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air traffic control

im a sophomore in high school and i would like to know more about being an air traffic controller. what different things do they do and are the working conditions good? what are the hours and salary like and are there fringe benefits? #air-traffic-control

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Ryan’s Answer

Hello Alexis. I'm not in the Air Traffic Control field, but I did graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which is often the top ranked Aeronautical Engineering and aviation school in the world, so I do have a few friends that are air traffic controllers.

It terms of what they do, it is very standardized - your job is to monitor the status and location of aircraft to ensure there are no collisions. This may sound simple and straightforward, but ATC is consistently ranked as one of the most stressful jobs you can have. If you work at a busy airport you might be monitoring dozens, if not hundreds, of aircraft at any given moment, each with hundreds of souls on board that you need to help keep safe! Passenger airlines and cargo aircraft are often under very strict timelines, so you can't afford to be slow and take your time either - you have to balance being safe and being highly efficient to ensure the unimpeded flow of interstate commerce!

I can't speak to the working conditions such as shift length, but I can say ATCs are physically safe and likely comfortable since your indoors for your entire workday. However, it is very stressful, you are likely very limited in when and how long you get to take breaks, and you will be staring a computer screen all day which can cause eye problems over the course of 5-20 years.

Lastly, in terms of benefits, I believe almost all ATCs are federal employees. As such you are not likely to get any fringe benefits like you would if you were an employee of a specific airline (free tickets, airport lounge access, etc.). The federal retirement system is decent though.

If you have more questions I would check out Embry-Riddle's website, and maybe reach out to a faculty member there. Good luck!

https://erau.edu/degrees/bachelor/air-traffic-management
Thank you comment icon thank you! alexis
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