Now hiring: Air traffic controllers

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is seeking to recruit a new group of air traffic controllers to address the increasing staffing needs at various air traffic control facilities across the country. This news is especially significant because it reveals that individuals interested in pursuing a career as an air traffic controller do not necessarily need a degree. This may appeal to many young Americans who are opting for vocational work instead of pursuing a traditional college education.

### Hiring Window and Requirements

The FAA's air traffic controller hiring process is scheduled to take place from April 19 to 22. Prospective applicants must fulfill specific criteria, including U.S. citizenship, English language proficiency, and successful completion of medical, security, and other pre-employment tests and checks. Additionally, applicants must be under the age of 31, as controllers are required to retire at 56. This age criterion is intended to ensure that new hires can enjoy a lengthy career in this field.

### Recruitment Targets

The agency aims to hire 1,800 controllers in the current year and intends to recruit 2,000 more in 2025.

### Training Process

Those who are selected will undergo initial training at an FAA facility in Oklahoma City. Upon successful completion, they will proceed to receive further on-the-job training at an air traffic control tower or radar facility. High-performing trainees in the initial training phase have a greater chance of being assigned to their preferred facility.

### Considerations and Challenges

It is important to note that many trainees may not complete the training, and there is the ongoing risk of developing a disqualifying medical condition in the future. Moreover, the FAA is exploring initiatives to increase ATC staffing by collaborating with aviation colleges to rethink the traditional college-to-controller pipeline.

### Perspectives from an ATC Supervisor

According to Dawne Barrett, supervisor of Minneapolis approach and departure control, the job's appeal lies in the collaborative teamwork, as well as the health benefits and government pension it offers. She emphasizes the shared goal of ensuring the safe movement of people from one point to another.

### Realities of the Job

Barrett also acknowledges the inherent stress and challenging schedules associated with being an air traffic controller and stresses the importance of self-care. Despite the demanding nature of the job, she underlines the immense responsibility and satisfaction that comes with making a positive impact on the safety of others.

The recruitment of air traffic controllers by the FAA represents an opportunity for individuals interested in a dynamic and impactful career. However, it is accompanied by the recognition that the job entails significant responsibilities and requires a commitment to self-care due to its demanding nature.  

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