Federal License
Credential: Air Traffic Control Tower Operator
Credentialing Agency: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Air Traffic Control Tower operator, A Control Tower Operator (CTO) is a tower-rated controller, meaning the individual is rated and tested on ground control, tower flight data, and local control within the tower. Before receiving a CTO permit an individual will normally attend the FAA Air Traffic Control Academy. Equivalent training could be with the U.S. Military or civilian equivalent schools. All Air Traffic Controllers will take the Airman's Written Test (AWT) before controlling aircraft. Once arriving on station or airport, the trainee will sign on position with qualified controllers known as On-the-Job Training Instructors (OJTIs) until the trainee can handle the normal facility traffic and any contingency situations that may arise. At this point the trainee undergoes a "check ride," where he or she is observed under normal operating conditions and traffic load. If the check ride is favorable on all positions within the tower, then he or she will be issued a CTO permit by the FAA to work all Tower positions (radar positions entail separate training) within the control tower at that particular facility.

More information can be found on the certifying agency's website.

Air Traffic Control Tower Operator

The following Army Occupations provide training and/or experience that contributes to attaining this credential:

Personnel Category Occupation Occupation Type Related As Promotion Points Skill Level Star Proponent Funded Gap Analysis
Enlisted 14G Air Defense (AD) Battle Management System Operator MOS some          
Enlisted 15B Aircraft Powerplant Repairer MOS other          
Enlisted 15D Aircraft Powertrain Repairer MOS other          
Enlisted 15F Aircraft Electrician MOS other          
Enlisted 15G Aircraft Structural Repairer MOS other          
Enlisted 15H Aircraft Pneudraulics Repairer MOS other          
Enlisted 15N Avionic Mechanic MOS other          
Enlisted 15Q Air Traffic Control (ATC) Operator MOS most   I Star credentialStar    
Enlisted 15R AH-64 Attack Helicopter Repairer MOS other          
Enlisted 15T UH-60 Helicopter Repairer MOS other          
Enlisted 15U CH-47 Helicopter Repairer MOS other          
Enlisted 15Y AH-64D Armament/Electrical/Avionics Systems Repairer MOS other          
Enlisted 15Z Aviation Senior Sergeant MOS some          
Enlisted 6N THAAD Launching Control Station (LCS) Operator ASI other          
Enlisted 94D Air Traffic Control Equipment Repairer MOS other          
Warrant Officer 140A Command And Control Systems Integrator WOMOS some        
Warrant Officer 150A Air Traffic And Air Space Management Technician WOMOS most        

Army Table Legend


Related As

The military occupations shown in this table are related to this credential in one of four ways: Most, Some, or Other.

Most: This credential is directly related to most of the major duties associated with the military occupation (at least 80%). Note that the credential may require additional education, training or experience before you are eligible for it.

Some: This credential is related to some tasks associated with the duties of the military occupation (related 80% to at least one or more critical tasks but less than 80% of all of the entire military occupation). Note that the credential may require additional education, training or experience before you are eligible for it.

Other: This credential is related to this military occupation, but is more advanced or specialized and therefore will likely require additional education, training, or experience.

Promotion Points Promotion Points icon

This credential has been approved for promotion points for this MOS towards promotion to Sergeant and Staff Sergeant. Clicking the Promotion Points icon will open a link to the promotion points fact sheet.

Skill Level Designation

Skill Level I: This skill level consists of all Soldiers in the ranks of Private (pay grade E-1) up to Specialist (pay grade E-4). Time in Service (TIS) is generally between initial entry and four Years of Service (YOS). This skill level is Entry-level positions requiring performance of tasks under direct supervision.

Institutional training:

  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level I
  • Basic Leader Course (BLC)

Skill Level II: This skill level is obtained when promoted to Sergeant (paygrade E-5). TIS is generally between 4-8 YOS. Positions requiring performance of more difficult tasks under general supervision; and in some instances, involving supervision of Soldiers in SL1.

Institutional training:

  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level II
  • Advance Leader Course (ALC)

Skill Level III: This skill level is obtained when promoted to Staff Sergeant (paygrade E-6). TIS is generally between 8-12 YOS. Positions requiring performance of still more difficult tasks and involving first line supervision of Soldiers in SL1 & SL2.

Institutional training:

  • Senior Leader Course (SLC)
  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level III

Skill level IV: This skill level is obtained when promoted to the rank of Sergeant First Class (paygrade E-7). TIS is generally between 12-18 YOS. Positions requiring relatively detailed knowledge of all tasks specified for a given MOS, normally involving first-line supervision of Soldiers in SLs 1, 2, and 3, and involving managerial duties.

