Tower Local Controller

Oversee and direct every plane on the tarmac to and from the gate.
picture of Tower Local Controller

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$54,000 – $166,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Tower Local Controllers do?

That huge Air Traffic Controller tower overlooking the runway at the airport offers fantastic views in every direction. That’s a good thing, because it houses the Tower Local Controller, who uses her standpoint to direct planes on and off the runways.

As a Tower Local Controller, you work as part of a team of Controllers who help Pilots maneuver to and from the runway, down the airstrip, through the skies, and safely to their destination. By the time the Pilot is on the other end of your radio, she’s already confirmed a flight plan with the Clearance Delivery Controller, and been guided to the runway by the Ground Controller. Your job is to get her into the air without incident.

That means you’re aware of every other plane preparing to land and those already on the runways. In busy airports, there may be only a few minutes between one plane taking off and the next following close behind, so your duties as a Tower Local Controller keep you on your toes.

When the Pilot has safely completed take-off, you turn her over to the TRACON Departure Controller and move your attention to the next plane in the lineup. In addition to planes departing, you assist planes coming in for a landing. You give the Pilot clearance to land, confirm details, and relay information about runway and weather conditions. With your extra set of eyes, Pilots safely arrive and depart dozens, or even hundreds, of times each day.


Should I be a Tower Local Controller?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Control-Tower-Radio Operator, Flight-Control-Tower Operator, Tower Control Operator

    How to become a Tower Local Controller

    Most Tower Local 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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