AC-Air Traffic Controller

Rating Description

Air Traffic Controllers (AC) provide air traffic control services in air traffic control towers, radar air traffic control facilities, fleet area control and surveillance facilities, and air operations offices ashore and afloat; operate radio communication systems and light signals; direct aircraft under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR); operate surveillance radar, precision radar, data link approach systems, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment and other air traffic control equipment; respond to emergency air traffic situations; maintain current flight planning information and reference material; and assist pilots in preparing and processing flight plans. For more detailed information, see the Rating Information Card.

There are currently no credentials closely related to the tasks performed in this Rating that may be attainable as soon as Class "A" technical school has been completed. However, there are 2 credentials that may be attainable within four years of initial enlistement. Select "< 4 Years" for the "Experience after 'A' School" filter in the "Related Credentials" section below to view these credentials.

Voluntary Education

In addition to obtaining certifications in your field, voluntary education is another way to enhance job performance. Options for voluntary education include:

For help in making informed choices on schools and education programs when using tuition assistance, see:

Navy Learning Center Recommended Degrees for AC-Air Traffic Controller

The following occupational-related degrees are recommended by the Navy Learning Center and are listed in the Navy Learning and Development Roadmap (LaDR) for AC.

Recommended Associate Degrees

  • Emphasis in Air Traffic Control
  • Emphasis in Aviation

Recommended Bachelor/Master Degrees

  • A Bachelor's Degree in Professional Aeronautics, Technical Management etc.
  • Emphasis in Air Traffic Control
  • Emphasis in Aviation
  • Emphasis in Aviation/ Management
  • Emphasis in Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Additional Information

Additional information pertaining to AC-Air Traffic Controller can be found below.

At the FAA, Air Traffic Control Specialists (ATCS) have three distinct areas of specialization :

  1. Terminal (Tower) Controllers, who control air traffic at airports and give pilots taxiing and takeoff instruction, air traffic clearances and advice
  2. En Route Center Controllers, who give aircraft instructions, air traffic clearances, and advice regarding flight conditions while en route between airports
  3. Flight Service Station Controllers, who provide preflight, in-flight and emergency assistance to all pilots on request

In addition to an Air Traffic Controller certificate, air traffic control specialists must possess :

  • A rating for the facility to which they are assigned. This facility rating requires a demonstrated knowledge of the kind and location of radio aids to air navigation, the terrain, the landmarks, the communications systems and circuits, and the procedures peculiar to the area covered by the facility. All required certificates and ratings must be obtained within time limits established by the agency management.
  • At least a second class Medical Examination detailed in 14 CFR Part 67. Medical examinations must be conducted by a FAA-designated Aviation Medical Examiner.

Although there are provisions for hiring individuals with no previous air traffic controller experience, as of early 2002, the FAA is only hiring graduates of FAA-approved post-secondary educational programs, current or former federal employees (including former military members eligible for a Veteran's Readjustment Appointment), or Retired Military Air Traffic Controllers for positions in the En Route Center or Terminal specialty areas.

To be eligible for the program, you must meet all of the following criteria :

  • Be on terminal leave pending retirement from active duty military service or have retired from active duty military service on or after September 17, 1999.
  • Have received either an air traffic control specialist certification and/or a facility rating according to FAA standards.
  • Meet all application, qualification and position requirements, including applicable medical and security requirements.

Controllers hired under this program are given time-limited appointments, meaning that their appointments will have a specific termination date attached to them. The initial appointment may be up to 10 years and may not exceed the last day of the month in which the controller turns age 56. Appointments can be extended for up to five years at a time.

You will be required to submit a Retired Military Controller Specialist Job Application and proof of your retired status (Form DD 214). Do not submit the OF-612 federal job application form. Other FAA Application Forms you may need are located at the FAA website.

Eligibility requirements, privileges, and performance standards for Air Traffic Tower Operators and Aircraft Dispatchers are detailed in 14 CFR Part 65.

Collateral Duty / Out of Rate Assignments

Navy collateral duties/out of rate assignments play a vital role in the day-to-day operations and duties that Officers and Enlisted Sailors perform. Certifications and licenses are also available in these collateral duties/out of rate assignments, so please go to the Collateral Duty/Out of Rate Assignments search feature and explore more opportunities to get certified (click "Find" on the side of this page, go to the "Enlisted Search" section, then use the "- Select Collateral Duty -" drop-down list).

A BIBLIOGRAPHY is provided by the Navy Advancement Center (NAC) to document the REFERENCES used by a subject matter expert (a Navy Chief in the rating) as the basis for writing the items on the Active Duty and Reserve Navy Advancement Exams. If a reference has been updated since the exam was created and differs from the reference listed here, the information in the updated reference will be used as the basis for scoring the exam.

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