Career Advice on How to Become An Air Traffic Controller

General Career Information

Do you like stress?  Do you love stress?  If you really truly love stress and are willing to embrace stress as your master with all your heart, then you may have finally found your calling in life.  People who don’t mind the idea of a very high stress environment might want to consider adding the air traffic controller profession to their list during career planning or a job search.  Working as an air traffic controller is just about as stressful as it gets.  If you have a bad day at work, people simply don’t get the right paperwork on time; people end up dead.  If this sounds like fun to you, then sign up now.

Career Facts:

Air traffic controllers are the people responsible for keeping watch over the airplanes as they fly from airport to airport.  Airports employ air traffic controllers to make sure that planes don’t crash into one another and land safely.  If you did have any doubts about the stress of this job, this short job description should put those doubts to rest.

Air traffic controllers communicate with pilots and give them directions concerning when and where they can land their planes.  They will also give them information concerning course corrections or alert them to weather changes that are relevant to their flight.


Career Opportunities and Job Outlook- Average:

For air traffic controllers the job outlook is about average with an expected rate of growth of about thirteen percent between 2008 and 2018.  The job growth rate would be higher, but the introduction of automated, yes automated, air traffic control systems will play a factor in job growth for air traffic controllers.  Overall, competition for this most stressful of occupations is expected to be very high in the coming years.
Job Outlook is Fair

A Day in The Life:

A day in the life of an air traffic controller often begins with a double glazed donut, a blank stare and the thought, “How did I get myself into this?  Is the paycheck really that good?”  Your average air traffic controller then proceeds to spend much of their day staring at a computer screen hoping that they don’t screw up and get a whole lot of people killed.

Average Salary:

So you might be wondering why on earth anyone would deal with such pressure?  The answer, not surprisingly, is money.  Air traffic controllers earn an average of about $112,000, with the top ten percent of air traffic controllers earning an impressive $161,000 annually.  It should be noted, however, that the lowest ten percent of air traffic controllers earn about $45,000.  About ninety-percent of air traffic controllers are government employees.



Career Training and Qualifications:

There are several ways that one can acquire the skills necessary to be an air traffic controller.  One way to achieve this goal is to have completed the FAA’s Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative; another is to have previous work experience with the FAA or military.  Overall, training is lengthy and intense.
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