To find out what kind of preparation you will need in order to become an air traffic manager, the smart thing to do is visit an airport, talk to someone in the personnel office, or, perhaps the supervisor of the air traffic control at that airport. Find out what kind of training the personnel there have. The answer to your question about whether you need an associate's degree first is "no." You can apply directly to a four year college and go right to a bachelor's degree, or you can start at a community college, earn an associate's degree, and then transfer to a four year school to finish your bachelor's later. What determines which route you take is whether or not you are getting good grades and what the minimum degree you need is. Since you want to work in air traffic control, you might be able to do that with just an associate's degree. Why bother with a bachelor's? In that case, you would attend community college, finish your associate's, and start looking for a job. You might, however, need a bachelor's degree as a minimum in order to apply for the job you want. If your grades in high school are good, you can apply directly to four year schools. But if your grades in high school are weak, you will not get accepted directly into a four year school, so you attend community college for a couple of years, bring your grades up, and then transfer to a four year school to finish your bachelor's degree. Check first with the people who are going to hire you when you finish, find out what background you will need, and make your plans based on that information. And seek advice from the guidance counselor at your school. That person has lots of experience getting people into colleges and preparing them for jobs.