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air traffic controller

What does an Air Traffic Controller do?

Air traffic controllers are tasked with ensuring that the skies are safe by guiding the myriad of aircraft that are airborne at any given time in the nation. An air traffic controller is basically responsible for directing private, commercial, and military aircraft from the time they take off until the time they return back to Terra Firma. Their work helps guarantee the safety of pilots, passengers, and cargo 24/7, 365-days-a-year.

Duties of an Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controllers man the more than 350 control towers, communication facilities, and radar centers throughout the nation. In addition to clearing traffic for landing or taking off, they also issue weather advisories and monitoring the in-flight progress of the thousands of aircraft that are aloft at any given time. Air traffic controllers also play a role in national defense by identifying illegal aircraft that have violated national airspace.

With this much responsibility on their plate at any given time, air traffic controllers’ work under very stressful circumstances, and efforts are made to break up their schedule to maintain alertness. As such, they tend to work rotating shifts, which feature working “on position” for upwards of two hours followed by a thirty minute break. Research has proven that when controllers work longer than that their performance and efficacy rapidly drops.

Core Skills and Training Required of Air Traffic Controllers

Certain core skills typically accompany the successful aircraft controller to work. As a group, they are generally well-organized, quick with computations, demonstrate strong decision making skills, and exhibit excellent communication abilities. Moreover, since the position is largely deemed as one of the most mentally challenging careers available, trainees undergo thorough physical and psychological testing to ensure that they are up to the demanding physical and mental rigors of the job.

There are three major pathways to becoming an air traffic controller:

  • The military provides a steady reservoir of available candidates who have received specialized training from the FAA or the Department of Defense.
  • Four years of college, or combination of study and three years of related work experience.
  • Completion of a certified program in aviation at one of the FAA’s Air Traffic Training Initiative.

New employees must also complete a 12-week program at the FAA’s Oklahoma City academy prior to placement in one of the nation’s control towers. As one might expect, air traffic controllers are highly compensated for their skills, and competition is sharp whenever a position opens.

What does a Military Officer do?

Do you think you have what it takes to serve your country and protect its citizens? A career as a military officer is a distinguished, disciplined professional path that you must pursue with pride, honor, and dedication to core American values.

military officer

Becoming an officer

Military officers are leaders and organizers who are expected to excel both physically and mentally while under pressure. There are five branches of the American military – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard – and, depending upon which branch you serve, your duties can vary widely. Your duties and responsibilities will also vary depending upon your rank.

In order to become an officer, you must at least hold a high school diploma, though generally, officers are preferred to have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. Then, you may pursue an officer career track in one of three ways:

  • Enlist in the military and apply to officer candidate school
  • Attend an accredited college or university and enroll in the school’s ROTC program
  • Attend a service academy such as West Point, Annapolis, or The Citadel

As a military officer, you will be assigned to and trained in a specialty based partially on what you’re good at, partially on what the military’s needs are.

Made in the U.S.A.: career pathsfor a military officer

Officer ranks consist of commissioned officers (the highest ranks) and warrant officers. As a military officer, you may be assigned to one of the following occupational groups:

  • Combat specialty officers could plan or direct military operations, or lead units in a number of information gathering, offensive, or search-and-rescue missions.
  • Health care officers might provide medical, dietary, or psychological services to soldiers at military facilities.
  • Media and public affairs officers might direct training or news-related video, radio, or television broadcasts, or handle press inquiries into military-related activities.
  • Protective service officers protect people and property on military bases, and might help prepare for and execute responses to emergency situations.

It is also possible to take skills learned through the military and apply them to civilian careers. Many skill sets cross over for those who choose to leave the military after their set-service time.

Commissioned military officer earning potentials

Military wages are fairly cut and dry: You will be paid according to your rank and the number of years you have been serving. In addition to salary, military officers receive free room and board (or stipends to cover these expenses), medical and dental benefits, 30 days of paid leave annually, and a host of other benefits. Before joining the military, it is important to do very thorough research on your committments and requirements.

What does a Nuclear Engineer do?

Are you fascinated by the amount of energy you can derive from the tiny atom? Do you like thinking outside the box, but also analytically, to solve complex problems? Do you think nuclear energy is our best option for clean power? If so, you should consider a career as a nuclear engineer.

Job description: the basics

Nuclear engineers work with nuclear power, developing methods for its use to help humankind and the planet. Although you may think this job is confined to working in a nuclear power plant, doing something like fixing a reactor, nuclear engineering can be applied to many different projects. You could work on a new way to treat diseases using radiation, or develop a method of reducing the pollution that fossil fuels release into the environment. You could even work on exploring the vast reaches of space with the help of nuclear energy.

nuclear engineer

As a nuclear engineer, you’ll have an exciting, though demanding, career ahead of you. There are many different types of challenges you may encounter, whether you’re working in a lab or a power plant, on a particle accelerator or an artificial heart. Your work week is likely to be a standard 40-hour week, and most of your time will be spent in an office, lab, or power plant. The creativity and analytical skills you’ll often have to use are matched in importance by the need to communicate effectively and have an interest in technology.

Becoming a nuclear engineer: education and training

If you want to be a nuclear engineer, you can expect to spend between 4 and 5 years getting your bachelor’s degree, the bare minimum education required for this position. You’ll study a wide range of general subjects at first, including mathematics, the sciences, and the humanities, before honing in on your specialty.

After you graduate, you may want to continue your studies and get a master’s or a doctorate, either immediately if you intend to teach or do research, or later on as part of your career advancement. Depending upon where you choose to work, you may need to get security clearance or be a United States citizen (this is the case if you work for the federal government).

Salary and career outlook

You can expect a good salary and job outlook in general, per the U.S. Department of Labor, due to the increasing interest in nuclear energy and in safety standards for power plants, as well as in uses for nuclear energy in medical and defense applications.

As your career progresses, you can become a specialist in your area of nuclear engineering, manage a staff of people, or choose to teach at a college or university.