The Future of Air Traffic Careers
Like the area they keep open for airplanes, the career of air traffic controllers looks clear. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), air traffic controllers will be experiencing "as fast as the average" employment growth through 2018. "The employment of air traffic controllers is projected to grow by 13% from 2008 to 2018," they report.
One item to keep an eye out for, however, is an increased amount of air traffic, which will require more air traffic controllers to take on the load. The BLS says that job growth isn't necessarily expected to keep pace with the growing number of aircraft that will be flying due to technological growth.
The Federal Aviation Administration, however, is implementing an automated air traffic control system, which will allow controllers to do their jobs more efficiently. In this case, the technology involved in an increased number of aircraft will match well with the advancement of technology within the air control systems.
According to the BLS, future developments by the FAA will be made with the use of GPS (Global Positioning System) technology that will get rid of radar-based air traffic, which is the current mode. "This will allow for more efficient flight paths and reduced air traffic congestion, and it will also allow controllers to handle more traffic, increasing their productivity," says the BLS.
A major factor in any job is not just knowing that it has a future, but that you can make money doing it. Luckily for air traffic controllers, this is one such job that generally offers high pay and great benefits to its employees. According to the BLS, the average salary in 2008 of air traffic controllers was $111,870. The average salary for controllers who were employed by the Federal Government (which employs 90% of controllers), was just a tad lower at $109,218 per year in 2009. The following is a further breakdown of the numbers, courtesy of BLS:
- The middle 50% of employees earned between $71,050 and $143,780 per year.
- The lowest 10% earned less than $45,020 annually.
- The highest 10% earned more than $161,010 per year.
Aside from salary, being an air traffic controller comes with a nice set of benefits. Although most of the following benefits depend on experience and length of employment, they are a nice perk to the job.
- Controllers receive between 13 and 26 days of paid vacation time.
- They receive 13 days of paid sick leave each year.
- Life insurance
- Health benefits
- Retirement is offered at an early age of 50 if the controller has 20 years of service; if they have 25 years of service, retirement can happen at any age.
- Union membership is also common from the Air Traffic Controllers Association.