Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (CTO)


Credential: Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (CTO)
Credentialing Agency: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (CTO) certificate rates and tests professionals on ground control, tower flight data, and local control within a tower. Air Traffic Control Tower Operators control air traffic on and within the vicinity of airport and movement of air traffic between altitude sectors and control centers according to established procedures and policies. In addition, Air Traffic Control Tower Operators authorize, regulate, and control commercial airline flights according to government or company regulations to expedite and ensure flight safety. Applicants must meet eligibility requirements in accordance with Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Applicants must pass a written and practical exam.

More information can be found on the certifying agency's website.

Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (CTO)

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

Attainability:    high

Eligibility Requirements (View Details)

  • Credential Prerequisite
  • Experience: 6 months
  • Education
  • Training
  • Membership
  • Other
  • Fee

Note: This credential may have multiple options for a Service member to meet eligibility requirements. Requirements listed here are based on the minimum degree required. To view other options, see the Eligibility tab.

Exam Requirements (View Details)

  • Exam
  • Written Exam
  • Oral Exam
  • Practical Exam
  • Performance Assessment

Exam Administration (View Details)

  • In-person exam
  • Remote proctored on-line exam
  • Third-party test vendor

AGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

800 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC  20591

Phone: (866) 835-5322

Contact Page

Applicant for a facility rating at any air traffic control tower must have satisfactorily served—

  • As an air traffic control tower operator at that control tower without a facility rating for at least six months; or
  • As an air traffic control tower operator with a facility rating at a different control tower for at least six months before the date he/she applies for the rating.

Note: Applicant who is a member of an Armed Force of the United States meets the requirements of this section if he/she has satisfactorily served as an air traffic control tower operator for at least six months.

The Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (CTO) credential has the following other requirements:

  • Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Applicant must be of good moral character.
  • Applicant must be able to read, write, and understand the English language and speak it without accent or impediment of speech that would interfere with two-way radio conversation.
  • Applicant must hold at least a second-class medical certificate issued under CFR Title 14 -Chapter I - Subchapter D - Part 67 Subpart C, except for a person employed by the FAA or employed by, or on active duty with, the Department of the Air Force, Army, or Navy or the Coast Guard.

    Note: Second-class medical certificate must be issued within 12 months before the date application is made.

  • No person may act as an air traffic control tower operator at an air traffic control tower in connection with civil aircraft unless he/she:
    • Holds an FAA Credential with a tower rating or an air traffic control tower operator certificate issued under CFR Title 14 - Chapter I - Subchapter D - Part 65 - Subpart B;
    • Holds a facility rating for that control tower issued under Subpart B, or has qualified for the operating position at which he/she acts and is under the supervision of the holder of a facility rating for that control tower; and
    • Except for a person employed by the FAA or employed by, or on active duty with, the Department of the Air Force, Army, or Navy or the Coast Guard, holds at least a second-class medical certificate issued under CFR Title 14 -Chapter I - Subchapter D - Part 67 Subpart C.

Written Exam

  • FAA Flight Rules - Part 91
  • Airport traffic control procedures
  • En route traffic control procedures
  • Communications operating procedures
  • Flight assistance service
  • Air navigation, and aids to air navigation
  • Aviation weather

Practical Exam

  • Control tower equipment and its use
  • Weather reporting procedures and use of reports
  • Notices to Airmen, and use of the Airman's Information Manual
  • Use of operational forms
  • Performance of noncontrol operational duties
  • Procedures
    • The airport, including rules, equipment, runways, taxiways, and obstructions
    • The terrain features, visual checkpoints, and obstructions within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for the airport
    • Traffic patterns and associated procedures for use of preferential runways and noise abatement
    • Operational agreements
    • The center, alternate airports, and those airways, routes, reporting points, and air navigation aids used for terminal air traffic control
    • Search and rescue procedures
    • Terminal air traffic control procedures and phraseology
    • Holding procedures, prescribed instrument approach, and departure procedures
    • Radar alignment and technical operation
    • The application of the prescribed radar and nonradar separation standard, as appropriate

Exam Preparation Resources

There are a number of resources available to help you prepare for the Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (CTO) examination:

An additional resource is O'Reilly Learning Safari Books Online, a searchable digital library that provides online access to thousands of books, training videos and conference sessions. See the Educational Resources section on the Related Sites page here on COOL to learn how to get free access.

Testing Information

  • Exam Administration

    Credential exams may be administered in-person at a testing site, proctored on-line remotely, or have options for both. If an exam is administered through a test vendor, the third-party test vendor box will be checked. The following test administration options apply to the Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (CTO) credential where checked:

    • In-person exam
    • Remote proctored on-line exam
    • Third-party test vendor

For more information on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) testing process, visit the agency website.

In Demand

This certification is considered in demand. The U.S. Department of Labor sponsored CareerOneStop's analysis indicates the certification is frequently mentioned in online job postings.

Click for external link to CareerOneStop's Credentials Center.

COOL Bucks

See your installation Education Service Officer for credential exam information and coordinating instructions.

