UAA Aviation Tech Radar Lab

The UAA Air Traffic Control program prepares students for hire at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Training Academy. The AAS in Air Traffic Control also prepares students to take the FAA Flight Dispatcher exam and prepares them for entry-level jobs in the flight dispatch field.

Filler photoAir Traffic Controller

Filler photoTower Operator

Important Note

UAA has no restrictions on age or physical condition of students to participate in the degree program. However, students desiring employment with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should be aware of employment requirements:

  • Most applicants must apply for employment with the FAA prior to their 31st birthday to be eligible for consideration. Certain exceptions may apply for those with previous ATC experience.
  • Medical Certificate is required per FAR 65.49 and 67 Subpart C.
  • For employment considerations with the FAA, students must receive a PASS score on the Air Traffic-Selection and Training (ATSAT) examination administered by the FAA. The examination provides a systematic process for continued enhancement of air traffic selection and training by testing candidates for recognition and cognitive skills required in the air traffic specialty and to identify the “composite controller.”

Learn more about the FAA Collegiate Training Initiative

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What do air traffic controllers do?    

    Air traffic controllers monitor and direct air traffic in order to ensure there is a safe amount of separation between aircraft.  Controllers communicate with pilots by radio, giving instructions and providing information on weather, airport conditions, and positions of nearby aircraft. There are three types of air traffic controllers:

    • Tower Controllers: These controllers coordinate and direct traffic for aircraft that are landing, taking off, or moving from one place to another at an airport.  This includes ground movement of airplanes and service vehicles on taxiways and runways.
    • TRACON Controllers: TRACON stands for Terminal Radar Approach Control Center.  These controllers monitor and direct traffic near areas with one or more high-traffic airports.
    • En-Route Controllers:  These controllers work at Air Route Traffic Control Centers, managing large geographical areas and working with pilots to maintain safe distance between aircraft as they travel from one airport to another.  
  •   How do I become an air traffic controller?

    Anyone can apply to become an air traffic controller with the FAA, as long as they meet the application requirements.  Applicants with qualifying military experience and graduates from Collegiate Training Initiative (‘CTI’) programs like the one at UAA are eligible for a selective applicant pool that provides a significant hiring advantage.   Applications are typically available once a year, often in June, but this is subject to change according to the needs of the FAA.

    After applying, applicants who are selected for the next hiring phase will be invited to take the Air Traffic Skills Assessment ('AT-SA').  The AT-SA is a proctored aptitude test broken out into multiple subsections that evaluate memory, spatial relationships, air traffic control skills, problem solving, personality, and reading comprehension.  

    After getting hired by the FAA as an Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee, new-hires will be given a date to begin training at the FAA Air Traffic Academy in Oklahoma City. Training at the academy will last approximately four months, after which trainees will receive their first facility assignment.  Facility assignment is based on the needs of the FAA, but academy graduates are able to submit their preference for job placement/location.  Preference is awarded according to academy class standing. 

    Please note, these are the FAA's current practices, but they are subject to change.

  •   What kind of training will I go through in the UAA Air Traffic Control program?

    UAA’s Air Traffic Control curriculum is a combination of academic and hands-on training.  The first semester focuses on foundational knowledge of ATC regulations, procedures, and techniques.  With that foundation, second-semester students are able to move into the lab environment where they can apply their knowledge and develop their skills in a highly realistic control tower simulator.

    Second-year students then proceed into courses for TRACON and En-Route control.  Labs for these courses are conducted using an advanced radar simulator, giving students a chance to practice the procedures and techniques they’ll use as air traffic controllers.  The second-year curriculum also includes courses that prepare students for an aircraft dispatcher certification.

    Aircraft dispatchers, also known as flight followers, are airline employees who work closely with pilots to plan and execute flights, taking into account factors such as weather, fuel usage, aircraft performance, and airspace restrictions to ensure flights are conducted safely and efficiently.  They are sometimes referred to as the ‘pilot on the ground.’  Upon successful completion of the flight dispatcher exam, graduates are eligible for hire as flight dispatchers with an airline. 

  •   Can I go to school and work at the same time? 
    Absolutely!  Many of our students work part time jobs while going to school.  Some students also work full time, but that can be more difficult.  Since most classes will fall between the hours of 10:00am-5:00pm Monday-Thursday, we recommend keeping those hours available.   Many third and fourth semester students are also afforded the opportunity to work in the ATC labs. 
  •   Are there summer classes?
     ATC classes are only offered in fall and spring semesters, but UAA has a variety of general education classes available during summer semesters.  Students sometimes opt to take some of their general education classes during the summer between year one and year two.     
  •   Are there restrictions on age or physical conditions for air traffic controllers or aircraft dispatchers?

    UAA has no restrictions on age or physical condition of students participating in the degree program.  However, applicants to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must be under 31 years old at the time of application for an air traffic control position.  Additionally, air traffic controllers must be able to pass an FAA class II medical exam to ensure they are healthy enough to safely perform job duties. 

    The minimum age to become certified as an aircraft dispatcher is 23, but there is no maximum age.  Aircraft dispatchers are not required to pass a medical exam.