If you have ever wondered how aircraft land and take off without crashing into other aircraft, then you probably know that there are people directing their traffic. These are called air traffic controllers, and their primary role is to ensure the safety and order among aircraft on the ground and in the air. Some of them work in control towers, approach control facilities, or en route centers.
Air traffic controllers are responsible for all inbound and outbound traffic in an airport and the airspace. It is also their duty to inform pilots of critical information relating to their travel and to guide them in and out of the airport and monitor aircraft travel using computers and radars.
Air traffic controllers have one of the best paying jobs and enjoy federal benefits including annual leave, sick leave, and life and health insurance. They also receive federal retirement benefits. However, the mental stresses associated with securing the safety of aircraft and its passengers can be strenuous. The duties of air traffic controllers require top mental condition which is why this occupation has a retirement age relatively earlier than most jobs. Mandatory retirement is at age 56 but those with at least 20 years of experience may retire at 50.
To become an air traffic controller, one must have either 3 years of progressively responsible work experience in any occupation, or a combination of a bachelor?s degree and work experience, or obtain a degree through an FAA-approved Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program. They must pass the FAA pre-employment assessment test, the Air Traffic Controller Specialists Skills Assessment Battery, and complete a training course at the FAA Academy.
Some important qualities of an air traffic controller are fluency in the English language as the foundation for good communication and with strong concentration, problem-solving, and decision-making skills