Air traffic controllers, also known as flight controllers, not only regulate the issuing of airplanes flying into and out of the airport, but also impart important weather information to the pilot for the safety of the flight. If you are interested in a career as an air traffic controller but have no prior experience in the field, you must enroll in an FAA-approved Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program and complete basic air traffic control courses.
An associate's degree in air traffic control introduces students to the basics of the field, such as learning how to regulate the flow of airplane traffic. Students are required to take classes in aviation technology, aviation regulations, air traffic control procedures, aviation meteorology and airport management. After students meet the requirements, they are asked in their final semester to take an aptitude test, which is used by potential employers before hiring new controllers.
Students who have completed a bachelor's degree in air traffic control will oversee the entire air traffic control system. Required courses for completing a bachelor's degree include air traffic control systems, aviation rules, aviation meteorology, transportation safety and aviation fundamentals.
Whether you hold an associate's or a bachelor's degree, all air traffic controller recruits are required to complete training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. These classes can range from several weeks to several months. Courses in the training program include airspace and procedures, introduction to radar control, initial tower cab training, ground control, radar gateway controller training and terminal wake turbulence.
Candidates interested in working as an air traffic controller must fulfill specific criteria. They must graduate from an FAA approved AT-CTI program, receive an official school recommendation, achieve a score of at least 70 on the FAA pre-employment test, be United States citizens under the age of 31, pass a medical examination and a security examination, speak clear English and complete an interview.
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