There are currently an estimated 24,900 air traffic controllers in the United States. The air traffic controller job market is expected to grow by 3.6% between 2016 and 2026.

How employable are air traffic controllers?

CareerExplorer rates air traffic controllers with a F employability rating, meaning this career should provide poor employment opportunities for the foreseeable future. Over the next 10 years, it is expected the US will need 6,800 air traffic controllers. That number is based on 900 additional air traffic controllers, and the retirement of 5,900 existing air traffic controllers.

Are air traffic controllers in demand?

Decreased demand for air controllers stems from budget constraints and limitations on hiring new controllers, but is also due to the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The ongoing implementation of ‘NextGen’ through 2025 will transform air traffic control systems from a radar-based system with radio communication to a satellite-based one. This conversion will allow controllers to handle greater amounts of traffic and thereby reduce the need for new hires. Much of the employment growth in the next decade will subsequently come from replacing retirees from the field. Aspiring controllers must be thirty years of age or younger and have completed an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI), a Bachelor’s Degree in air traffic management or aviation technology, or have experience as a controller in the military. Successful candidates will be in peak physical health, possess top level proficiency in English, and possess the capacities to concentrate and multi-task in a stressful environment and to process significant amounts of information quickly. They must be articulate and decisive when interacting with pilots. Willingness to relocate will also increase job seekers’ employability. The vast majority of air traffic controllers in the United States are employed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While most controllers work at airport towers across the country, some work at the FAA’s Air Traffic Control Systems Command Center in Herndon, Virginia or conduct research at the FAA’s national experimental center near Atlantic City, New Jersey. Others are instructors with the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. A small number of civilian controllers work for the U.S Department of Defense or for private air traffic control companies that provide services to non-FAA towers and contract flight service stations. In the end, only the very best candidates become licensed air traffic controllers, because only the best should be in control of this very sensitive industry.

What’s the supply of air traffic controllers?

The air traffic controller industry is concentrated in California, Florida, Illinois

Air Traffic Controller job market by state

State Name Employed Air Traffic Controllers
California 2,180
Florida 1,770
Illinois 1,190
New York 1,170
Virginia 1,060
Georgia 890
Ohio 730
District of Columbia 700
Tennessee 620
Minnesota 620
Washington 600
North Carolina 550
Oklahoma 510
Alaska 460
Kansas 440
New Hampshire 430
Massachusetts 420
Pennsylvania 400
Utah 360
Arizona 360
New Mexico 340
Louisiana 250
Missouri 240
Nevada 230
Alabama 230
Kentucky 220
New Jersey 200
South Carolina 190
Oregon 140
Iowa 130
Mississippi 130
Puerto Rico 120
Wisconsin 120
Arkansas 110
North Dakota 100
West Virginia 90
Maryland 90
Montana 80
Connecticut 70
South Dakota 70
Idaho 60
Rhode Island 50
Vermont 30