Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Byron K. Hargrove

Second Supervisor

Arleen Hogan


The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Air Traffic Control Specialists (ATCS) workforce has been in steady decline since 2012. The declining number of federal ATCS threatens a $1.5 trillion aviation economy in the United States. The results of fewer controllers are increased delays and cancelled flights (National Air Traffic Controllers Association [NATCA], 2018). Additionally, the controller workforce is predominantly White male (Carey, 2014). Diversity amongst ATCS is another troubling trend for the FAA (McCartin, 2011). According to Outtz and Hanges (2013), an underrepresentation of minorities, including women, exists among the candidates who were hired successfully in the FAA ATCS centralized hiring process. The purpose of this qualitative methods study was to examine the experiences of African American ATCS who studied air traffic control at the collegiate level. Lent and Brown (1996) suggest that an individual’s career pursuit is determined by their self-efficacy (SE) and outcome expectation (OE). This study explored the SE and OE of African American ATCS hired through the FAA’s Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program. Several outcomes were the result of eight semi-structured interviews including high SE and OE that drove the personal goals of obtaining a college degree and becoming an FAA ATCS. This study produced several recommendations including practices the FAA could implement using its Aviation & Space Education Outreach Program (AVSED) to target young African Americans interested in STEM fields to pursue a career in air traffic control (ATC).

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