How to Become an Air Traffic Control

Become an Air Traffic Controller

In our review of different careers, we take a look at how to become an air traffic controller.  We also look at what it is that an air traffic controller does, and what skills and attributes you need to become an air traffic controller.

What Does an Air Traffic Controller Do?

An air traffic controllers job is to help pilots take off and land safely and also ensure that pilots flying around the United Kingdom are kept a safe distance apart.  This is achieved using sophisticated communication technology and advanced radar systems.

As an air traffic controller, you will work in one of three roles.  An area controller ensures that pilots are guided safely through your specific sector.  As an area controller, you will have a specific region of air space that you will look after.  An approach controller manages aircrafts that are approaching the airport to land, and you will ensure that you land each plane safely and in a correct landing order.  The third and final job role is as an aerodrome controller where you will work from a control tower giving instructions to pilots as they descend.

You might also work on ground control duties, directing aircraft on the runway before take off and after landing.  You will also need to respond to emergency distress calls and guide pilots who have lost their way in bad weather.

As an air traffic controller, you will typically work forty hours a week in shifts that cover twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Is Becoming an Air Traffic Controller Right For Me?

To become an air traffic controller you will need to possess the following skills and attributes:

  • The ability to concentrate for long periods
  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to give very precise and clear instructions
  • The ability to check information quickly and accurately
  • Confidence in work with technology
  • Excellent maths skills and a good spacial awareness
  • Excellent teamwork skills
  • A flexible approach to work
  • Great problem-solving skills

How Much Can an Air Traffic Controller Earn?

An air traffic controller you will earn approximately £12,000 a year when training and once posted to your first unit this will increase to anywhere between £17,000 and £21,000. Once you are completely qualified earnings will rise to between £32,000 and £36,000 and can rise up to £50,000 a year with experience.

What Qualifications Do I Need To Become an Air Traffic Controller?

You need an air traffic control license which you can gain by taking an approved training course.  To take the course you will need to over 18 and have five GCSE's grade A-C.