Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Air Traffic Controllers

What Air Traffic Controllers Do

Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic to ensure that aircraft stay safe distances apart.

Work Environment

Air traffic controllers work in control towers, approach control facilities, or route centers. Their work can be stressful because total concentration is required at all times. Night, weekend, and rotating shifts are common.

How to Become an Air Traffic Controller

A prospective air traffic controller must be a U.S citizen. In addition, the applicant must have a bachelor’s degree, or work experience, or a combination of education and experience totaling 3 years. There are medical and background checks to pass, along with exams and a course at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) academy.

Job Outlook

Employment of air traffic controllers is projected to decline 9 percent from 2014 to 2024. Most employment opportunities will result from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the occupation.

Growth & Trends

This occupation supported 25,000 jobs in 2012 and 24,500 jobs in 2014, reflecting a decline of 2.0%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 1.6% in 2022 to 25,400 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 25,000, compared with an observed value of 24,500, 2.0% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to decrease by 8.4% in 2024 to 22,400 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 25,400 jobs for 2024, 13.4% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.

Air Traffic Controllers Employment and Labor Information 2023

Air Traffic Controllers Employment Brief:

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.

Air Traffic Controllers Job Description

Here is a Job Description an employer might post for potential Air Traffic Controllers.

Air Traffic Controllers Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Relay air traffic information, such as courses, altitudes, or expected arrival times, to control centers.
  • Monitor aircraft within a specific airspace, using radar, computer equipment, or visual references.
  • Complete daily activity reports and keep records of messages from aircraft.
  • Inform pilots about nearby planes or potentially hazardous conditions, such as weather, speed and direction of wind, or visibility problems.
  • Compile information about flights from flight plans, pilot reports, radar, or observations.
  • Check conditions and traffic at different altitudes in response to pilots' requests for altitude changes.
  • Inspect, adjust, or control radio equipment or airport lights.
  • Organize flight plans or traffic management plans to prepare for planes about to enter assigned airspace.
  • Analyze factors such as weather reports, fuel requirements, or maps to determine air routes.
  • Issue landing and take-off authorizations or instructions.

Typical Daily Tasks of Air Traffic Controllers:

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems: Choose optimal transportation routes or speeds.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events.
  • Getting Information.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings: Monitor surroundings to detect potential hazards. Monitor vehicle movement or location.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates: Communicate with others to coordinate vehicle movement. Meet with coworkers to communicate work orders or plans. Notify others of emergencies, problems, or hazards.
  • Processing Information: Compile operational data.
  • Training and Teaching Others: Train transportation or material moving personnel.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge.
  • Analyzing Data or Information.
  • Thinking Creatively.

Air Traffic Controllers Skills and Requirements:

  • Systems Evaluation Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Negotiation Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Operations Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • SpreadsheetsUsing a computer application to enter, manipulate, and format text and numerical data; insert, delete, and manipulate cells, rows, and columns; and create and save worksheets, charts, and graphs.
  • Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • GraphicsWorking with pictures in graphics programs or other applications, including creating simple graphics, manipulating the appearance, and inserting graphics into other programs.

Air Traffic Controllers Education and Training:

Typical education for include: Associate's degree.

Air Traffic Controllers Salary, Wages, and Salary and Job Outlook

Air Traffic Controllers average pay is: $132250 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employees who work in NAare the highest paid making $65.41, while Management of Companies and Enterprises make the least at $31.96 per hour.Here are the top city/metro areas with the highest paying salaries for a Air Traffic Controllers:


Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

Employment per thousand jobs

Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA




Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX




Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI




Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA




Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH



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