Air Space Order: Air Traffic Controller Salary and Employment

Some air traffic controllers receive their training in the military.
Some air traffic controllers receive their training in the military. | Source

Air traffic controller salary and employment depends on communication technology, which enables commercial flights to safely traverse air space around the world. Air traffic controllers specify how and when aircraft can take off and land at airports. They often guide several planes and radio several pilots at the same time. The total concentration required for the position can be highly stressful. Though they work a 40-hour week, their shifts can run evenings, weekends and holidays, because many towers and control centers operate 24 hours a day. They can work overtime to receive premium pay or additional time off.

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin.

Basics

According to the U.S. Labor Department, the mean air traffic controller salary is $53.02 per hour or $110,280 per year.

  • The lowest paid 10 percent make $26.19 per hour or $54,480 per year. The highest earning 10 percent get $79.64 per hour or $165,660 per year.
  • Almost 93 percent of the nation’s 23,970 air traffic controllers work for the Federal Aviation Administration under the U.S. government. They receive the highest mean salaries of $54.29 per hour or $112,920 per year.
  • The next highest job levels are in support activities for air transportation, where 990 earn a mean $33.03 per hour or $68,710 per year, and scheduled air transportation, where 120 make a mean $36.57 per hour or $76,080 per year.
  • The next highest paying employers are nonscheduled air transportation at a mean $53.72 per hour or $111,740 per year, and management, scientific and technical consulting services at a mean $44.42 per hour or $92,400 per year.

States

With states, employment for air traffic controllers follows population.

  1. California, the most populated state, shows 2,390 jobs at a mean $55.47 per hour or $115,390 per year.
  2. Texas, second-ranked for population, has 2,230 positions earning a mean $56.32 per hour or $117,140 per year.
  3. Florida, which is third for people, contains 1,840 controllers averaging $51.70 per hour or $107,530 per year.

The highest air traffic controller salary is found in the following states.

  1. The Labor Department classifies the District of Columbia with states, and shows pay here at a mean $64.29 per hour or $133,740 per year.
  2. New Hampshire has mean wages at $61.66 per hour or $128,250 per year.
  3. Both Virginia and Illinois shows averages of $61.28 per hour or $127,470 per year.

Cities

The cities with the most jobs for air traffic controllers are as follows.

  1. Washington DC shows 1,300 positions with mean wages at $63.49 per hour or $132,010 per year.
  2. Atlanta, Georgia, has 890 jobs at a mean $60.45 per hour or $125,740 per year.
  3. Chicago, Illinois, also has 890 jobs but at the higher averages of $65.17 per hour or $135,550 per year.

The following cities show the best air traffic controller salary.

  1. Chicago, Illinois, and Washington DC top the list.
  2. Cleveland, Ohio, shows mean pay of $62.54 per hour or $130,090 per year.
  3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has averages of $61.44 per hour or $127,790 per year.

Rural Areas

Air traffic controllers show far fewer jobs in the rural areas of the country.

  1. Southwest Alaska has 110 positions averaging a mean $32.54 per hour or $67,680 per year.
  2. Southeast Alaska has 50 jobs at a mean $35.52 per hour or $73,890 per year.
  3. The nonmetropolitan areas of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai, shows 50 positions with means at $31.42 per hour or $65,350 per year.

Eastern New Mexico shows the highest air traffic controller salary for rural areas at $36.60 per hour or $76,130 per year. Ranking next for salary are Southeast Alaska, Southwest Alaska, and then the rural areas of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai.

Air traffic controller salary is generally negotiated by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

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