Ground Controller

Direct all sizes of aircraft while on the tarmac, from gate to take-off.
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Quick Stats

Salary Range
$54,000 – $166,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Ground Controllers do?

Planes are meant to fly, but they also have to land and take off again. Busy airports push hundreds of flights in and out each day, so the tarmac can become as congested as New York during rush hour. To avoid accidents and offer Pilots guidance, Ground Controllers help direct planes between the terminal and the runway.

All Controllers work to keep a safe distance between planes, whether in the air or on the ground. As a Ground Controller, you’re no exception. You take control of directing the plane as soon as it begins to back away from the terminal gates. You verify which runway it will depart from, and keep the Pilot informed about weather and runway conditions.

Being a Ground Controller means working as part of a team of qualified Controllers. For example, the Clearance Delivery Controller works with the Pilot before the flight to verify altitude, radio contact, and routing information. Once you have the plane pointed nose forward on the runway, you turn it over to the Tower Local Controller, who offers visual guidance until the Pilot has all wheels off the ground. You also direct planes from the time they land until they reach the terminal gates.

This job requires you to have your head in the game at all times. Losing focus can mean directing a plane onto the wrong runway or giving inaccurate information. You also need strong communication skills and the ability to make quick decisions.

Should I be a Ground Controller?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • How to become a Ground Controller

    Most Ground Controllers have a Certificate or higher. Chart?chd=s:9ltqab&chl=no+college+%2845%25%29|certificate+%2827%25%29|associate%27s+%2814%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2812%25%29||doctorate+%281%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,45,45
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