Like a civilian air traffic controller, Tactical Air Defense Controllers in the Marines oversee and direct airplane traffic. But in the Marines, this means both helping guide friendly aircraft and intercepting hostile aircraft. They also help coordinate surface-to-air weapons in combat situations.
This Marines job is categorized as PMOS 7236. It's what's known as a Primary Military Occupational Specialty (PMOS) that is open to Marines whose ranks range from master gunnery sergeant to sergeant
The most important part of this job is guiding friendly aircraft and intercepting enemy or hostile aircraft. For the former, this means providing navigational assistance, for the latter, it means evaluating data from electronics equipment in a countermeasures environment.
These Marines also conduct ground controlled intercepts, maintain operations logs and prepare operations maps and overlays. They identify interference on electronic equipment and advise on how to correct such issues.
Tactical air defense traffic controllers supervise the operations of the air control unit to which they're attached. They oversee the prep of the air traffic control equipment to be used in combat and direct training for other air traffic control personnel.
At higher ranks, these Marines supervise the surveillance section of the Tactical Air Operations Center (TAOC), assist with directing countermeasures operations, and direct Marine aircraft in the interception of hostile aircraft. They'll help coordinate surface-to-air weapons and interceptors in antiair combat situations, and evaluate relative enemy strength.
Higher-ranking Marine Tactical Air Defense Controllers train, and supervise the training of air control personnel attached to their unit.
To qualify for this job, a Marine must have a score of 105 or higher on the general technical (GT) segment of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests. You'll need to take the Tactical Air Defense Controller Course, and complete the Air Mobility Control academic package.
You'll also need to be able to qualify for a secret security clearance from the Department of Defense. It involves a background check of your finances and any police record. A history of drug or alcohol abuse may be disqualifying for this position.
Marines in this job need normal color vision (so, no colorblindness).
Following Marine boot camp at Parris Island, you'll head to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms in California for air traffic control training school.
Since there are heavy anti-aircraft and combat components for this job, there isn't a specific civilian equivalent. But with the training you receive, you'll be qualified for a variety of civilian air traffic control positions.