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Are all traffic controllers FAA traffic controllers?

I'm curious about the organizational structure of an airport and an airline. I want to know so I can begin working toward my career as an air traffic controller. This question was posted by a CareerVillage administrator on behalf of the students of CareerVillage. #aviation #airline-industry #air-traffic-control


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Michael’s Answer

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Not all Air Traffic Controllers work for the FAA. A majority do. There are different types of air traffic controllers, whether you work in a tower (like you'd see at an airport) or at another facility what we call a "Center," which is a radar facility that controls aircraft during their voyage from Point A to Point B. There is yet another type of radar facility, called a TRACON, which is an approach/departure control. I have worked as both a Center controller, and a Tower controller. I am now a manager at a tower.


The hiring structure for new controllers has changed over the last few years. The FAA is still allowing "off the street hiring." In order to get hired by this route, you must have a 4 year degree, or progressively more responsible work experience. This is very competitive. There are job application windows open throughout the year, and you must take a series of questionnaires and tests in order to be selected. Another way of becoming a controller with the FAA is by gaining experience in the military right out of high school, and then applying to the FAA once your military commitment is up.


Their are basically three groups that make up the air traffic controller work force. The FAA who has the majority of the work force, the Department of Defense has both civilian and military controllers and finally the smallest group is ran by private air traffic control corporations that hold contracts in small airports that are not as busy as major airports and military installations. Rob Marcotte

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Wayne’s Answer

Just to add to the post about the FAA hiring process - the FAA currently has approximately 40,000 plus controllers. It is bringing on thousands of controllers, about 1,000 or more each 'wave' of new hires. They need to address the fact that one third of present controllers are eligible to retire. After filling as many openings as possible through the military, and a few through contract controllers that work for private companies and staff air traffic positions, the FAA has turned to entry level openings either straight out of college, or with an associates and a couple years experience. Yes it's tough but be persistent - it's a GREAT career path, ending up with MANY controllers at GS - 13 pay levels which is about $100,000 annually right now. It's really a tough job but young people with good reflexes and quick thinking (think video game champs) would also excel at many of the challenges. Just my 2 cents. I have great respect for controllers, and here at FAA we get a story a week it seems, about heroics of controllers helping pilots in distress so they don't have a bad outcome. All right, enough out of me. Check the FAA web site for these, and the other entry level positions like electronics technicians.


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Phillip’s Answer

The majority of controllers work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


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Tom’s Answer

There are also many opportunities in the US military for Air Traffic Control work, and often it is easier to get hired by the FAA if you have experience in the military.
Also, there are companies that provide air traffic control services at many of the smaller airports. Midwest ATC, http://www.atctower.com/atc.aspx , RVA Robinson Aviation, http://www.rvainc.net/ , and Serco http://www.serco-na.com/jobs/serco-overview are three such companies.


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Rob’s Answer

All air traffic controllers are not FAA employees. The Department of Defense (DOD) has controllers both civilian and military, and their are a number of private companies that provide air traffic control services around the country mostly in small regional airports usually owned by local governments. All air traffic controllers are licensed by the FAA and have to follow the same regulations established to conduct air traffic control.


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Christopher’s Answer

Arguably, the best way to become an FAA Air Traffic Controller is via the military with Air Traffic Control as a guaranteed career field. Another way is to attend a college that has a Collegiate Training Initiative ( CTI ) program for Air Traffic. Getting hired "off the street" is, in most cases the most difficult avenue to pursue but not impossible.


FAA controllers make up the majority of Air Traffic Controllers in the country. Department of Defense (DOD) controllers also exist but there are no direct hiring opportunities. In addition, some Airport Traffic Control Towers (ATCT) are operated by private companies that are required to abide by FAA rules and regulations. Access to these jobs requires a Control Tower Operator (CTO) Certificate which you can get through military experience or some CTI programs.


www.faa.gov is a good source of information.


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