Air Traffic Controllers

What do they do?

Control air traffic on and within vicinity of airport and movement of air traffic between altitude sectors and control centers according to established procedures and policies. Authorize, regulate, and control commercial airline flights according to government or company regulations to expedite and ensure flight safety.

Also known as:

Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS), Air Traffic Control Specialist, Terminal, Air Traffic Control Specialist/Certified Professional Controller (ATC Specialist/CPC), Air Traffic Controller (ATC), Air Traffic Controller (Enroute Option), Air Traffic Controller (Tower Option), Air Traffic Controller, Center, Certified Professional Controller (CPC), Control Tower Operator, Radar Air Traffic Controller

Typical Wages

Annual wages for Air Traffic Controllers in United States

Projected Growth Rate

Employment of Air Traffic Controllers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than average compared to all occupations.

Projected Employment

No Data Available

Projected Employment Rankings For Virginia:

  • 10.4%

    Percent Change

    Ranks #6 in job growth rate
  • 120

    Annual Projected Job Openings

    Ranks #6 in net job growth

Select Type of Degree:

Typical College Majors

Majors that prepare Air Traffic Controllers:

Indicates your preferred majors

★ Number of granted degrees for degree type, All, is listed after the major.

Education Level

  • Doctorate or Professional Degree (0.1%)
  • Master's degree (8.1%)
  • Bachelor's degree (40.7%)
  • Associate's degree (15.3%)
  • Some college, no degree (26%)
  • High school diploma equivalent (9.3%)
  • Less than high school diploma (0.5%)

Percent of workers in this field

Colleges that Prepare

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Skills

People in this career often have these skills:

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Knowledge

People in this career often know a lot about:

  • Transportation - Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Geography - Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.

Abilities

People in this career often have talent in:

  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Activities: what you might do in a day

People in this career often do these activities:

  • Notify others of emergencies, problems, or hazards.
  • Communicate with others to coordinate vehicle movement.
  • Respond to transportation emergencies.
  • Coordinate flight control or management activities.
  • Monitor vehicle movement or location.
  • Direct vehicle traffic.

This page includes data from:

O*NET OnLine Career data: O*NET 24.0 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (“USDOL/ETA”). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA

Occupation statistics: USDOL U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics

careeronestop logo Videos: CareerOneStop, USDOL/ETA and the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development

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