Government agencies that oversee air traffic, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and Eurocontrol in Europe, provide air traffic control training. People who want to work as air traffic controllers can take a variety of routes to qualify for training. Candidates will spend several years working under the supervision of experienced air traffic controllers to familiarize themselves with the systems and protocols used once they have completed their training.
Someone must be a citizen of the region where he or she wishes to work in order to be eligible for air traffic control training. Because they do not want to invest in training older adults, government agencies often have age cutoffs; the FAA, for example, requires applicants to be under 31. Candidates for air traffic control must also be able to communicate clearly in the language used air traffic controllers in the region where they plan to work, as well as pass medical and security screenings. Once accepted into an air traffic control training program, some government agencies require candidates to take exams to demonstrate their ability to learn.
People with prior experience as air traffic controllers, such as those who have worked as civilian air traffic controllers, served in the military, or worked for government air traffic control agencies, must still complete government air traffic control training before being hired. The government training ensures that everyone is familiar with the protocols used government employees; however, because people with experience do not need to be familiarized with basic information, the length of the training may be reduced; training requirements vary depending on where one wants to work.
People with no prior experience are eligible for government air traffic control training if they have a college diploma or at least three years of work experience demonstrating their ability to handle complex tasks and increasing levels of responsibility. The training program may be difficult for inexperienced applicants, but it is not impossible. They will be dismissed if they are unable to complete the program. If you don’t make progress while working under the supervision of experienced air traffic controllers, you’ll be fired.
The Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative Program in the United States offers a third option. Students in this program earn a two- or four-year aviation degree from an FAA-approved college or university before applying for air traffic control training. This program is designed to familiarize candidates with a variety of aviation concepts in order to prepare them for work as air traffic controllers.