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What Will I Learn in Flight Controller Training Programs?

Flight controllers make sure planes take off and land safely. You can pursue training in air traffic control management to enter this career field, and both associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available. Review what you'll study in one of these programs, and get more info on the requirements for a flight controller job. Check how much flight controllers typically earn.

What Courses Will I Take?

If you choose an associate degree program for air traffic controllers, your first semester will concentrate on fundamental skills and knowledge related to aviation and flight traffic. You'll also learn aviation terminology and review Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations for air traffic controllers. Some programs also include courses related to aircraft systems and engineering. During your last two semesters, you'll engage in flight simulations and learn how to dispatch flights.

A bachelor's degree program covers the same topics; however, you may also take airport and aviation management courses. Such courses train you to investigate aviation accidents, and may require you to complete an internship in a control tower.

Course TopicsAviation, flight traffic, FAA regulations, air navigation
Training OptionsAssociate or bachelor's degree, on the job training, apprenticeship
Online OptionsHybrid associate programs available
FAA RequirementsAcademy training, pre-employment exam
Median Salary*$124,540 for air traffic controllers in 2018

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Options Do I Have For Flight Controller Training?

You can enroll in associate and bachelor's degree programs in air traffic control and air traffic management. All of these programs are designed for students without professional experience and will provide you with air traffic management training. You'll study air navigation, weather conditions, flight paths and FAA regulations. Some programs are part of the FAA's Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI).

It's possible for you to receive on-the-job training directly from the FAA if there's an open trainee position. You may also gain experience through an air traffic control operations apprenticeship position while serving in the U.S. Air Force or other branch of the military.

Can I Complete a Program Online?

You typically won't find a flight controller training program offered entirely over the Internet; however, there are schools that offer some courses online. In addition to a broadband Internet connection, your computer should have updated software and plug-ins that allow you to view flight simulations. In a hybrid program, you might take a course that has both on-campus and online components.

What Other FAA Requirements Do I Need To Fulfill?

Once you complete a training program, you'll need to pass health and vision exams, in addition to a standard pre-employment exam administered by the FAA. After passing this 8-hour exam, you'll be eligible to work as a flight controller in the U.S.

Before you begin working, you must attend a mandatory 12-week training program at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. If you're a graduate of an AT-CTI program, you can skip the first five weeks. The FAA program will expand upon your knowledge of federal regulations, aircraft performance and characteristics, and provide you with the final preparation you'll need for work as an air traffic controller.

What Can I Expect To Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) determined that the median annual salary of air traffic controllers was $124,540 in 2018 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, your employment opportunities are expected to grow 3% between 2016 and 2026.