United States Military Air Traffic Controllers
There are a few avenues one may pursue to become and air traffic controller. The most common approach is to join the military. Once a recruit passes basic training he/she will attend the air traffic control school for the branch of military they enlisted. The school can be anywhere from three to four months in length depending on the branch of service. If you successfully graduate the school, you will be assigned to your first facility where you conduct On-The-Job-Training (OJT). You may be assigned to a tower, radar, or even ship for duty. Training may last anywhere from six months to three years depending on the complexity of the facility to which you are assigned and potential deployments. Once you have completed the required training, you will receive an
FAA certification from an approved certifying official. This is the same type of certification an air traffic controller working for the FAA will receive.
Throughout your time in the military you must be able to maintain a certain type of medical certificate. Most branches of the military refer to this as being in flight status. You must take a flight physical once a year and pass. The physical exams eyes, hearing, heart conditions, blood pressure, among other things. If you cannot pass a flight physical you may not continue your job as an air traffic controller and may be subject to re-assignment to a new career field.
Air traffic controllers in the military will commonly deploy to places throughout the world. Each time an air traffic controller is assigned to a new facility, they must undergo OJT. Usually after the air traffic control receives their first qualification, they obtain other certifications relatively quick. They can receive certification at some places in as little as a day after a few hours of OJT.
What are the Steps to Join the Military?
To enlist, an individual must be 18 years old, or 17 with parental consent. He or she must also have graduated from high school, although a General Education Development (GED) certificate is sometimes acceptable.
What is the Training Program Like to Become a U.S. Military Air Traffic Controller?
Step 1: Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). The ASVAB is a multiple-choice exam that helps determine for which careers an individual is best suited. Both traditional pen-and-paper exams and a computer-based version are available. The ASVAB takes approximately three hours to complete and has questions about standard school subjects like math, English, writing and science. Each Service uses a custom combination of ASVAB results to produce scores related to different career fields. The Military uses students? ASVAB scores to identify the occupations that best suit their abilities. Junior, senior, and post-secondary school students can use their ASVAB scores for enlistment for up to two years after taking the test. You must score high enough in certain areas of the ASVAB in order to select air traffic control as a career choice.
Step 2: Pass the Physical. The physical is a regular exam similar to the type of physical conducted for sporting activities in high school. You must have vision correctable to 20/20 and no colorblindness in order to select air traffic control as a career choice. You must also have good hearing.
Step 3: Meet with a Counselor and Determine a Career. Several factors way into the decision if you are able to choose air traffic control as your career choice. They are based on: needs of the military, job availability, ASVAB score, and physical requirements.
Step 4: Take the Oath of Enlistment. Once the recruit?s career has been determined, he or she is ready to take the oath of enlistment. In this statement, the recruit vows to defend the U.S. Constitution and obey the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
Step 5: Ship off to boot camp. Each service has their own boot camp in which the newly signed on recruit learns basic military tactics.
Like all air traffic control facilities, On-the-Job Training is required to become fully certified as an air traffic controller. Each branch of the service has its' own criteria such as: pre-requisites to begin training, length of training, among many other things.
What are the Working Conditions Like for a U.S. Military Controller?
Compared to other career paths in the military, the working conditions for an air traffic controller are above average. Unless deployed most controllers enjoy their entire shift in an air conditioned or heated facility. Military air traffic controllers can work longer hours than FAA air traffic controllers. Typical military shifts can last anywhere from 8-10 hours and during deployments or crisis military air traffic controllers can work 12 our more hours in a single day.
What are the Pay and Benefits of a U.S. Military Air Traffic Controller?
For more information on military pay and benefits, please check out this link: Military Compensation
Where can I find a list of Military Bases in the U.S?
Military Aviation Base Locations