The primary role of a traffic controller is to direct the flow of machinery and vehicles on roads and any other work sites. Traffic controllers coordinate, setup, manage, and remove traffic control. They direct traffic in disruption areas like accidents, planned maintenance, building sites, and roadworks. They have to direct pedestrians for safety maintenance around road conditions and changed vehicles. They need to be keen on directing traffic flow.

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Traffic Controller Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real traffic controller resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Lead team providing cargo, personal property and passenger movements for DoD personnel.
  • Provide support for traffic control set-ups within ATSSA compliance and regulations.
  • Control air and grind traffic movement for private, commercial, and military aircraft in IFR and VFR conditions.
  • Ensure compliance with FAA, USAF, ANG and all local directives.
  • Register traffic controller, certify in CPR and first aid.
  • Direct staff training and the FAA qualification of facility personnel.
  • Perform CIC staff work & other duties as directed by management.
  • Provide continuous feedback to new employees to ensure safety and ATSSA compliance.
  • Maintain, repair, troubleshoot, and replace traffic signals and signal components.
  • Guide air traffic safely throughout area of operation in accordance with FAA regulations.
  • Warn workers when approaching vehicle fails to heed signals to prevent accident and injury to workers.
  • Patrol specific area on foot, or motorize conveyance, responding promptly to calls for assistance.
  • Issue pertinent notices to airmen (NOTAMS) relevant to the safety of propose flight paths.
  • Analyze, interpret and apply ATC standards in accordance with local, FAA, and USAF instructions.
  • Receive, interpret and relay notices to airmen (NOTAMS) and airmen's advisories (AIRADS).

Traffic Controller Job Description

When it comes to understanding what a traffic controller does, you may be wondering, "should I become a traffic controller?" The data included in this section may help you decide. Compared to other jobs, traffic controllers have a growth rate described as "little or no change" at 1% between the years 2018 - 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the number of traffic controller opportunities that are predicted to open up by 2028 is 300.

On average, the traffic controller annual salary is $39,099 per year, which translates to $18.8 an hour. Generally speaking, traffic controllers earn anywhere from $24,000 to $63,000 a year, which means that the top-earning traffic controllers make $67,000 more than the ones at the lower end of the spectrum.

As is the case with most jobs, it takes work to become a traffic controller. Sometimes people change their minds about their career after working in the profession. That's why we looked into some other professions that might help you find your next opportunity. These professions include a flight service specialist, flagger, flight communications officer, and aircraft dispatcher.

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Traffic Controller Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 13% of Traffic Controllers are proficient in Construction Sites, DOT, and Safety Regulations. They’re also known for soft skills such as Math skills, Organizational skills, and Problem-solving skills.

We break down the percentage of Traffic Controllers that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Construction Sites, 13%

    Direct vehicular and pedestrian traffic around construction sites.

  • DOT, 10%

    Obtained a traffic control supervisor certification from Florida dot.

  • Safety Regulations, 10%

    Set up sites direct traffic while maintaining safety regulations

  • Safety Procedures, 7%

    Adhered to safety procedures published in accordance with Department of Transportation approved practices.

  • Direct Traffic, 7%

    Direct traffic into parking destinations.

  • TMA, 6%

    Delivered product to customers/ picked up and dropped off rental equipment/drove a TMA truck at night time

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Some of the skills we found on traffic controller resumes included "construction sites," "dot," and "safety regulations." We have detailed the most important traffic controller responsibilities below.

  • Arguably the most important personality trait for a traffic controller to have happens to be math skills. An example from a resume said this about the skill, "controllers must be able to do arithmetic accurately and quickly" Additionally, other resumes have pointed out that traffic controllers can use math skills to "maintained records and statistics, including tape recordings of voice radio communications, of daily air traffic operations. "
  • Another commonly found skill for being able to perform traffic controller duties is the following: organizational skills. According to a traffic controller resume, "controllers must be able to coordinate the actions of multiple flights." Check out this example of how traffic controllers use organizational skills: "supervised and managed air traffic control facilities in accordance with organizational policies and procedures. "
  • Problem-solving skills is also an important skill for traffic controllers to have. This example of how traffic controllers use this skill comes from a traffic controller resume, "controllers must be able to understand complex situations, such as the impact of changing weather patterns on a plane’s flight path" Read this excerpt from a resume to understand how vital it is to their everyday roles and responsibilities, "traffic control/ flagger provided safe, compliant and comprehensive traffic control solutions to utility/construction/county and state companies. "
  • In order for certain traffic controller responsibilities to be completed, the job requires the skill "communication skills." According to a traffic controller resume, "air traffic controllers must be able to give clear, concise instructions, listen carefully to pilots’ requests, and respond by speaking clearly in english." As an example, this snippet was taken directly from a resume about how this skill applies: "work in conjunction with the flaggers, via two-way radio or hand signal communication, to coordinate traffic flow. "
  • See the full list of traffic controller skills.

