Army Job Description: 15Q Air Traffic Control Operator

This is a key safety position on the Army's airfields

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Reginald Joseph fills out forms and checklists Aug. 1, 2011, inside the control tower at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Joseph is an air traffic controller assigned to the 52nd Operations Support Squadron.
U.S Air Force / Airman 1st Class Dillon Davis

Like their civilian counterparts, air traffic control operators in the Army are responsible for tracking planes and providing landing and takeoff instructions. It's an extremely important job; these soldiers are responsible not only for the safety of pilots and passengers aboard the planes they're directing, but other planes in the area and people on the ground as well. 

This job is categorized as military occupational specialty (MOS) 15Q.

You'll need to be able to make decisions under extremely stressful conditions, and have a keen eye for detail.

Accuracy and a strict adherence to protocol are obviously crucial to doing this job well, and you'll need to be decisive under pressure. As with any job in the Army, you'll need to be able to work well as part of a team. 

Duties for MOS 15Q

These soldiers not only control air and ground traffic, they also assist with relocation and installation of air traffic control sites. This includes processing flight plan data, keeping flight logs, records, files and recording of voice communications. 

Training as an Army Air Traffic Control Operator

MOS 15Q training involves ten weeks of Basic Combat Training (also known as boot camp) and 15 weeks of Advanced Individual Training (AIT). This includes on-the-job instruction, which includes time in the classroom and in the field under simulated combat conditions.

You'll learn the basic takeoff, landing and ground control procedures, how to recognize various aircraft, radar and communications protocols and procedures, and all air traffic control management and operational procedures. 

Qualifying as a MOS 15Q

You'll need a score of 101 in the skilled technical area (ST) of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests.

There's no Department of Defense security clearance required, but a history of drug or alcohol abuse is disqualifying for this position.

In addition, if you have any documented instances of the sale or possession of narcotics or other dangerous drugs on your record, you would not be able to serve in this job per Army regulations.

You also need to have normal color vision (colorblindness is strictly prohibited for this job) and be able to speak English clearly and distinctly, so you can be understood over a two-way radio.

And even though you'll be mostly stationed on the ground or in the air traffic control tower, to be eligible for MOS 15Q, you must be able to meet Army Class 2A medical fitness standards for flying.

Similar Civilian Occupations to MOS 15Q

While many of the skills you'll learn in this job are specific to the Army, you'll be qualified to work at airports, for air traffic control centers, and may even be eligible for certain positions within the Department of Defense.