Air Traffic Controllers

risk level
Based on 341 votes
by year 2032
or $63.58 per hour
as of 2022

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Automation risk

47% (Moderate Risk)

Moderate Risk (41-60%): Occupations with a moderate risk of automation usually involve routine tasks but still require some human judgment and interaction.

More information on what this score is, and how it is calculated is available here.

Some quite important qualities of the job are difficult to automate:

  • Originality

  • Social Perceptiveness

User poll

44% chance of full automation within the next two decades

Our visitors have voted they are unsure if this occupation will be automated. This assessment is further supported by the calculated automation risk level, which estimates 47% chance of automation.

What do you think the risk of automation is?

What is the likelihood that Air Traffic Controllers will be replaced by robots or artificial intelligence within the next 20 years?


The following graph(s) are included wherever there is a substantial amount of votes to render meaningful data. These visual representations display user poll results over time, providing a significant indication of sentiment trends.

Sentiment over time (yearly)


Slow growth relative to other professions.

The number of 'Air Traffic Controllers' job openings is expected to rise 0.6% by 2032

Total employment, and estimated job openings

* Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period between 2021 and 2031
Updated projections are due 09-2023.


Very high paid relative to other professions

In 2022, the median annual wage for 'Air Traffic Controllers' was $132,250, or $63 per hour

'Air Traffic Controllers' were paid 185.6% higher than the national median wage, which stood at $46,310

Wages over time

* Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics


Lower range of job opportunities compared to other professions

As of 2022 there were 21,250 people employed as 'Air Traffic Controllers' within the United States.

This represents around < 0.001% of the employed workforce across the country

Put another way, around 1 in 6 thousand people are employed as 'Air Traffic Controllers'.

Job description

Control air traffic on and within vicinity of airport, and movement of air traffic between altitude sectors and control centers, according to established procedures and policies. Authorize, regulate, and control commercial airline flights according to government or company regulations to expedite and ensure flight safety.

SOC Code: 53-2021.00


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Gonzalo Sancho says
As an air traffic controller I truly think we will not be entirely replaced. It’s a job with a lot of responsibility and there will always need to be someone behind the machine making the last decision. And something no one has talked about is the weather conditions, if there is a storm everything gets really complicated and I find it really difficult for a computer to get and process all the information required. Without taking into account weather conditions I could see the job replaced.
Sep 24, 2023 at 02:00 PM
Philip (Low) says
its risky to have robots doing risky jobs for people when human lives are at stake
Sep 01, 2023 at 02:59 AM
Mike says
I’ve got 18 years left until retirement. I’ve heard eventually we’re gonna just be ‘air traffic watchers’, there just in case things go wrong. We’re nowhere near that now, and the FAA usually lags behind on technology. But I wouldn’t mind the last few years in my career sitting back and watching a computer do it’s thing…
May 05, 2023 at 04:18 PM
Dan (Moderate) says
Due to the rapid development of incredibly intelligent technologies, with artificial intelligence becoming increasingly popular and lucrative in ever-expanding areas and fields for the betterment of human civilization, the air travel industry is no exception.

Most likely, air traffic control will be almost entirely automated, with human controllers making the ultimate decisions in extreme situations. Aircraft will be almost entirely integrated with artificial intelligence, making them even safer and more efficient than ever before.

It's only a matter of time rather than possibility.
May 16, 2022 at 10:49 PM
Chinmay Narendra (Highly likely) says
It is highly likely as robots can do this job because they have eyes and can learn about air traffic control.
Mar 24, 2022 at 06:37 AM
Mike (Highly likely) says
Unmanned Traffic Management is being currently tested. If it succeeds, Air Traffic Controllers will decrease in numbers as UTM spreads as a result of the increase of unmanned aircraft traffic in the skies.
Mar 08, 2021 at 02:05 PM
Joey Rood (Low) says
AI may get to a point where it will be indistinguishable from humans, especially in a standard exchange such as the kind air traffic communications have.
Jul 21, 2020 at 05:03 AM
Gabriel Pinheiro says
We already got to that point. Check out the Turing test and how many AIs have already passed it.
Dec 19, 2020 at 05:15 PM
Camilo (Uncertain) says
Planes are being driven by robots at this point, why wouldn't ATC be taken over by bots. Can a bot have a heart attack??
Nov 15, 2019 at 01:56 AM
Bob says
Just about everything said in this is wrong. Planes still have 2 human pilots controlling the autopilot. Autopilot doesn’t fly the plane the pilots do. Autopilot is cruise control in the plane not a pilot. Also, correct computers can’t suffer from a Heart attack but computers can bug, crash, fail due to power issues etc. and can improvise and problem solve. If an Aircraft went NORDO would the automated ATC know to use light gun signals at that specific aircraft ?
Nov 29, 2020 at 04:19 PM

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