How To Become An Air Traffic Controller

Have you always wanted to fly a Plane? When you were a little boy or girl the thought of you holding that steering wheel and looking out across the blue clouds left you some what dizzy with excitement?

Then you might want to think about trying out a career as a traffic controller if you not the studying type as I’m sure you know being a pilot takes a lot of studying, time and a huge amount of money to invest into it, but as a traffic controller your coming up and close to plane’s everyday and you get to tell the pilots where to park their beast of a plane, you get to work outside occasionally and meet new and fun people everyday.

So have I sold it enough yet? Lets look a little deeper into what a life as a traffic controller looks like.

It’s a bit like Thomas the tank engine with the fat controller instead here you’ll will be controlling planes and not wear the black bowler hat.

What Does An Air Traffic Controller Do?

Air traffic controllers direct the movements of commercial and private aircraft with the use of radar systems and visual judgment. While they are primarily concerned with safety, their job also includes making flying more efficient and reducing delays, more to that, they also keep airplane pilots informed on important details such as weather conditions and runway status during takeoff or landing.


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There are various tasks that different air traffic controllers can handle depending on where they are working. Some controllers would be in charge of controlling airport traffic, some would be regulating flights between airports, some would organise an airport’s departures and arrivals while some would monitor all aircraft that would enter airspace. Most commonly, air traffic controllers work with other air traffic controllers do effectively direct the plane safely and efficiently into airspace and back.

The work of an air traffic controller is commonly associated with high levels of stress since a person holding this job is partly in charge of the safety of thousands of passengers. But if your could and your sweet spot is organisation then you would love getting your teeth into a role like this.

Job Qualifications

To be an air traffic controller, one is required to have a bachelor’s degree or anything related plus an official and approved training program, more than that, one is also required to have completed the 8-hour certification exam which is necessary in order to have this profession. Training for qualified aspirants would range anywhere in between 2 to 4 years.

Aside from basic education and training, air traffic controllers are also required to meet other requirements such as having proper school recommendations and being under 31 years of age. Not to mention, the educational process also has some considerably demanding standards. For some, a pre-employee screening system is being observed so that only the best of all the applicants may be able to get a position in air traffic control. If all this still does not deter you then please read on

Job Opportunities

The job market for air traffic controllers was  expected to stagnate until 2012. While air traffic in increasing, job opportunities are not expected to increase proportionately as airport operations are guided by strict budget standards. Another constraint is that the popularity of computerised traffic control systems is increasing, giving less opportunities for aspiring air traffic controllers.

There were over 25,000 air traffic controllers that were employed in 2006. While growth in the numbers might not be too much, the FAA has plans of adding 17,000 new air traffic controllers over the upcoming 20 years.

The reason why not so much people are into air traffic control is because this considerably stressful job has a lot of demanding qualifications of which the common person could not have. While this job may be quite hard to have, there are promising rewards for those who land a career in air traffic control.

Expected Salary

Air traffic controllers can earn anywhere between £65,500 and £112,250 with the mean annual salary at £91,600. However, some of them could still earn below £46,000 while some are fortunate enough to be earning above £131,000. This rate is expected to grow through the years as air traffic controllers are expected to handle more tasks.


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Some of the highest paid air traffic controllers are those who work for the governments who would earn about £112,000. Pay would depend on a lot of factors including the airport of where the air traffic controller would work and the place.


There is a lot to think about here but if this is really your dream job I don’t see why you can’t give it a go and go for it. We wish you every luck and success in the world.


Let us know how you get on we would love to know, or leave us a comment below of your experiences. If you would like to find out more useful business startup tips check out our online magazine packed with great resources, advice and tips to get you started.

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