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Air Traffic Controller

Earnings Potential

The earnings potential for an Air Traffic Controller is quite high. The average starting salary is $46,410 for entry-level air traffic controllers and the median salary for this profession is $102,030. According to, the middle 50 percent of air traffic controllers earn between $78,170 and $126,260 and the lowest earned about $57,720. High-level Air Traffic Controllers make the highest salaries earning more than $139,210. (

Facts at a Glance

  • Prospective air traffic controllers need to pass a basic exam and interview, security clearance and a medical exam.
  • It is a good idea to ask to visit an air traffic control center or tower, to learn about the different learning opportunities in your area. 
  • Air Traffic Control services are available to all users including military, private, and commercial.
  • All Air Traffic Controller’s are just about employed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Summary of what this career entails

Air Traffic Controllers usually work 40 hours per week but they may have to work overtime, nights, and weekends especially in during busy times. Since most control towers are open 24 hours, 7 days a week, workers have to rotate to work nights and weekends. There is also mental stress that gets put on air traffic controllers because it is their responsibility to ensure the safety of many aircrafts and passengers.  

Examples and or Details of Work

Air traffic controllers work either at en route centers or at airports. They often work in a glassed-in tower, from which they direct traffic as it approaches to the airport. Those at en route centers in more remote areas are removed from the airport.  Air traffic controllers work together, in teams. As airports are in service 24 hours a day, so are the air traffic controllers, who are assigned to work shifts on weekends, in the middle of the night, and on holidays.

Degrees that Lead to this Career

A high school diploma is required; it is also a good idea to pursue a university degree. Some of the degrees you can obtain include:

  • A.A.S. in Air Traffic Control Enroute
  • A.A.S. in Air Traffic Control
  • B.S. in Aviation Technology – Air Traffic Control
  • B.S. in Air Traffic Management
  • B.S. in Airport Management

Specific Career Openings in this Field

There are many job opportunities for people that are looking for a career as Air Traffic Controllers; you can secure a job as enroute controller, terminal controller, airport tower controller, or a fight service specialist.