Army Job Description: 15Q Air Traffic Control Operator

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

Image shows a man in an army uniform looking out of a watchtower at a plane taking off. He is wearing a headset and holding a remote. Text reads: "A day in the life of an ai traffic control operator: track planes and provide landing and takeoff instructions. process flight plan data, keep flight logs and voice recording. extreme accuracy and attention to detail. score 101 in the skilled technical area (ST) of the armed services vocational aptitude battery (Asvab) tests"

Image by Colleen Tighe © The Balance 2019

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 strict adherence to protocol are 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. 


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


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


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.

Also, 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

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.