Air Traffic Police: Career Map Of Air Traffic Controllers

Air Traffic Police

Air traffic control is a career like no other. Once you?ve completed your training, you?ll be part of a community of highly-trained professionals, who are essential to the smooth and safe running of the aviation industry. 24 hours a day, they help to keep some of the busiest airspace in the world moving. The work is challenging and demanding, but it?s immensely rewarding too.

How to become an air traffic controller?

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.

How long does it take to become an air traffic controller?

FAA Academy training takes two to five months to complete depending on one's experience, and it can take two to four years of on-the-job training to become fully certified. Some may become fully certified in as few as five years, while others can take eight years or more.

Air traffic controllers should also possess the following specific qualities:

Communication skills.

Concentration skills.

Decision-making skills.

Math skills.

Organizational skills.

Problem-solving skills.

Air traffic controllers typically do the following:

  1. Issue landing and takeoff instructions to pilots
  2. Monitor and direct the movement of aircraft on the ground and in the air, using radar, computers, or visual references
  3. Control all ground traffic at airports, including baggage vehicles and airport workers
  4. Manage communications by transferring control of departing flights to traffic control centers and accepting control of arriving flights
  5. Provide information to pilots, such as weather updates, runway closures, and other critical information
  6. Alert airport response staff, in the event of an aircraft emergency

Types of Air traffic controllers:

Tower controllers direct the movement of vehicles 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 other parts of the airport. Most work from control towers, as they generally must be able to see the traffic they control.

Approach and departure controllers ensure that aircraft traveling within an airport?s airspace maintain minimum separation for safety. They give clearances to enter controlled airspace and hand off control of aircraft to en route controllers. They use radar equipment to monitor flight paths and work in buildings known as Terminal Radar Approach Control Centers (TRACONs). They also provide information to pilots, such as weather conditions and other critical notices.

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.


Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic. Being an air traffic controller is a unique occupation that can be both rewarding and stressful. You are responsible for airplanes both landing at your airport and traveling through your airspace.

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