Associate’s degrees in air traffic control can be completed at select community colleges. Those that are close to airports are often a student’s best bet to find an associate’s program, particularly one that includes internships or practical work experience. Air traffic control programs are not necessarily the most popular, but they can still be competitive because schools tend to keep programs small. This means that students will get plenty of opportunities for one-on-one learning at the best schools.
Typically, earning an associate’s degree in air traffic control is the easiest way to get started on one’s career, and because air traffic controllers command six figure salaries, these associate’s degrees tend to be among those that lead to the highest salaries. In fact, a person with an associate’s degree in air traffic control can earn more than people who have Ph.D.s, keeping in mind that this degree must be combined with a certificate earned through the Federal Aviation Administration’s 12-week training program.
Air traffic control students at community college will probably have to take certain courses to meet general requirements. These generally include courses in composition and English to help students develop their communication skills. Math courses are popularly required of associate’s degree students as well, though in some cases students can bypass these courses by proving that they mastered the fundamentals of math and English through advanced high school courses. A few associate’s degree programs require that students meet some kind of foreign language requirement.
Courses that are specific to air traffic control include introduction to air traffic control, radar and non-radar operations and aviation safety. The first course will address the fundamentals of what air traffic controllers do and the importance of their role in the aviation industry. Radar and non-radar operations courses will help students master the technology that is used to track various aircraft, and an aviation safety course will obviously address the importance of safety in air travel, with specific emphasis on the role of an air traffic controller in the safety process.
After graduating from an associate’s degree program in air traffic control, students will generally go on immediately to attend the FAA’s training academy in Oklahoma. This academy lasts 12 weeks and addresses the practical training needs of today’s air traffic controllers. Not all students who enter this program will have degree backgrounds in the area, but those that have completed associate’s degrees from community colleges in air traffic control will have a number of benefits that other students do not have. Many of the classes that students take at the associate’s level are directly related to the courses that students will take during their training course.