions under pressure to maintain the safety of pilots, aircrew, ground staff and passengers.

2. Analytical thinking

Analytical thinking skills are an important part of being successful as an air traffic controller. During your duties, you may be required to assess complex systems such as flight operations and take-off or landing sequences. The ability to analyze complex airport and air traffic systems can help ensure safe and efficient routing of aircraft.

3. Communication

Many of the responsibilities of air traffic controllers involve effective and accurate communication. In this role, you can communicate important information to multiple teams and individuals, both on the ground and in the air. Understanding how to communicate effectively is an important part of providing take-off and landing instructions, coordinating ground crews and keeping pilots informed of weather conditions.

4. Teamwork

Effective teamwork is an important part of this profession. Often, air traffic controllers coordinate with other controllers and ground personnel to ensure the safe and efficient management of air and ground traffic. They also work with pilots and aircrews to determine the best course of action for takeoff, landing, and flight duration. The ability to give and follow directions while working in a team is an important part of being successful in this role.

5. Knowledge of technology

It is important to understand the technological equipment, radars and other equipment in the air traffic control tower. This special equipment helps air traffic controllers receive data related to aircraft, monitor weather conditions and communicate effectively with pilots. Because air traffic controllers rely on data from these tools, they need to understand the purpose of each one and know how to interpret the output from them in order to perform your tasks more effectively.

Benefits of becoming an air traffic controller

Working as an air traffic controller has several benefits, including:

1. Low cost of education

General education requirements for air traffic controllers rarely include a college or university degree. Most air traffic controllers can secure a job through practical training after finishing primary school. Due to this, the cost of education for this profession is quite low, which allows you to avoid large financial obligations when deciding on this career.

2. Job security

Another advantage of the work of an air traffic controller is the job security of the position. As long as airplanes are the main form of transportation, it is likely that there will be job opportunities available for skilled individuals. As an air traffic controller, you can find employment at larger commercial airports, private airports or military bases.

3. Opportunities to travel

Many air traffic controllers take advantage of the opportunity to travel. As an airport employee, you can get discounts on various flights and airlines. If you have an interest in travel, a career as an air traffic controller may be the opportunity for you.

4. Job satisfaction

Air traffic controllers can benefit from a sense of job satisfaction in this role. The duties of an air traffic controller enable the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft. Knowing that your job is essential to the well-being of passengers, crew and ground staff and that it makes air travel more efficient can contribute to your sense of fulfillment and job satisfaction.

5. Progress

Air traffic controller positions can provide exciting opportunities for advancement. As you progress in your career, you may be able to move into roles with more seniority and supervisory responsibilities. Along with these advanced responsibilities can come higher earning potential and better skill development.

What kind of training is needed for air traffic controller?

The first phase is usually completed through the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) approved program by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

36 schools nationwide are approved through AT-CTI to offer associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for prospective air traffic controllers.
If you are interested in entering the AT-CTI program, you should first ensure that you meet the FAA’s standards for air traffic controller employment.

Air traffic controllers must be United States citizens, be under the age of 31 when first hired, and must pass a criminal background check and medical examination that includes vision, color vision, hearing, psychology, substance abuse, cardiovascular and neurological screenings.

AT-CTI associate programs typically focus narrowly on air traffic control, but bachelor’s and master’s degree programs broaden their focus to include aeronautics, aviation management, or aeronautical engineering.

Students in associate degree programs complete subjects such as aviation weather, aviation law, basic navigation and air traffic, air traffic control technology, radar and human factors. Students in bachelor’s and master’s programs take these courses, but also delve deeper into aeronautical science and pursue computer science, management, or research.

Graduates of AT-CTI programs must receive a recommendation from their school and pass an FAA biodata evaluation and air traffic selection and training test to move on to the next step in the training process. Based on the results of these tests, the FAA hires a group of graduates to continue training at the FAA Academy.

At the FAA Academy, air traffic controllers receive intensive training that includes classroom instruction and work in air traffic control simulators. Students who complete this training program are assigned to a workplace where they continue their on-the-job training.

Air Traffic Controller Salary

The median annual salary for air traffic controllers in 2021 was $129,750, according to the BLS. Your exact salary as an air traffic controller may depend on your experience, where in the country you work and the complexity of the air traffic you manage. Air traffic controllers may also receive federal benefits, including insurance and retirement plans.

Although more people are flying these days, new satellite technology may allow control specialists to cover more traffic, reducing the demand for these jobs. The BLS projects that employment of air traffic controllers will grow by 4% from 2020 to 2030. cted growth rate for all apps, which is around 8%.

Growth opportunities

Throughout your career, you can continue to train in different types of air traffic control – such as tower control versus track control – to broaden your experience and move to new cities.

In addition, the FAA offers mentoring and leadership development programs to employees to help them grow into senior management positions within the agency.

Air traffic controllers are required by law to retire at age 56, and some may retire earlier.


Are there any certification or licensing requirements?

Air traffic controllers must be certified by the FAA, and certification is obtained by passing a knowledge and practical exam and meeting practice requirements. The experience requirement is fulfilled through on-the-job training after graduation from the FAA Academy.

How long does it take to become an air traffic controller?

There are several steps to becoming an air traffic controller, so the time it takes to become one varies for each individual.

The FAA requires prospective air traffic controllers to have three years of work experience in an aviation-related field, but this experience requirement can be met by completing a bachelor’s degree, which typically takes four years.

FAA Academy training takes two to five months depending on experience and can take two to four years of on-the-job training to become fully certified. Some can become fully certified in as little as five years, while others can take eight or more years.

What does an air traffic controller earn?

The average annual salary for air traffic controllers in the United States was $122,530 in 2012. Air traffic controllers are paid $17,803 in training and $37,070 when first placed on the job, so it can take years of additional training and experience to reach them. average salary.

What are the job prospects?

Between advances in technology and budget concerns, employment of air traffic controllers in the United States is expected to grow by only 1 percent between 2012 and 2020. Each new FAA hire replaces retiring air traffic controllers, who in most cases must leave the field at age 56.

Younger candidates who have completed the AT-CTI program, have relevant work experience and are willing to relocate have the best chances of getting a job in this area.

What are the long-term career prospects of air traffic controllers?

Air traffic controllers who gain experience and further training can earn ratings that allow them to work in more complex roles and in busier control towers and traffic control centers.

How can I find an air traffic controller job?

All air traffic controllers are employed by the FAA and all vacancies are posted on the USAJOBS website. Prospective controllers are expected to complete their education, pre-college training and testing and then wait for an application to open.

How can I learn more about becoming an air traffic controller?

The FAA’s frequently asked questions about air traffic controller training and recruitment can be accessed through their Aviation Careers website. The FAA Air Traffic Controller Workforce Plan can also be a useful source of information about the future of the profession.

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