ADHD is a common diagnosis for both kids and adults. According to Psychiatry.org, roughly 2.5% of adults have been diagnosed with ADHD.
If you are someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD in the past and you are interested in becoming an air traffic controller, you might want to know if your diagnosis will prevent you from being hired. This is a common question people have since you most likely would want to know upfront if you won’t be hired in the future due to a medical condition.
So, can you be an air traffic controller if you suffer from ADHD?
No, the FAA has a strict medical policy for air traffic controllers and having ADHD and being medicated for it would disqualify you from employment.
In this article we will take a closer look at this policy and answer some related questions on the topic.
Why Does ADHD Disqualify You?
Air traffic controllers have some of the strictest medical requirements of any job in the world.
There any many conditions and medications that would prevent you from becoming an air traffic controller and having to manage ADHD is one of them.
The reason for this is that being an air traffic controller requires you to have a clear mind and incredible focus. The safety of passengers is dependent on ATC’s being able to think clearly and make quick decisions.
The FAA has a strict policy that anyone that is on any medication that affects their mental capacity or thinking cannot be an air traffic controller as this medication may affect their ability to do the job.
The FAA’s goal is to prevent any scenarios where someone could lose focus, have their judgement impaired, or take anything that can affect their ability to do the job with a sound mind.
ADHD with No Medication
One common question is what if you have ADHD but do not take medication for it.
While taking medication will automatically disqualify you, having ADHD and not needing medication is a little bit of a grey area. If you go in for a medical exam and are diagnosed and it affects your mental condition, then you can assume you will be disqualified.
Then again, I have read stories about people who were diagnosed long ago, do not take medication, and are able to pass a medical exam and function just fine in the job. In this case I would consider if you think your condition would effect your work and consider speaking with a doctor to get more information. This is a sensitive topic that affects not only your career but the future safety of the flights you’d be helping to manage.
It is not uncommon for someone to be diagnosed with ADHD as a child but eventually not have it anymore as an adult. In fact, it’s estimated that 2/3rds of children diagnosed with ADHD will not have it when they become adults.
So, what if you were diagnosed earlier in life but at this point do not have ADHD or take any medication for it.
In this case, your childhood diagnosis should not be an issue. The medical exam is all about knowing what medical condition you currently have. If you are currently not diagnosed as having ADHD and also do not take any medication for it, then for all intents and purposes you don’t have it.
The fact that you had it as a child is not relevant to your current employment situation and is not something you should even have to share.
Air traffic controllers play a key role in aviation safety. They help guide aircraft safely in the air and ensure that everyone reaches their destination safely.
During the course of their work they are required to have an incredible level of focus and make decisions very quickly. In an effort to make sure that all air traffic controllers can handle these job responsibilities effectively the FAA has a very strict medical policy. Having ADHD (and being medicated for it) will disqualify you for employment as an air traffic controller due to this policy.
If you are interested in becoming an air traffic controller and have questions on if a previous diagnosis would disqualify you, your best bet is to reach out to them directly to discuss your specific situation.