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How To Become An Air Traffic Controller

The job of an air traffic controller is considered to be one of the most challenging in the world. It is a job with highest responsibility, as there is absolutely no room for even the smallest error. Air traffic controllers work in the background to regulate incoming and outgoing flights. They also provide a range of information to pilots such as weather updates, runway related information, emergency situations and other critical information. Air traffic controllers also keep an eye on the vertical and horizontal distance between flying aircrafts. Movement of on-ground aircrafts and vehicles is also regulated by air traffic controllers.

Although challenging, the job of an air traffic controller can also be a lot exciting in comparison to the usual 9 to 5 job. It’s also one of the well-paying jobs that don’t necessarily need a higher education. As per FAA data, median salary of air traffic control specialists is $127,805. To help understand the options, here’s a quick look at how you can become an air traffic controller.

Basic eligibility for air traffic controller

FAA has laid down some basic requirements for candidates who want to pursue a career as air traffic control specialist.

  • Citizenship – The candidate needs to be a United States citizen
  • Age – You should not be more than 30 years old at the time of application
  • Language – You should be able to speak English clearly and your voice should be understood over communications equipment
  • Education – You should have at least Bachelor’s degree / or three years’ experience working in a responsible job / or combination of work experience and post-secondary education totaling three years

Tests and background verification

You will have to qualify for FAA air traffic pre-employment test. In addition, it would be better that you get an associate or bachelor’s degree from any of the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) school. This will allow you to gain a better understanding of aviation and related fields. After this, you will have to qualify in Air Traffic Selection and Training exam.

If you qualify, you will become eligible to apply for air traffic controller jobs. You can then enroll for the training course at FAA Academy. This is usually for a duration of 2-5 months.

Along with above tests, you will also have to pass medical examination and security investigation.

FAA Certification

After you have gained some experience, you can apply for FAA Certification. You will have to pass a practical exam and a knowledge test. Full certification can be achieved in around 2-4 years while working as an air traffic control specialist. Thereon, you can continue to rise higher in your career as an air traffic controller. The more experience you gain, the higher will be your pay package.

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