Air Traffic Controllers

Control air traffic on and within vicinity of airport and movement of air traffic between altitude sectors and control centers according to established procedures and policies. Authorize, regulate, and control commercial airline flights according to government or company regulations to expedite and ensure flight safety.

Median Annual Wage: $122,340

Education: High school diploma or equivalent (36%); Post-secondary certificate (21%); Bachelor's degree (20%)

Projected Growth: Little or no change (-2% to 2%)

Related Job Titles: Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS); Certified Professional Controller (CPC); Air Traffic Controller (Enroute Option); Air Traffic Controller (Tower Option); Air Traffic Control Specialist, Terminal; Air Traffic Control Specialist/Certified Professional Controller (ATC Specialist/CPC); Air Traffic Controller (ATC); Air Traffic Controller, Center; Control Tower Operator; Radar Air Traffic Controller

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Source: O*NET OnLine information for Air Traffic Controllers.

More Transportation and Material Moving Careers

  • Issue landing and take-off authorizations or instructions.
  • Transfer control of departing flights to traffic control centers and accept control of arriving flights.
  • Provide flight path changes or directions to emergency landing fields for pilots traveling in bad weather or in emergency situations.
  • Alert airport emergency services in cases of emergency or when aircraft are experiencing difficulties.
  • Monitor aircraft within a specific airspace, using radar, computer equipment, or visual references.
  • Direct pilots to runways when space is available or direct them to maintain a traffic pattern until there is space for them to land.
  • Monitor or direct the movement of aircraft within an assigned air space or on the ground at airports to minimize delays and maximize safety.
  • Direct ground traffic, including taxiing aircraft, maintenance or baggage vehicles, or airport workers.
  • Contact pilots by radio to provide meteorological, navigational, or other information.
  • Maintain radio or telephone contact with adjacent control towers, terminal control units, or other area control centers to coordinate aircraft movement.
  • Determine the timing or procedures for flight vector changes.
  • Initiate or coordinate searches for missing aircraft.
  • Provide on-the-job training to new air traffic controllers.
  • Check conditions and traffic at different altitudes in response to pilots' requests for altitude changes.
  • Relay air traffic information, such as courses, altitudes, or expected arrival times, to control centers.
  • Inspect, adjust, or control radio equipment or airport lights.
  • Compile information about flights from flight plans, pilot reports, radar, or observations.
  • Organize flight plans or traffic management plans to prepare for planes about to enter assigned airspace.
  • Review records or reports for clarity and completeness and maintain records or reports as required under federal law.
  • Complete daily activity reports and keep records of messages from aircraft.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Air Traffic Controllers.

  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Air Traffic Controllers.

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