Air Traffic Controller Salary
The Median Salary of an Air Traffic Controller is $124,540 as of 2017. There are several variables that can allow effect this. Learn more in this article.
When most people think of the job of an air traffic controller, they think of one of the most stressful jobs in the world. For that amount of stress and responsibility, you would hope the job paid really well. Well, it turns out an experienced air traffic controller has a great salary in a career that is very much in demand
Air traffic controllers help guide the traffic of airplanes both in the sky and on the ground. They coordinate this traffic to make sure flights can safely take off, travel to their destinations, and land. They use software that helps in managing this process and can predict where planes are heading as well as see where they are.
They communicate with pilots by radio to let them know when they can take off or land and with airport personnel to administer things on the ground. There are different roles among air traffic controllers. Some work to make sure a proper distance between planes when they are getting ready to take off or land. Others work in airports helping pilots that are flying get to their destination.
Before you can go down the path to becoming an air traffic controller, you have to make sure you meet the requirements of the job. Those include:
- Be age 30 or under
- Pass a criminal background check
- Be a U.S. Citizen
- Pass a medical exam (exams include hearing, vision, psychological, cardiovascular, neurological, and substance abuse)
- Be fluent in English
- Have 3 years of progressively responsible work history or a 4 year college degree.
If you meet these requirements, you can continue on to begin the process of going through the training program for the position.
Training and Education
As you can imagine, the training for this career is demanding and not everyone is cut out for it. Once you have applied for and are accepted into the program, you’ll first have to devote time to studying and training so that you can pass the initial skills assessment. This is done at a Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative school. There are 36 around the country.
Assuming you graduate from that program and are given a recommendation, you will then move onto the second phase of training. That will include taking more assessments and studying at the FAA Academy. Here, you will get much more in depth training both in a classroom setting and in a simulator.
After graduating from this program, you would be placed to begin working and continuing your training as you grow in your career.
Starting Pay for a brand new air traffic controller that just graduated from the academy is in the range of $45,000. Like many careers, the beginning pay is much lower than what it will be once you have some experience. In fact, in this job the pay increases substantially as you gain experience.
For example, a starting salary is in the range of $45,000 but by the time you are a level 3 your salary will be in the range of $65,000 to $99,000.
Once you have been in the role longer and are an experienced air traffic controller, you can expect to surpass the average salary and work towards the top tier of earners in this field. In this case, the top 10% of earners make in the range of $175,800.
Another benefit to this career is that you are eligible for full retirement once you’re 50 years old if you have 20 years on the job. Due to the high pressure and stress of the job, all air traffic controllers are required to retire at 56.
A Day in the Life
Being an air traffic controller is considered one of the most stressful and demanding jobs there is. Many report that just working a regular schedule of five 8-hour work days can be mentally exhausting. These shifts are also often not only during the day but can include over night shifts, early mornings, and sometimes only getting 9 hours off in between finishing one shift and starting another.
One thing is for certain – this is a career that takes extreme dedication.
Where Can I Learn More?
If being an air traffic controller is something that interests you, you should look into getting more information on the role as well as what steps you would have to take to get started in working towards getting hired. A great place to start is the FAA’s website. They have a specific page with resources for those interested in this potential career. You can find that page here.
Being an air traffic controller is a well respected career that requires a lot a training and education due to the high level of responsibility the role requires. Air traffic controllers are paid a great salary and deserve every dollar.