Air Traffic ControllerJob Description:
Air traffic controllers give information and advice to airline pilots to help them take off and land safely and on time.Job Category:
What you will do:
Your tasks will vary depending on which type of controller you become. There are 3 types:
- area controller – in a regional control centre, tracking and guiding aircraft through your sector
- approach controller – managing aircraft as they approach the airport
- aerodrome controller – in a control tower, helping pilots land and park, and line up for take-off
Air traffic controllers also respond to emergency distress calls, guiding planes to the runway and helping pilots to land safely.
- knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits
- to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
As well as:
- concentration skills
- the ability to use your judgement and make decisions
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- excellent verbal communication skills
- complex problem-solving skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
You’ll need an air traffic control licence from the National Air Traffic Services (NATS). It takes around 3 years to train and you’ll complete your training while working.
To become a trainee controller, you’ll need:
- to be 18 years old
- In the UK you will require 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, including English and Maths
- a medical examination
- security clearance
The following university subjects are related to this career too:
- Aerospace engineering and Aviation
- Information systems
Working Hours and Environment:
You’ll usually work 40 hours a week on shifts, including days, nights, weekends and public holidays. During a shift you’ll usually guide aircraft for up to 2 hours, followed by a half-hour break.
You’ll be based in a flight control centre or airport control tower.
Career Path & Progression:
With experience, you could move into training and assessing new controllers, or become a supervisor or unit manager.
You could also move into operations management.