How To Become An Air Traffic Controller In 2024?

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Air Traffic Control is an essential responsibility in the ever-growing field of Aviation. The demand for Air Traffic Controllers is increasing and is expected to rise up by 2029. 

If you are an Aviation Aficionado and are willing to opt for your career path as an Air Traffic Controller, then you have landed in the right place.

Here’s a complete guide to help you become an Air Traffic Controller.

Air Traffic Controllers: Job Overview

Air Traffic Controllers are the personnel that monitors the paths of the flights, Coordinate the movement of aircraft, communicate with pilots, and provide instructions regarding safe landings and Takeoffs.

How To Become An Air Traffic Controller  - Overview

They mainly work in air-route traffic control centers, airport traffic control towers, terminal radar approach control facilities, and also for NAS (National Airspace System).

Below are a few Job duties and responsibilities of Air traffic controllers. 

  • Inform Pilots regarding runway closures, provides weather updates, etc.
  • Altering the Airport personnel in case of any aircraft emergency.
  • Handling and controlling the ground traffic at the airports 
  • Maintenance of the employees, baggage vehicles, etc. 

How To Become An Air Traffic Controller?

Becoming a flight controller or Air traffic controller requires different skills and different levels of training. To learn how to become an Air Traffic Controller, here are a few steps mentioned below. 

  1. Pursue a High school Diploma or degree.

In order to aspire to your career as an Air traffic controller, you will have to pursue a Bachelor’s or an associate degree from AT-CTI (Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative) Program. 

It is demonstrated that around 44.5% of air traffic controllers have a Bachelor’s degree, and around 5.4% of them have a master’s degree. 

Looking for an appropriate major to become an air traffic controller is the most crucial part. As per the research conducted, the most popular majors are as follows. 

Air Traffic Controller Majors Percentages
Other Degrees40.80%
General Studies6.20%
  1. Fulfill the requirements of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). 

Along with the educational requirements, it is necessary to fulfill certain pre-training requirements.

Following are certain criteria or requirements that you are required to fulfill in order in order to pursue your career as an air traffic controller.

  • The individual should be a citizen of the United States.
  • Undergo and pass the Drug screening and medical evaluation.
  • Successfully completed the training course at the academy of Federal Aviation Administration. 
  • The individual should speak fluent English and should be able to relocate to the FAA facility.
  • The age of the individual should be 30 or younger.
  1. Get Certifications. 

Certifications are essential in demonstrating your knowledge and skills to employers. Even though they are not mandatory, having them will help you stand out from the competition.

The most common and popular air traffic controllers certification programs are

  • Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (CTO).
  • Aircraft Dispatcher 
  • Tower Crane operator.
  • Certified Aviation Manager.
  • CPR, First aid, AED instructor.

The training in Air Traffic Control mainly focuses on engineering, maths and practical courses. It includes Algebra, the History of Aviation, radar lab, approach control etc. 

  1. Gain Experience. 

On completion of your Associate or Bachelor’s degree through FAA approved AT-CTI program, you are required to gain three years of work experience in the aviation industry. 

The trainees are assigned to the air traffic control facility as developmental controllers. With the help of experience, the trainees can advance the position over time. 

How Much Does It Cost To Become An Air Traffic Controller?

Starting your career as an Air Traffic Controller, there are several training programs and degree options available at different costs.

As per the National Center for Education Statistics, the pricing of air traffic control or aviation management degree programs ranges between $7000 to $20,000 annually. 

How To Become An Air Traffic Controller  - Cost

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the below table represents the cost structure and different degree programs. 

Degrees.Air Traffic Control And Aviation management Degrees, Aircraft Maintenance, Avionics, etc. 
Training.Training can be accessed through Federal Aviation Administration, Military or college training programs that are approved by FAA. 
Cost.The cost is around $10,000 to $35,000.
Median Salary.The median Salary is around for air traffic controllers is around $129,750. 
Job Outlook (2021 to 2031)Around 1% growth for Air Traffic Controllers. 

Types Of Air Traffic Controllers.

Depending on the different roles, Air Traffic Controllers are classified into the following three types. 

  1. En-Route Controllers.

En Route Traffic Controllers are the professionals that work throughout the country in order to monitor the flights that are away from the airport. 

  1. Terminal Controllers.

The terminal coordinators monitor and ensure the efficient and safe flow of passengers through terminal facilities, monitor curbside operations and airport terminal etc.

  1. Tower Controllers. 

Tower controllers or operators are the professionals that work in the towers at the airports. They look after air traffic and runways that are around 30 miles from an airport. 

Average Salary Of Air Traffic Controller. 

The average salary of Air traffic controllers is around $55,000 to $120,000 per year, and for entry-level Air Traffic Controllers, it is around $29,000 to $85,000 per year.  

Average Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national estimates for Air Traffic Controllers for the year 2021 are as follows. 

EmploymentMean Hourly Wage Mean Annual Wage

 As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, below are the top five highest-paying states for Air Traffic Controllers. 

States EmploymentMean Hourly Wage. Mean Annual Wage.
California 2,060$67.89$141,200
Texas 1,870$67.49$140,390

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Conclusion: How To Become An Air Traffic Controller (2024)

Even though there are many pathways to becoming an Air Traffic Controller, one of the major pathways is to serve in the U.S. military. 

With a high level of commitment and a proper mindset, you can definitely set up your career as an Air Traffic Controller.

I hope this article was helpful for you to guide you through the right pathway to pursue your career as an Air Traffic Controller. 

If you have any queries or doubts, feel free to drop them in the comments section below. 


What is the duration to pursue your career as an Air Traffic Controller?

It takes around 4.5 to 7.5 years to become an Air Traffic Controller, where 3 to 4 years are required to complete the required qualifications and 2 to 4 months are required for FAA training, and after that, 1.5 to 3 are required for training. 

What qualities are essential to becoming an air traffic controller?

Communication skills, organizational skills, teamwork, problem-solving skills, Mathematics skills, etc., are a few essential qualities required to become an Air Traffic Controller.  

What is the age limit to become an Air Traffic Controller?

The individual should be 30 years or younger in order to pursue a career as an Air Traffic Controller. 

Alvin Parker

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