Air traffic controllers are required to be United States citizens and to pass background and medical checks. They must achieve a passing score on the Federal Aviation Administration pre-employment test and complete a training course at the FAA Academy. Air traffic controllers must pass a physical exam every year and a job performance test twice a year. Most must pass the Air Traffic Standardized Aptitude Test.
The AT-SAT is a computer-based exam that lasts eight hours. A person may take an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative education program, which lasts two or four years. The candidate must be recommended by the school to be eligible to take the AT-SAT. Special job vacancy announcements are given to AT-CTI graduates. Applicants without this training should have a four-year degree, equivalent progressive work experience or a combination of both. Candidates with previous experience as an air traffic controller do not need to take the pre-employment test. Newly hired air traffic controllers must complete between two and five months of training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. The length of time depends on the position and the person's background. After that, the person becomes a developmental controller in an air traffic control facility. It takes about two to four years for these trainees to become fully accredited by completing on-the-job training.