Career as an Air Traffic Controller

Anyone who has ever watched an airplane fly knows the importance of Air Traffic Controllers. They carefully monitor a busy sky, ensuring that every aircraft is safe and following all rules to keep air travel as easy and efficient as possible. If you want to be one of these highly important professionals, read on to find out what it takes!

The “air traffic controller requirements” is a career that requires an individual to have a great deal of patience and coordination. There are many different positions that one can take in this field, such as air traffic controllers, air traffic controllers, or air traffic control specialists.

Chris Solomon air traffic controller standing in tower at dusk dawn.

We’re back with another installment of our So You Want My Job series, in which we speak with guys who work in coveted positions and ask them about the realities of their employment as well as tips on how men might achieve their goals.

The man who pilots the aircraft was the last person we heard from. This week, we speak with the guy in charge of landing them. Chris Solomon, an air traffic controller, tells us his perspective on a profession that makes some men happy while making others break out in cold sweat.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself (e.g., where do you come from?). What is your age? Describe your job, including how long you’ve been doing it, and so on.

Chris Solomon is my name. I’m 33 years old and a Purvis, Mississippi native. In 1996, I entered the Air Force as an F-15E mechanic, but after three years, I changed occupations to become an Air Traffic Controller. For the last 11 years, I’ve been in charge of military aircraft.

2. What inspired you to pursue a career as an air traffic controller? When did you realize you wanted to do it?

Even though I wasn’t married at the time, I wanted to pursue a work that would cognitively challenge me and offer a nice life for a family. I also wanted something that would be beneficial after I had completed my military service and returned to normal life. I never considered doing ATC because I assumed it was one of those “unachievable” occupations that required years of training. That wasn’t the case, which astonished me.

3. What should a guy do to prepare for a career as an air traffic controller? Is there a school where air traffic controllers may be trained? Or are you taught on the job?

There are three basic paths to become a controller. The first option is to join the military. The second option is to enroll in an ATC program at an associated institution. There are now over 30 schools in the United States that provide FAA-approved ATC programs. While they do not guarantee an ATC position, they certainly pave the road. The third option is to apply for a job with the FAA directly and attend their ATC Academy in Oklahoma City.

4. As far as I can tell, there are a variety of air traffic controllers, each with their own set of tasks. Tell us more about it.

The nation’s air traffic system, like an assembly line, is split down into various roles. There are controllers in the towers, approaches, and centers, and they have varied roles at each of those facilities. It’s best to start with an example. Tower controllers typically get flights from the gate to the runway and then airborne to within 5 miles of the airport. The approach controllers take control of the aircraft at this point. Within 60 miles of an airport, approach controllers typically handle aircraft below 18,000 feet. After crossing 18,000 feet, the jet enters the airspace of the center controller and is guided to its target at higher levels. When the process reaches its target, it takes a step back from the center, to the approach, to the tower, and finally to a gate. But, as I previously said, each facility has its own set of roles to ensure that each aspect of the task is completed as securely and efficiently as possible.


5. Is getting a job as an air traffic controller competitive? When it comes to job applications, what distinguishes one individual from the rest?

Right now, it’s really competitive. For a time after the controller strike in the 1980s, the employment outlook was very good, but now there are a lot of younger controllers at the facilities, and the positions are fewer and further between, so we do all we can to stay competitive. Military experience is quite beneficial, and the college programs given by FAA-approved institutions are also very beneficial, according to my understanding.

6. What attributes does a competent air traffic controller need in a man?

If I were designing a controller, the top five features I’d include would be the capacity to think quickly under pressure, the ability to make solid judgments, the ability to handle criticism, systematic thinking, and the ability to have fun while working. Although it is not a physically hard work, you may find yourself psychologically fatigued when you get home.

7. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

Quite a few things. The satisfaction you get when you get through a particularly difficult traffic hour, the knowing that what I do actually saves thousands of lives in a single day, the individuals you deal with Those are the things that irritate me the most. My wife enjoys the reactions she gets when she tells people I’m a controller. They stare dumbfounded, she adds, and then ask the most prevalent question, “Man, is that stressful?”

8. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

The continual awareness that you must always perform above average or you will murder a large number of people.

9. How do you strike a balance between job, family, and personal life?

The working hours aren’t ideal. Because I work shifts, there are times when I spend more time with my coworkers than with my family, but there are other moments when it seems like I am never at work. You figure out how to make it work.

10. What is the most common misunderstanding about your job?

I am NOT the man with the spotlights on the ground directing your pilot to a parking spot at the airport. I don’t believe it’s as difficult as others portray it to be, but everyone reacts to stress differently. Finally, the money is no longer as excellent as it once was. There’s still a possibility to earn a six-figure wage, but such positions aren’t as plentiful as they once were.

11. Do you have any further advice, recommendations, or anecdotes to share?

It’s a fantastic job! It’s difficult at times, but when the traffic slows down and you have the opportunity to mingle with the individuals who perform this work, I’m still astounded by some of the people you meet!



Watch This Video-

The “air traffic controller job description” is a career that requires lots of training and experience. It can be difficult to break into the profession, but once you are in, it is a rewarding position.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth being an air traffic controller?

A: It is a major and highly satisfying career that requires years of training, which means you will have to be prepared for college. If the job pays well enough, it might not just be worth your time but also worth your money as well.

Is there a demand for air traffic controllers?

A: Yes, there is a high demand for air traffic controllers in the United States. The FAA estimates that more than 6,000 new jobs will be available by 2035.

Is it hard to get a job as an air traffic controller?

A: It is very hard to get a job as an air traffic controller. This profession requires extensive training, and many of the duties are physically demanding.

Related Tags

  • how to become an air traffic controller without a degree
  • air traffic controller salary
  • air traffic controller age limit
  • air traffic controller certification
  • faa hiring air traffic controllers 2021