what degree do you need to become an Air Traffic Controller
majors for Air Traffic Controllers

Air Traffic Controllers

Other names for this job might include Air Route Controller, Air Route Traffic Controller, Air Traffic Control Operator, Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS), Air Traffic Control Specialist, Terminal, Air Traffic Control Specialist/Certified Professional Controller (ATC Specialist/CPC), Air Traffic Controller (ATC), Air Traffic Controller (Enroute Option), Air Traffic Controller (Tower Option), Air Traffic Controller, Center

  • $118740
  • 74%
    Job satisfaction
  • Medium
    Becoming one
  • Low
    Job growth
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Be An Air Traffic Controller: What You Really Need

In this requirements guide for Air Traffic Controllers, you will find out what do you need to become an Air Traffic Controller and what it takes to become one.

After reading this, you will be able to plan for your future if you want to be an Air Traffic Controller.

Degree required

Recommended degree level

High School Diploma

High School Diploma


Bachelors degree

Associates degree

Some college courses

Generally, employers are looking for Air Traffic Controllers who have a High School Diploma. They also prefer someone who is good in Active Listening and Speaking.

1 common question that we always get is what major or degree do I need to become An Air Traffic Controller or what courses do I need to take.

We did a survey to ask other Air Traffic Controllers what did they major in college or university and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Air Traffic Controller

The FAA sets guidelines for schools to offer specific programs called the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative, or the AT-CTI program. AT-CTI schools offer 2- or 4-year degrees that are designed to prepare students for a career in air traffic control. Air traffic controllers may also apply for positions through vacancy announcements made to the general public, when available. These vacancy announcements allow the public, with no special experience or education, to apply to become air traffic controllers. These applicants generally must have completed a 4-year degree, have equivalent progressive work experience, or have some combination of the two. Applicants from the general public should try to educate themselves along the lines of the AT-CTI and AT-SAT standards, to improve their chances of passing the exam.


schools for Air Traffic Controllers

Interested in becoming An Air Traffic Controller? Find the right schools that can help you to become one. You will need some of your details to get you matched with the right college or university. This service is free thanks to our sponsors.

Questions to ask the university or college:

  1. How many students are in the program?
  2. Is your program accredited?
  3. How many faculty members do you have? Do they hold the right credentials?
  4. What is your job placement rate?
  5. Does your school hold career fairs or other on-campus events with employers? How many employers typically attend?
  6. How many of your students have at least one internship by graduation?
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How long does it take


You may need some previous work-related skill, knowledge or experience to be An Air Traffic Controller.

For example: An electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.

To become An Air Traffic Controller, you will usually need 1 to 2 years of training which includes both on-the-job experience and training with experienced workers.

How long does it take
Over 3 to 4 years

Work experience
1 to 2 years
No experience

1 to 2 years

2 to 4 years

6 months to 1 year

4 to 6 years

Job training
Over 2 years
2 to 4 years

6 months to 1 year

1 to 2 years

4 to 10 years

1 to 3 months

Most Air Traffic Controllers have 1 to 2 years work experience and Over 2 years job training.

To increase your chances of getting a job, you can look for job training while studying to be one.

License and certifications

Do you need any license or certification

All air traffic controllers must hold an Air Traffic Control Tower Operator Certificate or be appropriately qualified and supervised as stated in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 65. They must be at least 18 years old, fluent in English, and comply with all knowledge and skill requirements.

Skills required

We asked other Air Traffic Controllers if they could only have 5 skills, what would they be. Here is what they said.

1. Active Listening what does this mean
2.Speaking what does this mean
3.Critical Thinking what does this mean
4.Judgement and Decision Making what does this mean
5.Monitoring what does this mean
= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

We did some research and found that most successful Air Traffic Controllers have these 5 common characteristics. Most of them had Stress Tolerance and Attention to Detail.

1.Stress Tolerance
2.Attention to Detail

Knowledge required

Just like any other job, you will need some know-hows to do the job. To become a successful Air Traffic Controllers you need to acquire knowledge in these 5 key areas.

1. Transportation what does this mean
2.English Language what does this mean
3.Public Safety and Security what does this mean
4.Education and Training what does this mean
5.Customer and Personal Service what does this mean

As An Air Traffic Controller, you may also be required to know how to use certain Expert system software, Expert system software and Expert system software tools.

Advanced technologies and oceanic procedures ATOP (Expert system software)
Automated radar terminal systems ARTS (Expert system software)
Center TRACON automation systems CTAS (Expert system software)
Direct-To Tool software (Flight control software)
En route descent advisor EDA (Flight control software)
= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

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Career type

Transportation Transportation Operations

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Related to Air Traffic Controllers Requirements

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Additional resources

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