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How To Become an Air Traffic Controller

by Daniel Pauly

Air traffic controllers direct air traffic to keep people and aircraft safe while flying. Intensive training is required, but this can be an extremely challenging, yet satisfying career. If you’re interested in pursuing this path, here are the steps to take.

Pursue Education

These jobs are highly competitive, which means you need to finish an associate’s or bachelor’s degree through an air traffic training Sterling VA program. Classes cover things like weather, reading charts, aviation basics, federal regulations and more. The degree can usually be completed in two to four years.

Meet Federal Aviation Administration Requirements

The FAA requires air traffic controllers to be US citizens. You will also need to pass a background check, drug screening and medical exam. They also demand that you finish your training program before the age of 31.

Pass Tests

When you’re nearing the completion of your training program, you have to take the Air Traffic Selection and Training exam. A letter of recommendation from your school is required before you’re able to take this test. You will also need to take an FAA pre-employment test that determines if your fitness level and personality are suited to this demanding career.

Finish Training

Another two to five months will be spent at an FAA academy. Once finished there, you will become a developmental controller at an air traffic control facility. Here you will gain experience and responsibility as you gain knowledge and prove your reliability.

Get Certified

Once you have on-the-job training under your belt, you can earn your FAA certification by passing a knowledge test and a practical exam. You typically need two to four years of on-the-job training before you can take the certification tests.

Becoming an air traffic controller takes time and determination, but with the right outlook and the desire to take on challenges, you’ll be well on your way to a satisfying career.