One of the key questions facing a potential air traffic controller student is what to expect in the way of air traffic controller courses. What are they like? How difficult are the classes? What sort of additional support is there if a student requires additional assistance? Though it can vary from one air traffic controller school to the next, most schools share some of the same characteristics, and in fact, must carry many of the same types of courses in order to be recognized by the FAA Academy.
Math and Science Courses for Air Traffic Controllers
Those going into air traffic control must be familiar and comfortable with a high level of math. Algebraic thinking and formulating are a requirement of the job. An understanding of physics is also critical, in that the controller must be able to comprehend physical principles and the dynamics/interplay between mechanical, electrical, and atomic structures. Classes in aviation science, meteorology, and others fully integrate science and math. For those who are not up to par with the science and math, many CTI (collegiate training initiative) approved schools offer tutoring services.
For an exact listing of air traffic controller courses the potential candidate can go to the FAA website and view the course catalog for potential students. Many of the courses deal with reading instrumentation, radar, understanding the software involved, and also learning the type of aviation related terminology and acronyms utilized in day to day activities. The air traffic controller courses are all encompassing and include course work dealing with navigation, weather patterns, and disaster control techniques.
Air Traffic Control Simulators
Students are also given training via air traffic control simulators. These simulations recreate real life situations and present possible situations for new controllers to experience and overcome. Additionally, controllers are given the option of learning piloting basics. This gives the controller first hand experience when they are dealing with a pilot from the tower. To date, there are only 35 approved CTI schools that have flight and control simulators. Those who think they might be interested in pursuing a career as an air traffic controller can access a scaled-down version of one of these simulators. The online simulator is listed as the ATC-SIM. This allows the viewer to make calculations and judge traffic patterns based on many of the major airports around the country. The player can choose from Chicago's O'Hare airport, or Phoenix's Sky Harbor.
Air traffic controller schools, as well as air traffic controller courses, are quite diverse across the nation. While there is a set core of required classes that all schools offer, the sequence and the depth with which they are presented are as different as the institutions offering them. Schools that offer tutorial assistance, financial assistance, and those having up-to-date technology, such as simulators, are among the most sought after in the nation.