Air Traffic Controller Requirements

Did you know there's a lot of air traffic controller requirements? An air traffic controller is part of a larger team that oversees the safe maneuvering and order the flow of aircrafts. The air traffic controller is highly respected in the world of aviation because of its important role as a guardian of people's safety in the air. Air traffic controller requirements vary by state and field and as such, not every school of controllers is the same.

  1. Age. For the United States, all new air traffic controllers must be no more than 31 years of age upon their start. Cut off ages for hire differ among the rest of the Western world.
  2. Language. Applicants in their respective countries must be able to speak the native language(s) in order to become an air traffic controller. For the United States, the de facto language is English.
  3. College. Generally, a bachelor's degree is a requirement to being employed as an air traffic controller in the United States. Almost all programs require some sort of college experience. One can go through an AT-CTI program that trains them for air traffic controlling while obtaining a four-year degree.
  4. Work experience. One of the air traffic controller requirements is work experience. Three years of responsible work experience is a qualifier for those applicants which have no formal training in air traffic controlling.
  5. Previous experience. While this isn't a requirement to being an air traffic controller for every avenue (obviously), it helps. Air traffic controllers who have previous experience in the field are automatically qualified for positions.
  6. Medical standards. One must meet the FAA's medical qualifications to become an air traffic controller. These standards are called the FAA ATCS medical standards or a class II medical certificate.
  7. Coursework. Many training programs require that applicants have applicable coursework that aids them in becoming an air traffic controller. Some courses, such as Minnesota's ATCT 2000, are introductions to air traffic control.
  8. Articulation. Air traffic controller candidates must, in addition to fluency, be articulate. Commands and communication requests given to pilots have to be concise, clear and abide by strict regulations.
  9. Memory. Candidates for air traffic controller positions have to have good memories. Frequent, quick information is often given to them that must be grasped, interpreted and responded appropriately.
  10. Decisiveness. An air traffic controller is constantly making split-second decisions that affect millions of people at once. It is imperative that all air traffic controller possess an ability to make quick, thoughtful decisions.

Hopefully all of these air traffic controller requirements didn't scare you away from the job. While there can be a lot that goes into being an air traffic controller, the reward of being around aviation all day and protecting millions of people is often worth it. Good luck on your path to becoming the next regulator of the skies!

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