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Key Traits of Air Traffic Controllers

Air traffic controllers have one of the most stressful, time-consuming, and vital jobs in the aviation industry. In addition to telling pilots how to safely navigate the skies, air traffic controllers must make on-the-spot decisions, endure rigorous training sessions, and remain extremely calm under pressure. Here are the traits:




Do you Possess the Necessary Skills to Command the Skies?

Air traffic controllers have one of the most stressful, time-consuming, and vital jobs in the aviation industry. In addition to telling pilots how to safely navigate the skies, air traffic controllers must make on-the-spot decisions, endure rigorous training sessions, and remain extremely calm under pressure. Many people venture into this challenging career thinking they can handle the expectations and pressures of it all, but truth be told, very few individuals are qualified for this tough career. Most every job within aviation requires attention to detail and tireless, hard work, but air traffic controllers also must meet a list of other requirements. If you’re considering becoming an air traffic controller, here are five key traits you must possess in order to survive and thrive in the position.

On-the-Spot Decision Making

Aviation doesn’t rely on a consistent, flawless system. There are unexpected changes and last-minute decisions that must be made all the time, and most of these decisions are made by air traffic controllers. You must be diligent and make decisions quickly if you’re planning to become an air traffic controller. When the occasion calls for it, air traffic controllers must be able to weigh their options and decide what the best course of action for the problem at hand is. It’s not easy to do, and many people simply aren’t designed to handle on-the-spot decision making.

Situational Awareness

Most people wander from place to place never really knowing or understanding where they are. Let’s face it: some people are great with directions and some are terrible with them. The best air traffic controllers possess an ability to know where they are in relation to their surroundings. Understanding and explaining directions is a key part of an air traffic controller’s job, and they must be able to do this with an ease that few people possess. If you have a strong sense of direction and can navigate around without relying upon a map, then you may possess this rare gift.

Mental and Physical Health

One of the main requirements of becoming an air traffic controller is having a clean bill of health. If you suffer from ailments such as epilepsy, diabetes, heart disease, or mental disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, etc.) you may be disqualified from reaching certification as an air traffic controller. It’s not that air traffic controllers are expected to be perfect; it’s that their lifestyle and job requirements are very stressful and demanding and can often worsen these pre-existing conditions. If you’re curious about some of these diagnoses and conditions that prevent someone from become an air traffic controller, see this link.

Strong Communication Skills

A vital part of an air traffic controller’s job is being able to communicate clear, precise instructions to pilots and fellow team members. If an air traffic controller is not able to do this, then they aren’t meeting the basic requirements of their job. In fact, air traffic controllers must know the precise language and exacts words to say in order to accurately convey their messages and commands. Even the most minor mishap can result in a negative outcome; therefore, air traffic controllers must communicate every thought and command with the utmost consistency and accuracy.

Handles Stress Well

The life of an air traffic controller is not for the faint of heart. The position requires a rigorous life commitment, and the stress of it all can get to even the most willful, strong individuals. Air traffic controllers must remain cool as a cucumber in the most dire of circumstances, but that’s what makes them so qualified to do this hard job. So if you don’t crack easily under pressure, then you might be able to handle one of the many demands of being an air traffic controller.

If you’re considering becoming an air traffic controller, first consider if you have these five essential skills at your disposal. It’s a difficult career to pursue, but it’s a rewarding, fulfilling one as well.

The Author:

Angelita Williams is an education blogger for www.onlinecollegecourses.com who loves writing about all the latest online learning trends in the industry. When she’s not writing articles, Angelita is probably trying a recipe from her library of cookbooks. You can reach her at angelita.williams7@gmail.com.




One Response

08.23.12

I can’t think of a more stressful job… The sheer responsibility for such a large number of lives, terrifying.

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About Wayne Farley

Wayne Farley

I am Wayne, an aviation safety evangelist who once made my living working in the control tower. Engage me while I share my thoughts, experience, and news from the aviation world. After writing "13 Characteristics of an air traffic controller" in 2010, it went viral and established me as an unofficial ambassador for ATC.

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