Prospective candidates for air traffic control could be categorized into two main groups. The first group consists of air traffic controllers with past experience through either the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or the Department of Defense. The second group consists of common people who need to have at least three years of significant work experience after completion of a full four years of graduation.
To be eligible for the role of an air traffic controller with the FAA, a candidate must achieve qualifying scores (70 or above) on the authorized employment test administered by the FAA. Some exceptions are made for military veterans or those having exceptional experience in the field. The scores remain valid for three years. Those candidates who lack prior air traffic control experience need to be 30 years of age or less. Besides these qualifications, intelligence, decisiveness and a good memory also become highly essential.
Initially, a fresh hire will begin work as a new controller and will be later promoted to the designation of ground controller, local controller, departure controller, and, lastly, arrival controller. New hires are also required to undergo training once he or she has been shortlisted in the preliminary tests. A twelve week training program at the FAA Academy teaches them about FAA regulations, different characteristics of aircraft performance, controller equipment, airway system fundamentals and other necessary duties.