Air Traffic Controllers


Air Traffic Controllers


Air traffic controllers monitor and direct the activities of aircraft into and out of airports and along specified flight routes. They radio pilots with approach, landing, taxiing, and takeoff instructions and advisories on weather and other conditions. These reports help maintain the safe and orderly flow of air traffic both in the air and on the ground. There are approximately 22,390 air traffic controllers employed in the United States.

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

High School Diploma



Several years of experience



Business Management


Personality Traits



Air traffic control trainees start at the FG-1/2 level, which paid $21,505 to $31,183 annually in 2019. This pay level increases as workers gain experience and meet training goals. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, air traffic controllers had median annual earnings of $124,540 in May 2018. The highest paid controllers made $178,650 or more per year. The controller's experience, job res...

Work Environment

Air traffic controllers are required to remain constantly alert and focused while performing a large number of simultaneous duties. They must keep track of several aircraft approaching, departing, and passing through the airspace under their control, while receiving flight data from and giving instructions to several pilots at once. They must remain alert to changes in weather and airport condi...


Employment for air traffic controllers is expected to grow at a rate that is slower than the average for all occupations through 2028, showing little or no change, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Competition for air traffic control positions will be strong and the implementation of the NextGen satellite based system is expected to increase controllers' ability to manage even more air...