An air traffic controller applicant must attend the Federal Aviation Administration Academy in Oklahoma City with a starting date on or before the 31st birthday. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, three years of work experience showing progressive responsibilities, or a combination of education and work.
Before attending the FAA Academy, applicants must meet eligibility requirements. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and speak clearly in English for effective communication. Air traffic controllers undergo a medical exam and security investigation during the application process. Candidates must pass pre-employment testing, including the Air Traffic Selection and Training exam and a bio-data assessment to evaluate background and potential success in the position.
The Air Traffic Control Specialist program through the FAA Academy provides technical training to prepare for the career. The length of the program varies depending on the applicant's background but typically lasts two to five months. The program starts with classroom training and also includes simulators to recreate real-world situations.
Another pathway to a career in air traffic control is to complete an FAA-approved Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative Program. These programs provide background knowledge to prepare for an air traffic controller position. Graduates of the program must still meet eligibility requirements, pass assessments and attend the FAA Academy.