An air traffic controller is responsible for coordinating the movement of air traffic, guiding pilots during takeoff and landing, and monitoring the planes as they travel through the skies. They manage communication by transferring control of departing flights to traffic control centers and they accept control of arriving flights. The air traffic controller is also responsible for controlling all ground traffic at airports, including baggage vehicles and maintenance employees.
Air traffic controllers also provide information to pilots, such as runway closures, weather updates, and other critical information. They alert airport personnel when there is any kind of aircraft emergency. They use computers, radar, or visual references to monitor and direct the flow of aircraft in the sky and ground traffic at the airport.
Being an air traffic controller might be the right job for you if you have strong eyesight and color vision, can concentrate for extended periods of time, have strong problem-solving skills, have spatial awareness and good coordination, and have excellent communication and teamwork skills.
There are multiple types of air traffic controllers, including:
Tower controllers: They direct the movement of all vehicles, including aircraft, that are on taxiways and runways.
Approach and depart controllers: They ensure that aircraft traveling in the airspace surrounding an airport maintain minimum separation for safety purposes.
En route controllers: They monitor aircraft after they leave an airport’s airspace.
Because these jobs are highly competitive, you will need an associate or bachelor’s degree from an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program. You also must pass the qualifying tests for an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) training program and complete the FAA Academy training program in Oklahoma City, OK. Finally, you are certified by the FAA, which you can earn by passing a knowledge and practical exam and meeting the experience requirements through two to four years of on-the-job training.