In Control – Air Traffic Control degree from Broward College lands Matt Dillman His Dream Job
Matt Dillman’s day as an Air Traffic Controller is not your typical 9 to 5 workday. As soon as he arrives at the facility, he is assigned an available radar or tower position where he works for the first two hours giving instructions to anywhere from five to 30 different planes at a time.
“You’re issuing altitude changes to planes arriving and departing the airports, issuing them routes to fly, giving them speed adjustments and making sure they are in line and properly spaced as they are cleared for approaches to the airports,” he says. For every two-hour cycle of communicating, he takes a mandated half an hour break. This is repeated throughout the day until his eight-hour shift ends.
Dillman discovered his passion for Air Traffic Control in high school and, since then, he’s never considered doing anything else. Thanks to a career pathways class and test he took, he learned that he qualified for three professions in the aviation field. “I knew what a pilot was but I had no idea what Air Traffic Control was so I did a little more research on it and thought the job looked pretty interesting,” said Dillman.
After his aptitude test, he arranged to visit the Air Traffic Control facility at the Miami International Airport through a family friend who worked there. He says he went back every year to visit and meet new people in the field as a means of networking. After graduating high school in 2008, Dillman was so driven to start his journey that he signed up for classes at Broward College that same summer. His plan was to do his humanities courses at the College and transfer to Miami Dade College. At that time, he wasn’t aware that Broward College offered the Air Traffic Control program.
However, after learning the program was offered at the College, he decided to continue his education here. He explains that his favorite aspect of staying with Broward College was the quality of the faculty. “I completed the program in one and a half years. Classes at Broward College were great. We were taught by people currently working in the Air Traffic field with the latest tools and technologies. Having the simulators and other equipment really prepared us for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Academy. I have no regrets. Learning these basics at Broward College allowed me to excel at the FAA Academy, and move directly into training my area of specialization,” Dillman says.
He completed all his classes, including his general courses, in one and a half years as a full-time student and obtained his associate degree in December 2009. He was accepted to the FAA Academy shortly after completing his training with a starting salary of $40,000 a year.
The starting salary is standard for all new recruits and as Dillman completed additional areas of certifications, his salary also increased. He is happy with the results of his educational journey and is eager to encourage others to pursue a career in Air Traffic Control. “For someone who is new and has no idea really what the job is, I would suggest doing research online and see what the job entails versus just jumping into it. Arrange a tour with your nearest Air Traffic Control facility and see what it’s like first hand. It’s fast- paced, no two days are alike, definitely a lifestyle change.”