Job Family: Aviation Air Traffic Controllers
Services Offering this Occupation
Army  | Navy  | Air Force  | Marine Corps  | National Guard

Supplemental Information
Profile  |  Career Path
Photo 1: Air traffic controller
monitors consoles.
Photo 2:
Control tower operator checks airfields.

David Martinez
Occupation: Air Traffic Controller

I was concerned about my future career at the hometown paper mill in Maine. I was married and had children. I needed some education and a job so I …

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Short Description
Every day, hundreds of military airplanes and helicopters take off and land all over the world. Their movements are closely controlled in order to prevent accidents. Air traffic controllers direct the movement of aircraft into and out of military airfields. They track aircraft by radar and give voice instructions by radio.


What They Do
Air traffic controllers in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Operate radio equipment to issue takeoff, flight, and landing instructions
  • Relay weather reports, airfield conditions, and safety information to pilots
  • Use radar equipment to track aircraft in flight
  • Plot airplane locations on charts and maps
  • Compute speed, direction, and altitude of aircraft
  • Maintain air traffic control records and communication logs

Helpful Attributes
Helpful school subjects include general mathematics, English, and typing. Helpful attributes include:
  • Ability to make quick, decisive judgments
  • Ability to work under stress
  • Skill in math computation

Training Provided
Job training consists of classroom instruction. Training length varies depending on specialty. Additional training occurs on the job. Aircraft carrier air traffic controllers receive specialized training. Course content typically includes:
  • Air traffic control fundamentals
  • Visual and instrument flight procedures
  • Radar and other landing approach procedures
  • Communication procedures

Work Environment
Air traffic controllers work in land-based and shipboard control centers.


Civilian Counterparts
Civilian air traffic controllers work for the FAA in airports and control centers around the country. They perform duties similar to military air traffic controllers. They may specialize in specific areas, such as aircraft arrivals, departures, ground control, or en route flights.

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