Unique Careers: Air Traffic Controller

While having a late lunch at 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Garden, FL, I struck up a casual conversation with Andrew Brown, an Orlando native with a very humble and kind disposition. Brown shared that he enjoyed mentoring boys and was as an air traffic controller; without hesitation I thought he would be a perfect fit for our unique careers segment and the rest is history.

Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic to ensure that aircraft stay safe distances apart. They also manage the flow of aircraft into and out of the airport airspace, guide pilots during takeoff and landing, and monitor aircraft, as they travel through the skies. In 2012, the median salary was $122,530 and per hour it was $58.91. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) plans to hire and train more than 10,000 air traffic control specialists over the next decade.

MAN UP Mentoring caught up with Brown to discuss his career journey:

What inspires you to do and be your best? My family

What post secondary training did you receive? I attended Valencia College and Devry College.

What organizations are you affiliated with? Hi-Tech Tutoring Center, TWOL Praise Steppers and the Geek Squad.

What is your favorite quote? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13.

What was your first job experience? Winn Dixie. Don’t despise humble beginnings.

What books are you currently reading? Rich Dad Poor Dad

What is your five-year plan? To obtain my pilot license.

So, what is the typical day of an air traffic controller? A typical day consists of ensuring the safety of pilots and that they maintain safe distances from each other while instructing them to take off and land at the airport. I also reroute pilots around bad weather.

What key skills and courses are essential for your chosen profession? Being able to be an active listener, very flexible, having a good attitude and the ability to focus under extreme stressful situations.

Why did you choose this profession? God blessed me with this opportunity. In other words your profession chose you.

What has been a game changer in your industry? Safety Issues are our primary concern.

Describe your most challenging experience in your professional career and how you managed it? My first facility was in Bangor, Maine and it was extremely challenging being away from everything familiar to me ---my family, my church and friends.

What would you tell another young person aspiring to attain similar professional success? Persevere and don’t give up no matter what the circumstances are. Surround yourself around people that encourage and uplift you.

What are some obstacles you overcame in your personal life and how? During my journey in Bangor, Maine I experienced loneliness and isolation. I prayed and read my bible and learned to put my trust in God.

Why do you feel it is important to give back? It’s important to give back to validate the journey in my life and to change the course and make the way better for someone else.

What would be your advice to your younger self? STAY FOCUSED and continue to push for greater!

To learn more about Air Traffic Controllers, please visit