|Control Tower at JFK|
Photo by Pat Guiney
The highest paying job in the
States where a college degree is not
required is an air traffic controller. Air
traffic controllers, ATC, operate air-traffic control centers but expedite
and maintain a safe and orderly flow of aircraft. They serve this function either as a civilian
or as a military air traffic controller.
Their primary job is to apply separation rules between aircraft in their area of
operation. They average salary of an air
traffic controller is about $117,240 a year.
The job of an air ATC has an incredibly large area of responsibility while they are on the duty. Because of this the ATC profession is regarded worldwide as one the most difficult jobs today. The job itself can be extremely stressful depending on so many variables like equipment, configurations, weather and volume of traffic, human factors and many other situations that may arise. The conditions that ATCs work under may sound impossible to the average person but the job has a very high salary, good employee benefits, autonomy and very flexible hours as major benefits of the job.
Air traffic controllers are usually people who have well-organized as positions and the quick ability to compute numbers, have assertive and for decision-making skills. They also possess an excellent short-term memory and have a high degree of situational awareness much higher than that found in the general population.
They also have excellent hearing and speaking skills that are acquirement for the job and they are trained to undergo rigid physical and psychological testing in performing their job. The ATC is usually an assertive person that can remain calm under pressure capable of following and applying rules yet they must be flexible enough when the necessity arises.
ATCs have to maintain some of the highest and strictest medical and mental requirements of any profession. They are disqualified if they saw for from diabetes, epilepsy and heart disease. Hypertension is also taken very seriously and it must be constantly monitored. It is the controller’s to remain healthy and they must avoid taking certain medications that are banned for them. There are many drugs that are approved by the FDA like antidepressants that are banned for their use. They begin their training usually in their twenties and an ATC retires sometime in their fifties.
One of the most vital parts of this job is the ability to communicate clearly and focus precisely on the exact words that other pilots or controllers speak. This is because a single misunderstood word about an altitude level or runway number as examples could have disastrous consequences.
If you're employed by the FAA the highest age that you can start training is 30 and you must retire when you're 56 years old. If you are a military air traffic controller you can start training for the FAA job up to 31 years old.
If you're working for the NATS you can start an application and training when you're 18 years old and the mandatory retirement ages 60. If you are 18 when you join and are successful the NATS will have you posted to an area course that will ensure that you are 21 years old on graduation being sure you're old enough to hold a radar license.
Air Traffic Controller, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_traffic_controller