Air Traffic Controller Job Description, Key Duties and Responsibilities

By | July 14, 2023
Air Traffic Controller Job Description
Air traffic controllers help guide pilots safely in their flights.

This post presents detailed information on the air traffic controller job description to help you learn the key duties, tasks, and responsibilities they normally perform.

It also provides the major requirements for being hired for the air traffic controller role, as well as the salary for the position.

What Does an Air Traffic Controller Do?

The air traffic controller job description involves ensuring safe and orderly progression of aircraft, vehicle, and vessel traffic, as well as their security.

It also entails keeping record of all traffic that passes through the control area.

The air traffic controller provides details about weather conditions to guide pilots in their flights, as well as route information to help them navigate safely.

Air traffic controllers organize departure and arrival procedures for all airports under their control so that they can help movement in a more efficient way.

This position ensures that the departure and arrival of flights, vehicle, and vessel traffic are coordinated with other airfields within their control or adjacent to it.

It is the duty of the air traffic controller to ensure that flight plans for arrivals and departures are given priority of service.

They communicate clear instructions to pilots and other controllers in order to avoid any misunderstanding, thereby lessening the likelihood of accidents taking place.

In case of an emergency, the traffic controller handles the matter by contacting with various agencies, such as police, fire department, and medical services.

They also make communication with nearby airfields or aircraft in order to facilitate immediate assistance during any distress situation that may arise during a take-off or landing.

More on Air Traffic Controller Job Description

The air traffic controller work description also involves making crucial decisions as regards safety and security of aviation, as well as aircraft, vehicle and vessel traffic during poor visibility or when other hazardous conditions arise.

Assessing whether or not an aircraft can land, take-off or taxi safely in poor weather, or when visibility is limited by fog, haze, and smoke, among other things is a key task of an air traffic controller.

It is also their duty to ensure that no aircraft is allowed to enter the runway unless its path is clear of any vehicle or vessel traffic that could obstruct it during landing, take off, or moving on the runway in general.

After landing, take-off or taxiing, the traffic controller ensures that aircraft, vehicle, and vessel traffic from near airports have been received and have left the airport before closing the control area.

They keep record of all aircraft for future reference in case of any request for assistance by airfields, government agencies, or other interested parties.

This includes information of flight plans and arrival/departure times of flights due to seasonal changes and other operational activities.

Air Traffic Controller Job Description Sample/Example/Template

The air traffic controller job description includes the following duties, tasks, and responsibilities:

  • Provides flight controllers and traffic managers with flight information
  • Monitors radar displays to keep track of aircraft in assigned area
  • Provides flight information on request to airport control tower air traffic controllers in order to assist the movement of aircraft on the ground
  • Keeps abreast of weather conditions through various surface and upper air reporting networks
  • Monitors and coordinates with transponder controllers, radar controllers and ground-based traffic systems in order to ensure the safe and efficient flow of aircraft across airport airspace
  • Maintains flight plans, including company flight plans
  • Conducts pre-flight briefings for aircraft pilots on the ground to ensure that all pertinent information is given before takeoff
  • Monitors, coordinates, and assigns aircraft to airports and terminal feeder routes
  • Monitors and coordinates with air traffic control centers and other agencies in the United States.
  • Evaluates performance of air traffic controllers on duty during shift to determine if any additional training is required, or if the performance is satisfactory for continued employment
  • Monitors job performance of air traffic controllers throughout shift for reasons of unsatisfactory performance (e.g., misunderstanding or miscommunication)
  • Follows all safety directives issued by U.S. FAA
  • Keeps office and work area clean and organized.

Air Traffic Controller Job Description for Resume

If you writing a new resume or CV as someone who has worked before in the role of an air traffic controller, you can make a more compelling resume by including that experience in the Professional Experience part of the resume.

You can apply the above air traffic controller job description sample in making the Professional Experience section of your resume by highlighting its duties and responsibilities (which you have performed) in that Section.

This will show that you have been effective in carrying out the air traffic controller role, which can boost your chances of being hired for the new job, especially if it requires someone with some air traffic controller work experience.

Air Traffic Controller Requirements: Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities for Career Success

Here are major requirements you may be expected to meet to be hired for the air traffic controller job:

  • Satisfactory performance of basic military service requirements
  • Sufficient education and training to perform job assigned
  • Reasonably good moral character and favorable background
  • Earned a qualifying score on qualification test, which includes: General Category Test, Aviation Category Tests and Special Category Tests (if required), Mental Ability Tests (if required)
  • Successfully completed the first phase of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program as part of degree-seeking program or a departmental program
  • Successful completion of Phase II training to earn an Air Traffic Controller (ATC) Degree or Flight Dispatcher/Flight Service Specialist (FSSP) Certificate
  • Possess FAA-issued air traffic control certification
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 39
  • Possess a valid state driver’s license in order to drive a car to and from work, as well as during duty hours
  • Amenable to worldwide assignment, if required by the Air Force
  • Possess normal color vision (if required by ATC specialty)
  • Have a valid state or federally issued driver’s license
  • Ability to speak clearly and distinctly and use good English grammar.

Air Traffic Controller Salary

The average annual salary for an air traffic controller is $61,681 ( and $52,624 ( per year.

The top paying cities according to are: Washington, DC, $60,529; Reston, VA, $60,387; Mesa, AZ, $54,020; Beavercreek, OH, $50,337; and New Orleans, LA, $46,603 per year.

The United States now employs about 9,430 air traffic controllers. Women make up 21.9% of all air traffic controllers, while men make up 78.1%.

An engaged air traffic controller is 39 years old on average.

White population makes up the most number of air traffic controllers (69.7%) while Hispanic or Latino comes second (14.5%), followed by Black or African American (9.5%).

Air traffic controllers are in high demand in New Orleans, Louisiana. Washington, DC has the highest yearly average earnings in the United States, at $60,529 per year.


The air traffic controller is one of the most important jobs in the aviation sector as it contributes directly to safety.

This post is useful to individuals interested in the air traffic controller career.

They will be able to learn all they need to know about the air traffic controller duties and responsibilities, and so be able to decide if it’s the right job for them.

It is also helpful to recruiters/employers needing to make a detailed job description for the air traffic controller position in their organization.

They can apply the air traffic controller job description example provided on this page.