Air Traffic Controllers


Salary Median (2020)


Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)

+0.5% (little or no change)

Most Common Level of Education

Associate's degree


What Air Traffic Controllers Do

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.

Other Job Titles Air Traffic Controllers May Have

Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS), Air Traffic Controller (ATC), Center Air Traffic Controller (Center ATC), Certified Professional Controller (CPC), Control Tower Operator, Enroute Air Traffic Controller (Enroute ATC), Radar Air Traffic Controller, Terminal Air Traffic Control Specialist (Terminal ATC Specialist), Tower Air Traffic Controller (Tower ATC)

How Leaders Describe a Typical Day at Work

Air Traffic Control Watch Supervisor ,

United States Air Force

At this tower, we typically work from 8am - 4pm or 4pm - 12am. I watch and supervise everything that everyone else is doing. It's my job to catch any mistakes or correct any errors. If any of the air traffic controllers mess something up, ultimately, I am the one responsible. I keep track of and file all records of flights so we know how many flights there have been in a day and the amount of traffic.

Tasks & Responsibilities May Include

  • Inform pilots about nearby planes or potentially hazardous conditions, such as weather, speed and direction of wind, or visibility problems.
  • Issue landing and take-off authorizations or instructions.
  • Transfer control of departing flights to traffic control centers and accept control of arriving flights.
  • Provide flight path changes or directions to emergency landing fields for pilots traveling in bad weather or in emergency situations.
  • Alert airport emergency services in cases of emergency or when aircraft are experiencing difficulties.

This page includes information from theO*NET 26.1 Databaseby the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under theCC BY 4.0license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA.