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Jobs Outlook: Air Traffic Controllers




Employment of air traffic controllers is expected to grow about as fast as the average through the year 2012. Increasing air traffic will require more controllers to handle the additional work. Employment growth, however, is not expected to keep pace with growth in the number of aircraft flying because of the increasing automation of the air traffic control system and Federal budget constraints. New computerized systems will assist the controller by automatically making many of the routine decisions. This will allow controllers to handle more traffic, thus increasing their productivity. Federal budget constraints also may limit hiring of air traffic controllers.

More job openings are expected due to replacement needs. The majority of today’s air traffic controllers will be eligible to retire over the next decade, although not all are expected to do so. Nevertheless, replacement needs will be substantial and will result in hundreds of job opportunities each year for those graduating from the FAA training programs. Despite the increasing number of jobs coming open, competition to get into the FAA training programs is expected to remain keen, as there generally are many more applicants to get into the schools than there are openings. But those that graduate have good prospects of getting a job as a controller.

Air traffic controllers who continue to meet the proficiency and medical requirements enjoy more job security than do most workers. The demand for air travel and the workloads of air traffic controllers decline during recessions, but controllers seldom are laid off.