So you want to be an air traffic controller

I’ve been getting more involved in the training program at my work.

For those who don’t know, my primary income-earning job is as an air traffic controller. It is, I must say, a pretty good job.

We are currently seeing an upswing in candidates for the job. And I was pondering what qualifications I, personally, think make a good ATC candidate.

The official requirements are here.

However, I have a further suggestion for a successful metric.

Are you a good restaurant server? Bartender? Short-order cook? If you are, you will probably be a good air traffic controller.

It’s much of the same skill-set — ability to remember complex things and prioritize the order of accomplishing them. Spatial recognition and manipulation skills. Extremely quick decision-making.

So if you are a good waiter and you meet the other requirements, and you want to make six figures a year, BY ALL MEANS apply to the FAA Academy and become an air traffic controller.


One Response

  1. My primary aspiration as a young person was to be a fighter pilot, but I was unqualified for military programs (nearsighted). I then headed into physics and computers and electronics, and that has been and continues to be an excellent career choice for me.

    Given that when I was younger, I was all about airplanes, all the time, if I’d thought of being a controller early on, I would have seriously considered it. I did run across the idea much later, but I think I was just over the maximum age, and at that point I was married, I had a good job and my wife was in grad school, so it wouldn’t have been worth the disruption in our lives. I would have been really good at it though, and I would have really liked it.

    Sigrid, as an older but relatively inexperienced pilot, with a thick skin, and a deep interest in ATC, if you ever want someone for your students to Q&A about “why the hell do pilots do/say X when we tell them Y?” I would be happy to oblige. I could stop by when I’m up in MN, and I could also take people flying if they’re so inclined, to see things from the other side of the scope. (The offer extends to you too, although I think you’ve said you don’t like flying.)

    I’m very glad to hear you have a good applicant pool.

    Talk to you later,

    Craig Steffen

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