How Much Does IT Cost to Be an Air Traffic Controller?
There are several paths to becoming an air traffic controller, each having different costs. Read on to explore the varied training, experience and education options, and get more information about career requirements.
What You Need to Know
You can begin a career as an air traffic controller through training programs offered by the FAA, through military training, or through colleges. There are several degree options available to you. Tuition varies according to the school and degree that you choose to pursue, and may include special fees, depending on your choices.
|Training||Training is available through the FAA, the military, or a college training program approved of by the FAA|
|Degrees||Avionics, aircraft maintenance, air traffic control and aviation management degrees are available|
|Cost (60 Credits)||$10,000 - $35,000|
Ways of Becoming an Air Traffic Controller
There are several ways to become an air traffic controller. One pathway to becoming an air traffic controller is to serve in the U.S. military. The military provides one of the most cost-effective routes, as career training is part of your military service. Another option is to apply to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Academy. Three years of full-time work experience (in any field) or successful completion of a 4-year college program (in any major) is required. If accepted, you'll then be provided training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, OK. A third option is attending a Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) aviation program approved by the FAA.
Schools for Air Traffic Controllers
The FAA offers a complete list of approved schools for air traffic control training on their website faa.gov. Approved schools are available in most regions of the country. Some approved schools include:
- Arizona State University (Mesa, Arizona)
- Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
- Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana)
- Western Michigan University (Battle Creek, Michigan)
- University of Alaska Anchorage (Anchorage, Alaska)
- Sacramento City College (Sacramento, California)
Degree Program Options
Degrees that can prepare you for an air traffic control career include avionics, aircraft maintenance, air traffic control and aviation management. Schools commonly offer degrees in air traffic control along with other aviation-related areas. Some degrees offer coursework in business management with an emphasis on the commercial airline industry.
What Courses Will I Take?
Air traffic control training focuses on math, engineering and practical courses. Some of the courses you may take include:
- flight lab
- history of aviation
- aviation meteorology
- radar lab
- approach control
Tuition and fees vary from school to school and program to program. For example, if you're seeking an aviation degree that includes learning to fly, you'll pay fees for flight labs which can cost $2,000. Private pilot licenses will usually cost more than $5,000. Some schools require you to have funds in your account before being allowed to participate in flight training. The cost for tuition also varies, so it's a good idea to shop around for the best deal. If you're concerned about quality because a school may have a significantly lower tuition fee, remember that the FAA must approve all CTI programs.
Tuition and fees vary considerably by residency status. State colleges typically charge 100% or more for non-residents per academic year. You'll want to carefully study the associated fees school by school. You could potentially save money by choosing a college that doesn't have a lot of extra fees. Fees to look for are room and board, simulator fees, lab fees, textbook fees, general studies fees and technology fees. Housing fees can run as much as $3,000 per semester. For a 2-year CTI associate's degree, tuition and fees for residents could cost around $10,000 for 60 credits. For non-residents, tuition and fees could be upwards of $30,000.
What Else Should I Know?
You must complete training before turning 31. Air Traffic control is a high-stress occupation, so you'll need to have a good memory, be able to make decisions quickly and have the ability to work in an environment that can be noisy with a lot of activity. You'll need a good grasp of the English language, which is the international language used. You'll be subject to drug tests and background checks. A physical exam is required each year. You'll also need to provide a list of any medications you are currently using.