Air Traffic Controller

Air Traffic Controller
Air Traffic Control Tower
Air traffic controllers’ immediate concern is safety, but they also must direct planes efficiently to minimize delays. They manage the flow of airplanes in and out of the airport, guide pilots during takeoff and landing, and monitor airplanes as they travel through the skies.

About the Career

Controllers usually manage multiple airplanes at the same time and often must make quick decisions about completely different activities. For example, a controller might direct one plane on its landing approach while providing another plane with weather information.

On the job you will:

  • Coordinate the arrival and departure of airplanes
  • Issue landing and takeoff instructions to pilots
  • Monitor and direct the movement of aircraft using radar equipment
  • Authorize flight path changes
  • Provide weather updates to pilots
  • Alert airport response staff in the event of an aircraft emergency


Average Salary: $141,110
Salary Range: $75,820 - $182,250
Education: 2 Year Degree
Outlook: Good (1% - 10% growth)
Total Jobs (2024)2,230

Education and Training

There are two main pathways to becoming an air traffic controller:

  • Previous controller experience. Candidates with previous experience with the FAA or the U.S. Armed Forces are automatically eligible to apply for air traffic controller positions. They do not need to take the FAA preemployment test.
  • AT-CTI degree. Those without previous experience must obtain an air traffic management degree through the FAA Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI). AT-CTI schools offer 2- or 4-year degrees that teach courses in aviation and air traffic management.

Candidates who complete an AT-CTI program of study are automatically eligible to take the FAA pre-employment test. Applicants who pass the test can then become eligible to enroll in a 2-month training course at the FAA Academy. The invitation to attend the training course is dependent on the number of available job openings.

After graduating from the Academy, trainees are assigned to an air traffic control facility as developmental controllers until they complete all requirements for becoming a certified air traffic controller.

North Central Texas is home to a high density of aviation facilities and air traffic control towers. Over the years many

Information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Descriptions are based on general guidelines and industry standards and job duties may vary by employer and specific industry. Labor projections utilize data for the North Central Texas region and may vary from national statistics.

Critical Skills