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Air traffic controller? Worth becoming one?

by tom44 on May 20, 2013

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Question by Monalisa: Air traffic controller? Worth becoming one?
How to become one and is it worth doing it?

Best answer:

Answer by Matthew
ATC is probably the most stressful job in the country. If you can handle stress and preform well under it than you can be one. It is a very high paying job.

To become an air traffic controller, a person must enroll in an FAA-approved education program and pass a pre-employment test that measures his or her ability to learn the controller’s duties. Exceptions are air traffic controllers with prior experience and military veterans. The pre-employment test is currently offered only to students in the FAA Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative Program or the Minneapolis Community & Technical College, Air Traffic Control Training Program. The test is many hours and on a computer.

In addition to the pre-employment test, applicants must have 3 years of full-time work experience, have completed a full 4 years of college, or a combination of both. In combining education and experience, 1 year of undergraduate study-30 semester or 45 quarter hours-is equivalent to 9 months of work experience. Certain kinds of aviation experience also may be substituted for these requirements. You must pass a drug test & medical exam to be hired.

You then attend the FAA Academy in OKC for 12 weeks of training. You learn all the fundamentals of being an ATC controller. Such as equipment, FAA Rules & regulations, and aircraft characteristics

After that you are assigned to a facility and become a development controller. It usually takes 2-4 years for new controllers to become certified.

Generally, it takes new controllers with only initial controller training between 2 and 4 years, depending on the facility and the availability of facility staff or contractors to provide on-the-job training, to complete all the certification requirements to become certified professional controllers. Individuals who have had prior controller experience normally take less time to become fully certified. Controllers who fail to complete either the academy or the on-the-job portion of the training usually are dismissed.

You must pass a physical exam (don’t remember how often exactly) and a job performance exam twice a year.

Most ATC controllers work a 40 hour week. Keep in mind though, if you work at an overnight ATC they might rotate and you will have to do night shifts and sometimes work overtime.

You will need to work very efficiantly and pay constant attention, it is VERY stressful job and it certainly isn’t for everyone. Yes training takes a lot of time and you need a lot of dedication towards it.

Good luck 😀

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