COOL Summary

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COOL Summary

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COOL Summary

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COOL Summary

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COOL Summary

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COOL Summary

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Some

Credential is related to some tasks associated with the duties of the military occupation (at least one critical task but less than 80%)

Most

Credential is directly related to most of the major duties associated with the military occupation (at least 80%)

Other

Credential is related to this military occupation, but is more advanced or specialized and therefore will likely require additional education, training, or experience

CA Eligible

This certification is eligible for CA.

Star

Star credentials are MOS enhancing, as designated by the Proponent. MOS enhancing credentials are directly related to an MOS or ASI, are taught either partially or completely as part of a Program of Instruction (POI), and improves the MOS technical proficiency.

Skill Level

The Skill Level reflects the level, based on MOS training and/or experience, the Soldier should be the most prepared to successfully earn the credential. See the Table Legend for details about each level.

Navy Bucks

Credential voucher or reimbursement for credential exam, re-certification, or maintenance fee has been approved for payment through the Navy's Credential Program Office. To get a voucher request form, click Menu at the top of any page, then click "2 Complete Voucher and Apply" under Credentialing Steps.

CG Bucks

Current Coast Guard policy states all credentials listed on CG COOL may be reimbursed assuming the enlisted service member meets the eligibility requirements as outlined in the Coast Guard Voluntary Credentialing Program Policy (COMDTINST 1540.1(series))

Early Career

1-3 years experience; Enlisted E1 through E4

Mid Career

4-10 years experience; Enlisted E5 through E6

Late Career

10+ years experience; Enlisted E7 through E9

Early Career

1-3 years experience; Enlisted “A” School through E5

Mid Career

4-10 years experience; Enlisted E6 through E7

Late Career

10+ years experience; Enlisted E8 through E9

Early Career

1-6 years experience; Officer O1 through O2

Mid Career

6-12 years experience; Officer O3 through O5

Late Career

12+ years experience; Officer O6 and Above

GI Bill®

Reimbursement for exam fees has been approved for payment through the GI Bill.

Note: GI Bill approval data is updated quarterly. For the latest information, visit the WEAMS Licenses/Certifications Search page. Make sure to select "Both" in the LAC Category Type drop-down before searching.

Click to go to the external link for GI Bill licensing and certification information.

ANAB (ANSI)

This credential has been accredited by ANAB (ANSI).

Click to go to the external ANAB web site.

ICAC

This credential has been accredited by ICAC.

Click to go to the external ICAC web site.

ABSNC

This credential has been accredited by ABSNC.

Click to go to the external ABSNC web site.

NCCA

This credentialing program has been accredited by NCCA.

Click to go to the external NCCA web site.

IAS

This credential has been accredited by IAS.

Click to go to the external IAS web site.

Low

May be difficult to attain: minimum education requirement is a Bachelor's degree, and/or minimum experience is 10 or more years.

Note: In some cases “years of experience” refers to time actively on duty or while holding a certain occupation or prior certification and not always in consecutive calendar years. Additional years required for certain preliminary stages may not be included in this classification. For requirements measured in hours, 1080 hours was considered a year. For days, 365 days was considered a year. Please review all prerequisites and requirements for eligibility, and additional information for details.

Medium

Moderate ease of attainment: minimum education requirement = Associate's and/or prerequisite and/or minimum experience = more than 2 years and less than 10 years of experience.

Note: In some cases “years of experience” refers to time actively on duty or while holding a certain occupation or prior certification and not always in consecutive calendar years. Additional years required for certain preliminary stages may not be included in this classification. For requirements measured in hours, 1080 hours was considered a year. For days, 365 days was considered a year. Please review all prerequisites and requirements for eligibility, and additional information for details.

High

Highly attainable: minimum education requirement = HS or less and/or minimum experience = 2 years or less experience and no additional requirements.

Note: In some cases “years of experience” refers to time actively on duty or while holding a certain occupation or prior certification and not always in consecutive calendar years. Additional years required for certain preliminary stages may not be included in this classification. For requirements measured in hours, 1080 hours was considered a year. For days, 365 days was considered a year. Please review all prerequisites and requirements for eligibility, and additional information for details.

MOS is Military Occupational Specialty
ASI is Additional Skill Identifier
WOMOS is Warrant Officer Military Occupational Specialty
AOC is Area Of Concentration Officer
Functional Area
Branch

Army e-learning

State-of-the art Computer Based Training available for free to the Army Workforce. Click for more information.

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NKO e-learning

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Bright Outlook – new job opportunities are very likely in the future for this job

Registered Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship program is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor. Go to the Apprenticeship Finder and enter career path or location to find apprenticeship opportunities.

Click here for External link to: My Next Move for Veterans - Air Traffic Controllers
Click here for External link to: My Next Move salary info for Air Traffic Controllers

Bright Outlook – new job opportunities are very likely in the future for this job

Click here for external link to: My Next Move for Veterans State Map for Air Traffic Controllers

This is an official U.S. Marine Corps website
Updated: July 31, 2020
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