En route controllers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

En route controllers monitor aircraft once they leave an airport’s airspace. They work at air route traffic control centers located throughout the country, which typically are not located at airports. Each center is assigned an airspace based on the geography and air traffic in the area in which it is located. As an airplane approaches and flies through a center’s airspace, en route controllers guide the airplane along its route. They may adjust the flight path of aircraft to avoid collisions and for safety in general. Route controllers direct the aircraft for the bulk of the flight before handing to terminal approach controllers.

Some air traffic controllers work at the Air Traffic Control Systems Command Center, where they monitor traffic within the entire national airspace. When they identify a bottleneck, they provide instructions to other controllers, helping to prevent traffic jams. Their objective is to keep traffic levels manageable for the airports and for en route controllers.

Education Required
Candidates who want to become air traffic controllers typically need an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree from an AT-CTI program. Other candidates must have 3 years of progressively responsible work experience, have completed 4 years of college, or have a combination of both.
Training Required
Most newly hired air traffic controllers are trained at the FAA Academy, located in Oklahoma City, OK. The length of training varies with the applicant’s background. Applicants must be hired by their 31st birthday.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 3% (Slower than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Licenses/Certifications
All air traffic controllers must hold an Air Traffic Control Tower Operator Certificate or be appropriately qualified and supervised as stated in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 65. They must be at least 18 years old, fluent in English, and comply with all knowledge and skill requirements.
Median pay: How much do Air Traffic Controllers make?
$122,410 Annual Salary
$58.85 per hour

Careers for Air Traffic Controllers

  • Air traffic control operators
  • Air traffic control specialists
  • Air traffic coordinators
  • Airport tower controllers
  • Approach and departure controllers
  • Approach controllers
  • Control tower operators
  • Controllers, air traffic
  • Departure controllers
  • En route controllers, air traffic
  • Terminal controllers, air traffic
  • Tower controllers
  • Tower controllers, air traffic

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