FAA Air Traffic Control Program (Collegiate Training initiative CTI)
- Aviation Management Information
- Aviation Management Plan of Study
- Minors in Aeronautical Engineering Technology
The FAA Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) was implemented in response to the FAA's projected future needs for air traffic controllers. Hiring trends are expected to increase dramatically over the next decade, and the FAA has implemented partnership agreements with selected colleges to prepare students for potential hiring of air traffic controllers. Purdue University is one of only 23 colleges selected to participate in this unique program. The FAA implemented these partnership agreements in October 1997 and added additional schools in 2007. These colleges will serve as some of the primary hiring sources for FAA air traffic control specialists. Purdue University is designated as one of five colleges serving the FAA's Great Lakes region in this new program.
To qualify for hiring by the FAA as an air traffic controller, it is necessary for potential students to: (1) complete a four year degree in aviation technology at Purdue, (2) hold U.S. citizenship, (3) be less than 30 years of age at time of hiring by the FAA, and (4) successfully complete an FAA aptitude test (to be administered during the student's enrollment at Purdue University). Additionally, during the hiring process, students must pass an FAA physical exam, drug test, and intensive security and background investigations.
After completion of the BS degree in aviation technology at Purdue, if their performance meets all requirements, students will be recommended for hiring to the FAA. Students employed by the FAA will then complete their training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City as paid employees of the FAA. This training is primarily laboratory simulation. FAA Academy training lasts 12-15 weeks, depending on the specialty into which the student is hired. Starting salary is approximately $25,000 per year, including the initial training at the FAA Academy. Maximum salaries can eventually exceed $90,000.
When applying to the FAA for employment, applicants will be given the opportunity to indicate their geographic hiring preference. Completion of Purdue's CTI program does not guarantee employment, although it is one of the FAA's primary paths for the hiring of air traffic controllers. Other hiring paths include the hiring of controllers leaving the military. Eventual assignment will be either to the Terminal Option (control tower and radar approach facilities) or the Enroute Option (Air Route Traffic Control Centers such as those located in Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland or Minneapolis.)
All AT students may add the CTI Air Traffic Control Option if desired. To be eligible to add the CTI Air Traffic Control endorsement to your AM degree program, you must complete your degree in Aviation Management with the following specific courses included in the degree program (no substitutions). Students must obtain a grade of "C" or better in the required courses to be eligible for CTI endorsement.
AT 101 Gateway to Aviation Technology (required for all Aviation Technology majors)
AT 103 Environment, Energy & Propulsion (required for all Aviation Technology majors)
AT 203 Aviation Operations Management (required for all Aviation Technology majors)
AT 369 Air Traffic Control (may be used as an AM Selective)
AT 479 Control Tower Operator (may be used as an AM Selective)
In addition to Purdue coursework, candidates for the CTI program must complete the online Air Traffic Control Preparation course and associated examination.
This course is designed to prepare individuals for success in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controller training program. Through the use of online lectures, programmed learning workbooks, presentations, and exams, this course will cover all the material required prior to employment by the FAA. This material includes air traffic control procedures, federal aviation regulations, aviation weather observation and reporting, principles of navigation, and the use and interpretation of aeronautical charts. Offered through Continuing Education , it has a separate fee. Students have access to the material for three years upon enrollment. Students must obtain a minimum of 80% on each section of the examination.
In most cases you must be hired into the FAA prior to age 31. Taking into consideration that it can sometimes take 1 to 3 years to be hired you should be considering this occupation by age 27 or so. If you are over 31 years of age, the FAA will not hire you as an Air Traffic Control Specialist unless you are an ex PATCO controller or a military controller eligible under The "Phoenix Controller 20" Program or you qualify under the VRA program. The minimum requirement is a High School diploma and some general work experience. You do not need to be a pilot or have extensive aviation knowledge.
In the past few years only six types of individuals have been hired as Air Traffic Control Specialists:
ex- PATCO Controllers - these are members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization that were fired by President Reagan in the 1981 controller's strike. Per President Clinton fired PATCO controllers are now eligible to be rehired, and we have seen PATCO controllers reentering the work force.
DOD controllers - these are military controllers or civilian controllers working at military facilities.
REHIRED Controllers - a "rehire" is a controller who use to work with the FAA, then spent time away from the agency (they left FAA employment) and now they are returning i.e. "rehired."
CTI's - CTI stands for Collegiate Training Initiative, these are controllers who have attended one of the 23 FAA approved colleges that have an ATC education program. View the Student CTI Handbook Supplement.
CONTRACT Controllers - these are controllers that have worked with one of the several contract ATC companies that provide privatized ATC services at low level activity Air Traffic Control Towers. They may or may not be PATCO or CTI.
The "Phoenix Controller 20" Program - Throughout 1999, the DOD worked with the FAA to establish a program allowing retiring military controllers an opportunity of employment with the FAA. This project is commonly referred to as "Phoenix Controller 20" or PC-20. The end result of the PC-20 effort is a change to the FAA's age policy, detailed in an FAA program known as the "Employment of Military Air Traffic Controllers Program." This program now allows retired military air traffic controllers to apply for controller jobs in the FAA despite being over age 30.
How do you get hired if you don't fit into any of the above categories? You have three options:
OPTION A - Wait until the FAA once again offers the civil service written examination for the position of Air Traffic Controller (the FAA will occasionally offer these tests in limited geographical areas. Check jobs.faa.gov for more details).
OPTION B - Become a CTI by attending and graduating from one of the 23 FAA approved colleges that offer an ATC education program.
OPTION C - Join the military as an air traffic controller. Apply to and be accepted by the FAA after you finish your tour of duty.
If you do not have military experience as a controller, the best way for a non-military person to enter ATC is through the Collegiate Training Initiative. Purdue's program is one of 23 spread throughout the country. Find a list of the other schools and general information concerning the CTI program here.
- Official FAA employment information
- Admission and cost information at Purdue University
- A website operated by all of the CTI schools is located at www.atccti.com
- Additional information concerning FAA education and employment programs and the ATC hiring process can be obtained at http://www.faa.gov/education