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What Do Air Traffic Controller Do?

Air Traffic Controller Example 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.

Life As an Air Traffic Controller: What Do They Do?

  • Provide flight path changes or directions to emergency landing fields for pilots traveling in bad weather or in emergency situations.
  • Issue landing and take-off authorizations or instructions.
  • Conduct pre-flight briefings on weather conditions, suggested routes, altitudes, indications of turbulence, or other flight safety information.
  • Provide on-the-job training to new air traffic controllers.
  • Contact pilots by radio to provide meteorological, navigational, or other information.
  • Monitor aircraft within a specific airspace, using radar, computer equipment, or visual references.

Air Traffic Controller Skills

These are the skills Air Traffic Controllers say are the most useful in their careers:

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

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.

Types of Air Traffic Controller Jobs

  • Flight Radio Operator
  • Dispatcher
  • Airways Operations Specialist
  • Enroute Controller
  • Certified Professional Controller (CPC)

Job Opportunities for Air Traffic Controllers

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 24,900 jobs in the United States for Air Traffic Controller. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 3.6% which is below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 900 new jobs for Air Traffic Controller by 2026. The BLS estimates 2,400 yearly job openings in this field.

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The states with the most job growth for Air Traffic Controller are Nevada, Nebraska, and Louisiana. Watch out if you plan on working in Michigan, Wisconsin, or West Virginia. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Air Traffic Controller Average Salary

The salary for Air Traffic Controllers ranges between about $68,090 and $178,650 a year.

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Air Traffic Controllers who work in Illinois, Virginia, or New Hampshire, make the highest salaries.

How much do Air Traffic Controllers make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $94,370
Alaska $112,260
Arizona $110,370
Arkansas $93,370
California $132,300
Colorado $128,210
Connecticut $88,360
District of Columbia $75,670
Georgia $136,210
Hawaii $110,050
Idaho $94,910
Illinois $136,390
Indiana $122,470
Iowa $82,460
Kansas $122,510
Kentucky $104,890
Louisiana $86,070
Maryland $117,610
Massachusetts $109,430
Michigan $111,830
Minnesota $131,330
Mississippi $84,240
Missouri $101,280
Montana $77,150
Nebraska $92,720
Nevada $119,600
New Hampshire $147,350
New Jersey $118,380
New Mexico $114,890
New York $130,840
North Carolina $109,000
North Dakota $85,760
Ohio $131,180
Oklahoma $109,280
Oregon $95,570
Pennsylvania $115,040
South Carolina $92,070
South Dakota $82,580
Texas $133,260
Utah $118,410
Vermont $81,630
Virginia $139,520
West Virginia $79,710
Wisconsin $100,500

What Tools & Technology do Air Traffic Controllers Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Air Traffic Controllers:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft Access
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Enterprise resource planning ERP software
  • SAP software
  • Really Simple Syndication RSS
  • Flight simulation software

How to Become an Air Traffic Controller

What education or degrees do I need to become an Air Traffic Controller?

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How Long Does it Take to Become an Air Traffic Controller?

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Who Employs Air Traffic Controllers?

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Air Traffic Controllers work in the following industries:

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References:

Image Credit: Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol via U.S. Air Force photo

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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