What is the training
program like to become an FAA Air Traffic Controller?
Once you successfully pass all phases of screening you will
be given a date to attend the FAA Academy. You will receive the following
documents in your FAA
Academy Start Package.
The FAA Academy is located in Oklahoma City, OK on the west side of Will Rogers World
Airport. The academy has numerous types of training programs for air traffic controllers depending on your previous
experience and type of facility you are being assigned.
More Information on the FAA
Air Traffic Basics
This course is offered to students that have applied via a
public announcement (PUBNAT/OTS) bid. This course lasts six weeks and introduces the student to air traffic control.
The Air Traffic Basics course is pass/fail.
Initial Tower Cab Training
This course is for any student that will be working in an
air traffic control tower. The course lasts approximately six weeks and covers everything you need to know to become
an effective tower controller. You will work in simulators that replicate real air traffic control towers. In
order to pass the course, you must successfully complete the Performance Verification (PV) in front of examiners for each
control position in the tower. The examiners evaluate you on how well you can apply everything you were taught over
the last six weeks to a simulated air traffic environment. If you do not pass the PV you will be given one more
chance. If you fail the second time, your employment with the FAA will end at the academy.
More Information on the Tower PV
Introduction to Radar Control (ITR)
ITR is a two week course offered to new hire FAA students. This course is targeted to new hire employees who have
completed Air Traffic Basics or equivalent and are being assigned to a TRACON-only facility. It provides information
that is basic to terminal air traffic control and introduces radar control keyboard entry skills. Topics presented
include: terminal controller responsibilities and expectations, human factors, air traffic publications, data blocks,
clearances, airspace, etc. In addition, the course teaches students air traffic control keyboard entry skills and
modification of data blocks in preparation for application of these skills in the Terminal Basic Radar Training Course
Terminal Basic Radar Training (RTF)
This course is designed for students returning to the academy after receiving a certification in a control tower or for
students who are initially hired to a stand alone radar facility (TRACON). The RTF course last approximately
four weeks. The first two weeks will be classroom training followed by two
weeks conducted radar simulations. You will work at a radar scope similar to the ones that will be at your facility
when you leave the academy. The RTF course is not a pass or fail course; however, you still have a Performance
Verification (PV) at the end of the four weeks. The PV evaluates how well you can apply everything you were taught
over the last four weeks in a radar
simulation. If you fail the PV, you still continue to your facility for OJT.
Initial EnRoute Training
This class is the most in depth class at the academy.
Since the FAA is the only organization where you control traffic in this
environment, the course is three months long to accommodate all the material you must learn. The Center course is a
compiled of classroom instruction as well as simulation. You must pass the Performance Verification (PV) at the end
of the course. If you do not pass the PV you will be given one more chance. If you fail the second time, your
employment with the FAA will end at the academy. After the final PV, students that pass will spend another week
learning other portions of the EnRoute environment.
More Information on the Center/EnRoute PV
Training at your facility
Once you successfully complete the FAA Academy you will
report for duty at your new facility. From there you will spend the next few
months to few years in training. The training consists of classroom
instruction, simulation training, and On-The-Job Training (OJT). You will
receive a training program for each position you train on. Each position will
have a target number of hours to become certified. These hours are generally based off of your previous
experience. If you have been assigned at other FAA facilities in the past you may not get as many target hours as
someone coming straight from the FAA Academy with no experience. If you fail to obtain certification within the
target hours, you will go before a review board. The review board will make a decision based on your performance
while in training whether to continue OJT and give you an extension of training hours, or to terminate your training.
If your training is terminated you may lose your job with the FAA, especially if you have never certified at any previous
FAA facility. It will be up to the FAA to determine if you should be re-located to another facility or
terminated. If you were previously certified at another facility, the FAA will give you up to five options to
choose where you may to be re-located.
Every time you transfer from one facility to the next, you
must under go a new training program. It always consists of OJT and some
facilities training programs are longer than others. Many air traffic
controllers will transfer facilities for advancement in pay or to be closer to