Air Traffic Controller Salary and Job

by / ⠀Career Advice / July 11, 2022
air traffic controller

Everyone wishes to land a well-paying job. But not everyone has the opportunity for advanced education. If you have an entry-level education and wish to be paid reasonably well, one profession you can consider is that of an air traffic controller. The air traffic controller’s salary doesn’t give much reason to complain.

The good thing about the profession, besides the air traffic controller salary, is that you need an associate degree to be considered for it. The rest you will learn via on-the-job training. You might have heard that the air traffic controllers’ salary doesn’t increase much. However, the truth is that air traffic controllers actually earn more than the national average.

But this does not imply that anyone can become an air traffic controller. Indeed, it’s a highly responsible job with a lot at stake. If you are considering pursuing this profession, you must know what it entails.

Air Traffic Controller Salary and a Brief Insight Into the Job

The responsibility of air traffic controllers is to direct aircraft through their assigned flight paths safely. The controllers are allotted a particular airspace sector in which they have to navigate the incoming flights. Hence, more than the air traffic controller’s salary, you should consider your job’s seriousness.

air traffic controller take off shadow

Every sector has its own traffic controller that uses radar to perform its duty. Considering that the responsibility for safe flights lies significantly on air traffic controllers, they must have some specific qualities.

Air traffic controllers should excel in problem-solving and have impeccable communication skills. Quick decision-making ability is a must-have for air traffic controllers, and they should be excellent at multitasking too.

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Let’s not forget that air traffic controllers have to deal with a great deal of stress. There’s so much happening around them. And they have to be on their toes all the time. An error on their part can lead to the loss of precious lives.

Unsurprisingly, air traffic controllers must pass a rigorous assessment and training program. Only once they prove their capabilities then, they get to navigate the flights.

None of us have forgotten the famous mid-air collision of two passenger planes, have we? And the only way to avoid such unfortunate incidents is by ensuring that the best people are hired for the position and not those who are only in it for air traffic controller salary.

The Types of Air Traffic Controllers

Not all air traffic controllers are the same. There are types in this profession too. Let’s take a look.

Aerodrome Controllers

Also called tower controllers, these control aircraft within an airport’s airspace. They use radar approach control positioning along with their visual observation from the tower to navigate the flights. Typically, aerodrome controllers have various positions.

Clearance Controller

They are responsible for issuing flight plan clearances before an aircraft is allowed to taxi on the runway. Their role is limited to the departing aircrafts.

Ground Control

The responsibility of a ground controller is to issue safe taxi instructions to the aircraft for ramp movement and other non-movement areas on the ground. These controllers handle the aircraft when it’s on the ground.


They issue instructions that ensure safe and smooth takeoff and landing of aircraft in their sector. They also issue aircraft authorizations so they can move on or across runways. Hence, they play a vital role in preventing accidents.

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Approach Controller

He is responsible for issuing instructions to aircraft preparing to land in his sector. Approach controllers direct flights safely. Occasionally, they might have to stack flights at different holding designations too.

How to Become an Air Traffic Controller

Naturally, you must have some employment experience or formal education to become an air traffic controller. A bachelor’s degree or related work experience is mandatory. If you meet the requirements, you can apply for the position following which your official training will begin.

air traffic controller shadow outline

You have to pass through various stages to become an air traffic controller. First, there’s the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative that you have to attend. You then need to pass various assignments for consideration in Federal Aviation Administration Training Programs. The training can last for two to four years and comprises reading maps, federal regulations, aviation weather patterns, and flying clearances, among other things.

In addition to the aviation aptitude test, applicants also have to pass a personality test. The purpose of these tests is to gauge your skills along with behavioral response patterns. Of course, there’s a medical exam and thorough background checks too.

What is the Air Traffic Controller’s Salary?

The national average income of air traffic controllers is roughly around $120,830. Of course, the wage depends on the state employed in.

air traffic controller three people looking

For instance, New Hampshire’s average air traffic controller salary is $147,350, while that of Texas is $133,260. Similarly, the average annual wage for air traffic controllers in Colorado is $128,210.

Keep in mind that the responsibility of an air traffic controller isn’t something everyone can handle. There are lives at stake. Therefore, don’t pursue the profession only for the money. Make sure that you are up for the task and have what it takes to exhibit due diligence and quick thinking at all times.

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About The Author


Tauseeq Magsi has been a writing geek for the past six years. He has written about Tech, Finance, Leadership, Business, and more. He loves helping others achieve their goals, and he hopes to continue helping people through his writing for many years to come. In addition to writing, Tauseeq Magsi loves to travel and learn new things.


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