Institutional training:

  • Master Leader Course (MLC)
  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level IV
  • Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education (SEJPME) I Course

Skill level V: This skill level is obtained when promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant (paygrade E-8). TIS is generally between 18-22 YOS. Positions requiring direct and indirect leadership roles with expertise in company and battalion-level operations and competency across a given CMF, serving as members of a staff at every level in the Army, with a full understanding of the allocation of resources and their utilization in order to accomplish Army functions and missions.

Institutional training:

  • United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA)
  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level V

Skill level VI: This skill level is obtained when promoted to the rank of Sergeants Major (paygrade E-9). TIS is generally between 22-30 YOS. Positions requiring organizational leadership roles with multi-dimensional expertise in units and teams on division, corps, and Army staffs, integrated with Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational (JIIM) partners with a full understanding of the Force Generation process, operations at all echelons, and how the Army runs.

Star Credential Star icon

Star credentials are MOS enhancing, as designated by the Proponent. MOS enhancing credentials are directly related to an MOS or ASI, are taught either partially or completely as part of a Program of Instruction (POI), and improve the MOS technical proficiency.

Proponent Funded Funded icon

This icon indicates credentials which Soldiers may have funded through their MOS proponent. Some proponents offer credentialing opportunities in conjunction with military training and/or as part of MOS development beyond the training base.

Gap Analysis Has Analysis icon

A detailed analysis comparing the credential requirements to the military occupation has been completed. Click on the gap analysis icon to view the analysis page.

Air Traffic Control Tower Operator

Eligibility Requirements ()

Note: This credential may have multiple options for becoming eligible. Listed below are the minimum requirements based on the minimum degree required. To view other options, see the Eligibility tab.

  • Credential Prerequisite
  • Experience: 3 years
  • Education: High School Diploma/GED
  • Training
  • Membership
  • Other
  • Fee

Exam Requirements ()

  • Written Exam
  • Oral Exam
  • Practical Exam
  • Performance Assessment

Renewal Period

  • Continuing Education
  • Exam
  • Continuing Education OR Exam
  • Fee
  • Other

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
800 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC  20591
Phone: (866) 835-5322
Contact Page

Air Traffic Control Tower Operator

Applicant for a facility rating at any air traffic control tower must have satisfactorily served—

  • As an air traffic control tower operator at that control tower without a facility rating for at least 6 months; or
  • As an air traffic control tower operator with a facility rating at a different control tower for at least 6 months before the date he applies for the rating.

Note: Applicant who is a member of an Armed Force of the United States meets the requirements of this section if he has satisfactorily served as an air traffic control tower operator for at least 6 months.

The Air Traffic Control Tower Operator credential has the following other requirements:

  • Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Applicant must be of good moral character;
  • Applicant must be able to read, write, and understand the English language and speak it without accent or impediment of speech that would interfere with two-way radio conversation.
  • All applicants, except for a person employed by the FAA or employed by, or on active duty with, the Department of the Air Force, Army, or Navy or the Coast Guard, hold at least a second-class medical certificate issued under Title 14 -Chapter I - Subchapter D - Part 67 ? Subpart C, within the 12 months before the date application is made.

  • Comply with §65.35 (Knowledge requirements)
  • Applicants must hold an FAA Credential with a tower rating or an air traffic control tower operator certificate .

Air Traffic Control Tower Operator

  • FAA Flight Rules - Part 91
  • Airport traffic control procedures
  • En route traffic control procedures
  • Communications operating procedures
  • Flight assistance service
  • Air navigation, and aids to air navigation
  • Aviation weather
  • The Control Tower
  • The Airport
  • The Control Zone
  • Notice to Airmen
  • Weather Facilities and Procedures
  • A Demonstration of Ability to Control Air Traffic Under VFR
  • Air Traffic Control Facilities
  • Air Navigation Facilities
  • Use of Airman's Information Manual
  • Holding Procedures
  • Approach Procedures
  • Missed Approach Facilities
  • Alternate Airports
  • Search and Rescue Procedures
  • A Demonstration of Ability to Control Air Traffic Under IFR Airport Identification

There are a number of resources available to help you prepare for the Air Traffic Control Tower Operator examination:

An additional resource is Safari Books Online, a searchable digital library that provides online access to thousands of books, training videos and conference sessions. See the Educational Resources page here on COOL to learn how to get free access.

Testing for this credential is handled by PSI. The test centers are located in the U.S.

To find out more, use the following links on the PSI website:

For more information on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) testing process, visit the agency website.