    Before becoming a traffic controller, 21.0% earned their bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree, 2.4% traffic controllers went for the extra education. If you're wanting to pursue this career, it may be possible to be successful with a high school degree. In fact, some traffic controllers have a college degree. But about one out of every two traffic controllers didn't attend college at all.

    The traffic controllers who went onto college to earn a more in-depth education generally studied business and criminal justice, while a small population of traffic controllers studied general studies and electrical engineering.

    Once you've obtained the level of education you're comfortable with, you might start applying to companies to become a traffic controller. We've found that most traffic controller resumes include experience from Oldcastle Infrastructure, All American Financial Corp, and LaborMAX Staffing. Of recent, Oldcastle Infrastructure had 5 positions open for traffic controllers. Meanwhile, there are 3 job openings at All American Financial Corp and 3 at LaborMAX Staffing.

    If you're interested in companies where traffic controllers make the most money, you'll want to apply for positions at Siemens, Novant Health, and Centene. We found that at Siemens, the average traffic controller salary is $62,057. Whereas at Novant Health, traffic controllers earn roughly $48,013. And at Centene, they make an average salary of $43,916.

    View more details on traffic controller salaries across the United States.

    If you earned a degree from the top 100 educational institutions in the United States, you might want to take a look at Federal Aviation Administration, Us Navy, and United States Marine. These three companies have hired a significant number of traffic controllers from these institutions.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious traffic controllers are:

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    What Flight Service Specialists Do

    A flagger is an employee who is hired by government agencies or construction companies to control the flow of traffic around road construction sites. To control the flow of traffic, flaggers must erect warning signs and position traffic cones and barricades to guide drivers through the traffic flow. They are responsible for informing the construction crew of any issues that may affect their safety. Flaggers are also required to record the license plate numbers of motorists who did not obey traffic signs and directions.

    We looked at the average traffic controller annual salary and compared it with the average of a flight service specialist. Generally speaking, flight service specialists receive $9,125 higher pay than traffic controllers per year.

    There are some key differences in responsibilities as well. For example, a traffic controller responsibilities require skills like "construction sites," "dot," "safety regulations," and "safety procedures." Meanwhile a typical flight service specialist has skills in areas such as "flight operations," "icao," "dod," and "local agencies." This difference in skills reveals how truly different these two careers really are.

    On average, flight service specialists reach similar levels of education than traffic controllers. Flight service specialists are 3.7% more likely to earn a Master's Degree and 0.0% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of a Flagger?

    Next up, we have the flagger profession to look over. This career brings along a lower average salary when compared to a traffic controller annual salary. In fact, flaggers salary difference is $9,615 lower than the salary of traffic controllers per year.

    Not everything about these jobs is different. Take their skills, for example. Traffic controllers and flaggers both include similar skills like "construction sites," "safety regulations," and "direct traffic" on their resumes.

    While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that traffic controller responsibilities requires skills like "dot," "safety procedures," "tma," and "traffic cones." But a flagger might use skills, such as, "work ethic," "asphalt," "work boots," and "atssa."

    It's been discovered that flaggers earn lower salaries compared to traffic controllers, but we wanted to find out where flaggers earned the most pay. The answer? The construction industry. The average salary in the industry is $30,808. Additionally, traffic controllers earn the highest paychecks in the non profits with an average salary of $58,262.

    On the topic of education, flaggers earn similar levels of education than traffic controllers. In general, they're 2.0% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.0% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a Flight Communications Officer Compares

    The flight communications officer profession generally makes a higher amount of money when compared to the average salary of traffic controllers. The difference in salaries is flight communications officers making $17,396 higher than traffic controllers.

    There are many key differences between these two careers as shown by resumes from each profession. Some of those differences include the skills required to complete responsibilities within each role. As an example of this, a traffic controller is likely to be skilled in "construction sites," "dot," "safety regulations," and "safety procedures," while a typical flight communications officer is skilled in "logistics," "air transportation," "flight schedules," and "combat."

    When it comes to education, flight communications officers tend to earn higher education levels than traffic controllers. In fact, they're 10.1% more likely to earn a Master's Degree, and 0.0% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of an Aircraft Dispatcher

    The fourth career we look at typically earns higher pay than traffic controllers. On average, aircraft dispatchers earn a difference of $5,428 higher per year.

    Each job requires different skills like "construction sites," "dot," "safety regulations," and "safety procedures," which might show up on a traffic controller resume. Whereas aircraft dispatcher might include skills like "flight operations," "maintenance control," "on-the-job training," and "aircraft maintenance."

    The average resume of aircraft dispatchers showed that they earn similar levels of education to traffic controllers. So much so that the likelihood of them earning a Master's Degree is 3.9% more. Additionally, they're more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree by 0.3%.