Though it is one of the most lucrative, competitive, and fulfilling careers, there are requirements that one should be aware of when considering becoming an air traffic controller. Current projections indicate that it will be a job in high demand, and an area of growth over the next ten years. However, the road to becoming an air traffic controller is not an easy one. There are several main criteria a candidate must meet in order to be considered for the position.

Air Traffic Control Age Requirements

One of the requirements to be an air traffic controller is that the candidate be less than 31 years of age. This is because health problems and the onset of certain degradations begin around the age of 30. Given this, then, the health of the applicant must be excellent. Those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, or other disabilities would be better suited to other careers. Why the emphasis on physical condition? The stress of the job is significant. Consider that the average air traffic controller is liable for the safety and welfare of thousands of people each day. The grueling hours and the intense focus required to do the job are physically taxing.

Air Traffic Control Test Requirements

Another of the air traffic controller requirements is that the candidate achieves a score of at least a 70 C on the FAA pre-employment test. This test is waived if the candidate has prior air traffic controller experience, for example, with the military. Once a vacancy announcement closes, an applicant will be contacted to take the test. The test is generally given 4-8 weeks after notification. There is no cost to the applicant to take the test, and if the applicant needs to re-take the test in an attempt to better their score, the FAA will work with the candidate to make this possible. These test scores are good and kept on record for up to three years. During that time if a position comes open, you will be notified.

Air Traffic Control Security Clearance Requirements

Likewise, candidates for air traffic controller training must pass a rigorous security investigation. Given the current global climate, the FAA wants to make certain that those governing U.S. airspace are stable individuals with no record of dishonorable military records or civilian criminal records. Additionally, the FAA will look into any charges against the potential applicant including DUI offenses, firearms violations, false information on the application, or affiliations with known suspect groups. Those applicants facing financial issues, such as foreclosures, bankruptcies, and willful disregard of any financial obligations (child support) will also be rejected. In other words, the FAA wants individuals who have a history of living clean lives with no known patterns of erratic behavior.

Air Traffic Control Educational Requirements

Lastly, the candidate must have a certain level of education. Many candidates opt to attend a community college that offers specific courses in air traffic control, while others with degrees in other areas, may still be eligible if the degree is a four year degree. Related work experience will often substitute for education if the applicant has been employed for three or more years in an aviation related job. Pilots and navigators, for example, could substitute their experience for education in many instances.

Air traffic controllers are proud individuals, and due to the high standards and requirements to enter the program, they should be. Each day they manage to keep the skies and runways clear of accidents. The general public little knows or understands the vital role that they play behind the scenes, but suffice it to say that without their knowledge, expertise and fortitude, U.S. skies would not be the efficient global travel destination for millions each year. When one takes this into consideration, then, it is no wonder that those candidates that are considering becoming a part of the FAA's elite must meet a high level of excellence.