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Career and Education Opportunities for Air Traffic Controllers in Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for air traffic controllers. Currently, 380 people work as air traffic controllers in Arizona. This is expected to grow by 23% to about 470 people by 2016. This is better than the national trend for air traffic controllers, which sees this job pool growing by about 13.1% over the next eight years. In general, air traffic controllers control air traffic on and within vicinity of airport and movement of air traffic between altitude sectors and control centers according to established procedures and policies.

Air traffic controllers earn approximately $39 per hour or $81,250 annually on average in Arizona. Nationally they average about $53 per hour or $111,870 annually. Incomes for air traffic controllers are better than in the overall category of Air in Arizona, and better than the overall Air category nationally.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Phoenix where you can study to be an air traffic controller, among seventy-six schools of higher education total in the Phoenix area. Air traffic controllers usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so it will take only a short time to learn to be an air traffic controller if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Air Traffic Controller

Air Traffic Controller video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, air traffic controllers control air traffic on and within vicinity of airport and movement of air traffic between altitude sectors and control centers according to established procedures and policies. They also authorize, regulate, and control commercial airline flights according to government or company regulations to expedite and ensure flight safety.

Air traffic controllers monitor aircraft within a specific airspace, using radar, computer equipment, and visual references. They also inform pilots about nearby planes as well as potentially hazardous conditions such as weather, speed and direction of wind, and visibility problems. Equally important, air traffic controllers have to maintain radio and telephone contact with adjacent control towers, terminal control units, and other area control centers so as to direct aircraft movement. They are often called upon to alert airport emergency services in cases of emergency and when aircraft are experiencing difficulties. They are expected to monitor and direct the movement of aircraft within an assigned air space and on the ground at airports to minimize delays and maximize safety. Finally, air traffic controllers transfer control of departing flights to traffic control centers and accept control of arriving flights.

Every day, air traffic controllers are expected to be able to split focus between different tasks. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment.

It is important for air traffic controllers to initiate and direct searches for missing aircraft. They are often called upon to issue landing and take-off authorizations and instructions. They also compile data related to flights from flight plans and observations. They are sometimes expected to direct pilots to runways when space is available, or direct them to maintain a traffic pattern until there is space for them to land. Somewhat less frequently, air traffic controllers are also expected to initiate and direct searches for missing aircraft.

They also have to be able to relay to control centers such air traffic data as courses and expected arrival times and furnish flight path changes or directions to emergency landing fields for pilots traveling in bad weather or in emergency situations. And finally, they sometimes have to examine and control radio equipment and airport lights.

Like many other jobs, air traffic controllers must be able to deal with stress and deal with situations calmly and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Phoenix include:

  • Air Cargo Supervisor. Direct ground crew in the loading, unloading, and staging of aircraft cargo or baggage. Determine the quantity and orientation of cargo and compute aircraft center of gravity. May accompany aircraft as member of flight crew and monitor and handle cargo in flight, and assist and brief passengers on safety and emergency procedures.
  • Airline Pilot. Pilot and navigate the flight of multi-engine aircraft in regularly scheduled service for the transport of passengers and cargo. Requires Federal Air Transport rating and certification in specific aircraft type used.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Air Traffic Controller Training

Arizona State University - Tempe, AZ

Arizona State University, , Tempe, AZ 85287. Arizona State University is a large university located in Tempe, Arizona. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 67,082 students and an admission rate of 82%. Arizona State University has a bachelor's degree program in Air Traffic Controller which graduated one student in 2008.


Airmen Certification: Include the following areas:

  • Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for Flight Engineers, Flight Navigators, Aircraft Dispatchers, and Control Tower Operators
  • 8610-1 (PDF) - Mechanic's Application for Inspection Authorization
  • Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for Mechanics, Repairman, and Parachute Riggers
  • Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for Pilots, Flight Instructors and Ground Instructors
  • Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for Sport Pilot


Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona photo by Urban

Phoenix is located in Maricopa County, Arizona. It has a population of over 1,567,924, which has grown by 18.7% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Phoenix, 93, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Phoenix cost $218,200 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, 2,176 new homes were built in Phoenix, down from 6,560 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Phoenix are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, administrative and support and waste management services, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 26 minutes. More than 22.7% of Phoenix residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 7.6%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Phoenix is 10.0%, which is greater than Arizona's average of 9.3%.

The percentage of Phoenix residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 39.7%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. San Francisco Xavier and Good Shepherd Convent are among the churches located in Phoenix. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Phoenix is home to the Arizona Highway Patrol Headquarters and the Gila Valley Lookout as well as Indian Bend Park and Stephen Park. Shopping centers in the area include Alta Vista Shopping Center, Arcadia Plaza Shopping Center and Arcadia Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Phoenix can choose from Four Seasons Limousine LLC, Maricopa Manor B&B Inn and Motel 6 for temporary stays in the area.