How Do I Become a Navy Air Traffic Controller?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Many countries in the world hire air traffic controllers specifically to support naval operations, and the enlistment requirements and training procedures will vary from country to country. In the United States, to become a Navy air traffic controller, you must first meet the eligibility requirements and successfully complete boot camp. Then, expect specialized training in your field before you can go to work in a naval facility or on a carrier ship.

Navy air traffic controllers must attend "A" school.
Navy air traffic controllers must attend "A" school.

The first step in joining any branch of the military is to talk to a recruiter. A U.S. Navy recruiter will evaluate a candidate's eligibility and discuss the enlistment process. He will also answer any questions about training, benefits, and working as an air traffic controller. Recruits should consider the different methods of enlistment, such as the delayed entry program (DEP), which allows enlistment immediately, but defers active duty for a time. Navy recruits can also take advantage of the undergraduate program, which allows them to join the Navy while attending school.

An aspiring Navy air traffic controller will be required to pass a physical exam.
An aspiring Navy air traffic controller will be required to pass a physical exam.

This branch of service has strict enlistment requirements for air traffic controller recruits. To be eligible for this job, you must have normal hearing, normal color perception, and vision correctable to 20/20. You must also be a U.S. citizen, with no history of drug abuse, and you must commit to a minimum of 60 months in the service. To become a Navy air traffic controller, you must also score at least a 220 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.

After the Navy recruit submits his application along with supporting documentation, such as medical records, he will go through the military entrance processing station (MEPS). He will undergo a physical exam and participate in a pre-enlistment interview before taking the oath of enlistment. Following this, he must successfully complete seven to nine weeks in Navy boot camp. This training consists of physical exercises, academic classes, and instruction in basic weaponry.

Recruits who wish to become a Navy air traffic controller must also attend “A” school after boot camp. “A” school, which lasts about 110 days, is where recruits are taught specialized skills in their chosen career fields. Air traffic control recruits will learn how to interpret radar screens, how to plot aircraft positions, and how to operate the computer systems. They will learn how to use the equipment to direct aircraft and the basics of flight instructions.

Once you graduate from “A” school and become a Navy air traffic controller, you will then spend the next one to two years in on-the-job training. Navy trainees will learn additional skills, receive individual training, and attend lectures. At the end of this process, successful trainees will receive certification in this field.

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