What does an Air Traffic Controller do?
An air traffic controller works from control towers, approach control facilities, or route centers in order to give aircraft clearance to take off, as well as land safely. They coordinate air traffic patterns to assure the aircraft are safe distances apart. They also have the authorization to change flight paths when necessary with the responsibility of keeping aircraft, crew, and passengers safe in the air. Therefore, an air traffic controller must have total concentration at a all times. He or she may work various hours, to include shift work, nights, and weekends.
How to become an Air Traffic Controller
Schools that provide this program called the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) have guidelines set by the FAA. This AT-CTI program is set up for 2-4 year degrees that are designed to educate applicants hoping for jobs in air traffic control. These studies would include reading maps, aviation weather, federal regulations, airspace, clearances, and other relevant courses.
An applicant must pass a personality test, as well as the AT-CTI program before advancing into the intensive training course at the FAA Academy. In addition, a candidate must pass medical exams and a background check. One must pass these exams and enter the program before he or she is 31 years old.
Sometimes, opportunities arise for those with little education or work experience through vacancy announcements given to the public which allows one to apply for an air traffic controller position. However, typically, a 4 year degree is required and equivalent sequential work experience or a mix of both. It would be advantageous for those interested in this career field to begin independent studies on their own along the lines of the AT-SAT and AT-CTI standards.
Job Description of an Air Traffic Controller
An air traffic controller is responsible for controlling all ground traffic at airports, to include airport workers and baggage vehicles. They issue landing and take off instructions to pilots and monitor and/or direct aircraft movement both in air and on ground through the use of computer, visual reference, and radar.
Air Traffic Controllers oversee communications by accepting incoming flights and transferring control of departing flights to other traffic control centers. The air traffic controller must provide weather updates or other relevant information to pilots and be ready to authorize necessary flight path changes.
In the event of an emergency, the air traffic controller must notify property authorities and alert response staff. Because the air traffic controller is responsible for the safety for the aircraft, it's crew, and passengers, he or she must have total concentration on the job and therefore may experience a level of high stress.
An air traffic controller must be skilled in math, problem-solving, communication, and decision making. They need to have organizational and concentration skills also. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a -9 percent growth in 2014-2024 in this occupation.