Being an air traffic controller is one of the most stressful jobs. These men and women guide air traffic on the ground and in the air. They tell the pilots when and where they can take off and land and monitor all planes once in their air space.
Your air traffic controller job description should stress a candidate’s ability to multitask, as the controllers also direct baggage vehicles and other ground traffic. Those interested in this vocation should have a bachelor’s degree, qualifying work experience, or a combination of both for three years.
Applicants must submit to an extensive background check and medical examination. Requisite FAA testing includes a pre-employment test, Air Traffic Standardized Aptitude Test and FAA Academy training prior to the controller’s 31st birthday. Review the air traffic controller job description below for an idea of what your posting should include.
Air Traffic Controller Job Summary
Calling Superman or Supergirl! We need people with nerves of steel to enter into the dynamic field of air traffic control. You will be the person in charge of directing ground and air traffic to and from the airport and in the sky. You won’t need heat vision, but you will need superhuman endurance and reflexes to ensure everyone on the ground and in the air remains safe. If your family and friends marvel at your technical shrewdness and ability to multitask, this is the job for you. You’ll feel as if you’re flying the planes yourself, and in a sense, you are. Without you, there would be disaster in the air and on ground, so utilize your superhuman abilities to keep everyone safe and sound.
- Instruct pilots when they can take off and land, and what runway and gate they are authorized to use daily; direct ground traffic as well, including baggage carts and ground personnel
- Update pilots of hazardous conditions prior to and during flights, including visibility, weather and wind concerns when necessary
- Redirect flight path of aircraft or redirect to a temporary landing facility to avoid hazardous conditions when necessary
- Direct pilots, land crews and airport emergency services toward cleared landing space in the event an airplane is experiencing difficulties, or in the event of an actual crash at the airport or elsewhere
- Monitor air space traffic using radar, computer and other air traffic control equipment to keep airplanes departing and arriving on time and to maximize air and ground safety
- Turn over air traffic control to appropriate centers once airplanes leave designated air space, and accept new air traffic that enters into designated air space
- Maintain consistent ground traffic pattern for continual flow of departing and arriving flights
- Initiate searches for aircrafts that drop or veer off radar and go missing
Job Skills and Qualifications
- Bachelor’s degree or associate degree, plus on-the-job training for three years
- Extensive background check, medical examination and FAA testing
- Aircraft communication systems, e.g. CPDC, HF/UHF/VHF radio, beacon markers
- Navigation systems, e.g. RNAV, ADF radio, DGPS surveillance, DME, GPS
- Radar systems, e.g. ARSR, ASDE, DASR, Mode S
- Flight control software, e.g. EDA, EDP, FAST
- Flight simulation software
Air Traffic Controller Job Responsibilities
Air Traffic Controllers are typically accountable for many different tasks simultaneously, so it is important to convey this in the job responsibilities section of your air traffic controller job description. While there are a variety of distinct duties someone in this position will need to perform, mentioning that controllers have to deal with some of these responsibilities at the same time can help candidates understand the rigor of the requirements.
Because each task is unique, use bullet points to separate them for the readers. This format allows possible candidates to identify the duties easily and makes your air traffic controller job description look professional. Use action verbs to start each point as a way to encourage readers to imagine being in the role, and be as specific as possible about any technical responsibilities to give potential applicants a realistic idea of a controller’s duties. Keep your list between six and eight bullet points. This length is enough to inform the reader accurately without making the position seem overly complicated.
Read over these air traffic controller job responsibilities for examples of what to include in your posting:
- Issue instructions to pilots about when and where to take off and land
- Inform pilots of changes in weather patterns, flight paths and designated runways
- Monitor and direct all aircraft both grounded and airborne using radar, computers and other technology
- Alert the appropriate response teams in emergency situations
Air Traffic Controller Job Specifications
The skills necessary to be an air traffic controller are very specific, which can make it less complicated to write the job qualifications and skills section of your air traffic controller job description. When you create a precise list of necessary abilities, you can tailor your job description to the most qualified candidates.
This section is an excellent place to inform readers of the non-technical skills that are not required but are certainly helpful on the job. You can do this by writing one list of necessary prerequisites and another of preferred skills. That way you entice ideal candidates without eliminating applicants who may be properly qualified.
It may be helpful to sit down with other managers or department heads to discuss exactly what to include in these lists and to define your model candidate. This dialogue can help you design a professional air traffic controller job description to assist you in more quickly finding candidates who are a good fit.
Look over these air traffic controller job specifications to give you ideas for your advertisement:
- Satisfactory score on the Air Traffic Standardized Aptitude Test
- Bachelor’s degree, three years of relevant work experience or a combination of the two
- Passing results on all medical and background examinations
- Qualifying score on the Federal Aviation Administration’s pre-employment test
- Excellent problem-solving and critical thinking skills
- Outstanding at multi-tasking and decision-making