Tower controllers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Tower controllers direct the movement of vehicles, including aircraft, on runways and taxiways. They check flight plans, give pilots clearance for takeoff or landing, and direct the movement of aircraft and other traffic on the runways and in other parts of the airport. Most work from control towers, observing the traffic they control. Tower controllers manage traffic from the airport to a radius of 3 to 30 miles out.

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
  • En route controllers, air traffic
  • Terminal controllers, air traffic
  • Tower controllers, air traffic

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