Salary and Outlook
According to the US Department of Labor, there are 24,500 people employed as air traffic controllers in
the United States.
The median annual salary is $130,400.
Entry level employees earn approximately $72,760 per year and senior employees earn approximately $184,780
Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.
- Monitor or direct the movement of aircraft within an assigned air space or on the ground at airports to minimize delays and maximize safety.
- Direct pilots to runways when space is available or direct them to maintain a traffic pattern until there is space for them to land.
- Monitor aircraft within a specific airspace, using radar, computer equipment, or visual references.
- Direct ground traffic, including taxiing aircraft, maintenance or baggage vehicles, or airport workers.
- Contact pilots by radio to provide meteorological, navigational, or other information.
- Maintain radio or telephone contact with adjacent control towers, terminal control units, or other area control centers to coordinate aircraft movement.
- Determine the timing or procedures for flight vector changes.
- Initiate or coordinate searches for missing aircraft.
- Provide on-the-job training to new air traffic controllers.
- Check conditions and traffic at different altitudes in response to pilots' requests for altitude changes.
- Relay air traffic information, such as courses, altitudes, or expected arrival times, to control centers.
- Inspect, adjust, or control radio equipment or airport lights.
- Compile information about flights from flight plans, pilot reports, radar, or observations.
- Organize flight plans or traffic management plans to prepare for planes about to enter assigned airspace.
- Review records or reports for clarity and completeness and maintain records or reports, as required under federal law.
- Complete daily activity reports and keep records of messages from aircraft.
- Conduct pre-flight briefings on weather conditions, suggested routes, altitudes, indications of turbulence, or other flight safety information.
- Analyze factors such as weather reports, fuel requirements, or maps to determine air routes.
- 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.