Air traffic controller schools have become highly competitive organizations. This is due to the fact that air traffic controllers are in high demand. Personal and financial rewards await the candidates that succeed in navigating the process toward becoming an air traffic controller. The FAA Academy admission requirements include educational components, including degrees. However, preferential consideration and additional points are given to those candidates with prior experience or for those who have previously attended an air traffic control school. But how do you find the right school? What does it cost? And, more importantly to some, how long does it take?
Air Traffic Controller Schools and Programs
There is a plethora of schools, both online air traffic controller schools and brick and mortar schools. Finding one that is both accredited and carries the required curriculum is the key. Horror stories abound on the Internet and blogs, detailing the tragic consequences of a potential candidate spending countless dollars and investing years of time into a program only to find out that the program will not be recognized by the FAA (Federal Aviation Association).
Universities and community colleges offering degrees in air traffic control are, for the most part, reliable when it comes to the curriculum and the instructors. Universities and community colleges offering air traffic controller instruction are required by the state to maintain certain levels and standards. Instructors and professors are licensed and will use approved curriculum which follows mandates put forth by the FAA and is accepted by the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, OK. Typical community colleges charge from $1,200.00 to $2,100.00 a year. A more detailed and specific breakdown of the costs can be obtained from the individual school's tuition listing. Additionally, the potential candidate can find a listing of FAA approved air traffic controller schools online via the FAA website.
The advantage of attending an actual brick and mortar college is the direct interaction with professors who have been air traffic controllers themselves. Questions can be answered and feedback given. The disadvantage is that the candidate is locked into a schedule dictated by the university and the professors. Additionally, the cost of the program is not usually subsidized by any known scholarships, unless individually offered by the university. The time involved is about two to three years, but may extend well past that if a shortage in professors exists. Many students have found themselves having to take alternative classes because the campus has not been able to hire enough qualified instructors.
Online Air Traffic Controller Schools
Online air traffic controller schools are proliferating at an exponential rate. Most will offer adequate coverage of topics and will prepare the candidate for the next step, which is to be accepted into the FAA Academy. However, when researching online air traffic controller programs, it behooves the serious applicant to make certain that the school is an accredited program. If this is not stated on the webpage or on the online course catalog, make it a point to contact someone representing the school and find out. Get the assurance in writing.
The advantages of taking an online class are obvious. First, the student can take courses that fit into their schedule. For those who are returning to the classroom after a time away, this is the best possible option since it allows the student to take courses in the evening after work. Generally speaking, the amount of time it takes to complete a degree in this fashion is dependent upon the student. The student can move as fast or as slowly as necessary. Likewise, the online courses are often cheaper since there's a lower overhead for the school. Actual figures vary widely among online schools. Many accredited universities and colleges also offer online alternatives because they realize that many people are returning to receive advanced or additional education.
The disadvantage of taking online air traffic controller classes is that online courses are often offered by institutions that are not affiliated with real brick and mortar colleges. Instead, these schools are virtual schools with little to no accreditation, nor are they held to the same standards as the colleges and universities. Recently, it was reported that aggressive recruiters for these schools told prospective students that they were accredited when, in fact, they were not. Does this mean that all virtual schools are disreputable? Not at all. What it does mean is that the prospective student must make some due diligence and insist on receiving everything in writing.
For those who take the time and have the dedication to work toward a degree in air traffic control from an air traffic controller school, the lifestyle, monetary rewards, and job satisfaction are second to none.