Air Traffic Controllers

risk level
Based on 283 votes
by 2031
or $63.58 hourly
as of 2022

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

43% chance of full automation within the next two decades

Our visitors have voted that it's unclear if this occupation will be replaced. 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 this occupation will be replaced by robots or AI in the next 20 years?


Slow growth relative to other professions.

The number of 'Air Traffic Controllers' job openings is expected to rise 0.6% by 2031

Total employment, and estimated job openings

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


Very high paid relative to other professions

In 2022, the median annual wage for 'Air Traffic Controllers' was $132,250, or $63.58 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 0.014% 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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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 (Small chance) 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 (Could go either way) 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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