How Much do Air Traffic Controllers Make per Year?

Air traffic controllers in the United States typically earn a salary that falls within a range of $70,000 to $200,000 per year, depending on several factors, including their experience level, the type of facility they work at, and their level of certification. The median annual salary for air traffic controllers in the United States is around $129,750, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Air traffic controllers working at smaller, non-radar facilities earn lower salaries than those working at larger radar facilities. In addition, controllers who have been in the field for longer generally earn higher wages than those just starting in the field.

It’s important to note that the salary of an air traffic controller can also be influenced by other factors such as their location, the demand for controllers in their region, and the cost of living where they work. Air traffic controllers who work in urban areas with a high cost of living may earn higher salaries than those who work in rural areas with a lower cost of living.

What is the average hourly wage for an air traffic controller in the United States?

According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for an air traffic controller in the United States is $38.52. However, this wage can range from as low as $16.83 to as high as $81.25 per hour, depending on various factors.

One reason for this wide range is the air traffic controller’s experience and education level. Those with more experience and advanced degrees may be able to command higher wages. Another factor is the location of the job. Air traffic controllers in major cities or high-traffic airports may be paid more due to the increased demand for their services.

Additionally, the type of employer can also affect wages. Air traffic controllers working for the federal government may be paid differently than those working for private companies. Finally, collective bargaining agreements and union members can also impact wages for air traffic controllers.

Why do air traffic controllers have to be under 31?

Air traffic controllers must be under 31 because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has an age requirement for air traffic controller candidates. According to the FAA, candidates must be at least 18 years old and under 31 at the appointment time. This age requirement is in place because the FAA wants to ensure that air traffic controllers have the physical and mental ability to handle demanding and a high-stress job.

Why does ATC pay so much?

Air traffic controllers are paid a high salary because they are responsible for the safety and efficiency of air traffic control in the United States. They must have a high level of training and expertise to manage and coordinate aircraft movement in the airspace effectively.

In addition, air traffic controllers work long and irregular hours, often in high-stress environments, which can be physically and mentally demanding. The high salary is intended to compensate for these challenges and reflect the importance and responsibility of the job.

What state pays the most for air traffic controllers?

Virginia has the highest salary for air traffic controllers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Virginia has 1,090 employees at an annual mean wage of $73.29 per hour and $152,450 annual mean wage. The state also has the lowest unemployment rate at 2.6 percent as of August 2022.

Do air traffic controllers make six figures?

Due to the high responsibility and expertise required for this role, air traffic controllers often earn salaries in the six-figure range.

One of the primary reasons for this is the training and education required to become an air traffic controller. Most controllers must complete a rigorous training program and pass a series of exams before being certified to work in this field. This training can be time-consuming and costly, and it is typically provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In addition to the training requirements, air traffic controllers must possess strong attention to detail and excellent communication skills. They must be able to make quick and accurate decisions in high-stress situations, and they must be able to work well under pressure. These skills and abilities are highly sought after in the aviation industry and are often compensated with higher salaries.

Overall, while the exact salary of an air traffic controller can vary depending on their level of experience and location, it is not uncommon for these professionals to earn six figures. They play a critical role in ensuring the safety and efficiency of air travel, and they are often compensated accordingly.

Is becoming an air traffic controller worth it?

Becoming an air traffic controller can be a rewarding career choice for those interested in working in the aviation industry and can meet the rigorous requirements and qualifications. Some potential benefits of becoming an air traffic controller include the following:

  • Competitive salary: Air traffic controllers typically earn a high salary, with the median annual wage for this occupation being over $129,000 annually in the United States
  • Job security: Air traffic control is an essential service, and as such, the demand for qualified controllers is expected to remain stable in the coming years
  • Responsibility: Air traffic controllers ensure the flying public’s safety. This can be a gratifying experience for those who take pride in their work and are committed to public safety

However, becoming an air traffic controller is not for everyone. The job can be physically and mentally demanding, and controllers must be able to cope with stressful environments. 


The salary of an air traffic controller can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as location, experience, and type of facility. According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration, the average annual salary for an air traffic controller is around $129,000. However, some controllers earn as much as $200,000 annually, while others make more than $90,000. Overall, it is clear that air traffic controllers can expect to earn a good money, with the potential for higher earnings with more experience and advancement in the field.