Air Traffic Controllers

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Also known as:
Air Traffic Control Operator, Air Traffic Control Specialist, Air Traffic Controller, Air Traffic Coordinator, Airport Tower Controller, Control Tower Operator, Enroute Controller

Video transcript

At first, it looks like a video game, but this is very much for real. Each number on the screen represents an aircraft, and he passengers' lives depend on your careful, swift, decisive and constant instruction. Most air traffic controllers are employed and trained by the federal government. The pay and benefits are excellent, but the stress is high.

Whether you work at an airport control tower to make sure planes stay a safe distance apart on the ground, taking off and landing; a terminal are control facility' or an en-route control center monitoring travel through invisible highways in the sky, you must speak clearly, work in a team, and be constantly on the alert.

Safety is the priority, but air traffic controller also works toward minimizing delays. Each controller is part of a nationwide system that creates an intricate airborne ballet, responding to weather, mechanical difficulties, and all the little things that constantly cause big problems for pre-arranged flight plans.

People seeking employment in this challenging career take a federal civil service test and are examined in ways that measure their ability to cope with mental stress over long hours. A background as a pilot, navigator, or military controller increases your chances of being accepted for the federal aviation administration academy, where air traffic controllers are trained.

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.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Initiate or coordinate searches for missing aircraft.

Provide flight path changes or directions to emergency landing fields for pilots traveling in bad weather or in emergency situations.

Complete daily activity reports and keep records of messages from aircraft.

Organize flight plans or traffic management plans to prepare for planes about to enter assigned airspace.

Relay air traffic information, such as courses, altitudes, or expected arrival times, to control centers.

Alert airport emergency services in cases of emergency or when aircraft are experiencing difficulties.

Compile information about flights from flight plans, pilot reports, radar, or observations.

Determine the timing or procedures for flight vector changes.

Provide on-the-job training to new air traffic controllers.

Inspect, adjust, or control radio equipment or airport lights.

Issue landing and take-off authorizations or instructions.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Training and Teaching Others Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Transportation Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Geography Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
Telecommunications Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.