Introduction of Air Traffic Controller
ATCs authorise, regulate, and coordinate air traffic movement in order to ensure safety and minimal delays. It’s like ten people playing ping pong. They use advanced radar and radio transmission equipment to provide pilots with advice, information, and directions.
Similar Job Titles
- Airport Air Traffic Control Supervisor
- Enroute Air Traffic Control Supervisor
- Terminal Air Traffic Control Supervisor
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do Air Traffic Controllers do?
An Air Traffic Controller would typically need to:
- Communicate with pilots via a push-to-talk radiotelephony system to monitor and direct the aircraft as it approaches or arrives at an airport.
- Maintain radio and radar contact with aircraft to provide pilots with landing and take-off directions while employing visual observation from the airport tower.
- Control aircraft movement between altitude sectors and control centres in accordance with specified procedures and standards.
- Provide an aeroplane with its final cruising height and essential information regarding weather conditions and runway closures.
- Manage numerous aircraft at once while making quick judgements to ensure the plane’s safety.
- Transfer control of outgoing planes to other traffic control centres, while accepting control of arriving flights.
- Handle unforeseen occurrences, emergencies, and unscheduled traffic while notifying airport personnel.
- Control all ground traffic on airport runways and taxiways while also controlling aircraft in the airport’s local area.
Standard Work Environment
Control towers, approach control facilities, and en route centres are all places where air traffic controllers operate. They could function as Tower Controllers, directing vehicle traffic on runways and taxiways. Approach and departure controllers work near large airports to ensure that aircraft travelling within an airport’s airspace maintain a safe minimum spacing. En Route Controllers are responsible for monitoring aeroplanes once they depart the airspace of an airport; they work in secure office buildings across the country.
Some controllers work across the entire national airspace, preventing traffic congestion and ensuring airbases are maintained and ready for emergencies. The dress code is normally relaxed.
The majority of Air Traffic Controllers work full-time, with others working additional hours. Air Traffic Control must be manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, hence shift labour is used to assure there is constant coverage. Typically, Air Traffic Controllers may not work more than 10 consecutive hours in a shift and must rest for nine hours before their next shift.
Air Traffic Controllers often work 37 to 40 hours a week, which is divided between days, nights, weekends, and public holidays.
It is nearly impossible to work for yourself or as a freelancer. The application and selection process for the supplied training is demanding, involving online and paper tests, assessment days, group exercises, and an interview. Aspiring ATCs can research particular airport web pages as well as national newspapers. Vacancies are rarely handled by recruitment agencies.
Air Traffic Controllers are generally employed by:
- Private Civilian Airports
- Civilian Airports Owned by the Government
- Military Airports Owned by the Government
Unions / Professional Organizations
The majority of air traffic controllers are members of a union. Professional associations and organisations are an important resource for Air Traffic Controllers who want to advance their careers or interact with other professionals in their industry or sector. Membership in one or more of these organisations looks great on your CV and helps to strengthen your credentials and qualifications as an Air Traffic Controller.
- Undivided focus on the task at hand every second of every minute of every hour in the sector
- Vigilant attention is paid to everything said by pilots and other Controllers
- Complete awareness of what is going on in their airspace and the sectors around them
- Increased job complexity, workload, and responsibility during adverse weather conditions
- Physical and mental fatigue due to the amount of concentration required to deal with high levels of pressure
Suggested Work Experience
Air Traffic Controllers have extensive training before taking on any official responsibilities, thus no prior experience is required. Experience in office work, customer service, or communication-based tasks, on the other hand, may be beneficial to future Air Traffic Controllers.
There are various ways to become an Air Traffic Controller. A degree can be obtained through a government-approved air traffic collegiate training programme. The curriculum may not be standardised, with courses focusing on essential aviation disciplines. An applicant must have three years of progressively responsible job experience, a related bachelor’s degree, or a three-year mix of postsecondary education and work experience.
Candidates must also be 18 years of age or older, fluent in English and their mother tongue, pass a medical evaluation, including drug screening and background checks, pass a valid pre-employment test, including a biographical assessment or a test of behavioural consistency, pass a test on special skills required by Air Traffic Controllers, and complete a training course. Some prospective air traffic controllers have experience in the military.
Some countries may only require a qualification demonstrating that the applicants have high results in English, maths, and at least three other courses studied in high school. In certain nations, trainers and employers of air traffic controllers value talent over degrees. They may also provide early career-organised development programmes to college graduates who demonstrate aptitude, as well as a sandwich year to university students.
Certifications, Licenses and Registration
Successful certification programmes promote and enhance the profession’s visibility, provide employers with a benchmark standard for measuring employee candidates, seek to serve and protect public welfare, and are in charge of investigating Air Traffic Controllers who violate the program’s Code of Ethics.
In general, Air Traffic Controllers must be either qualified and supervised or carry an Air Traffic Control Tower Operator Certificate. Candidates may also be required to meet certain medical standards and receive a current medical certificate.
Projected Career Map
Most Air Traffic Controllers remain in operational duties for the duration of their careers. There is limited advancement among the many specialities of Air Traffic Control because training is tailored to the unique function and is costly. As a result, Air Traffic Controllers often remain in the discipline in which they were initially taught. An Air Traffic Controller may be able to transition from one post to another if they receive further training.
Experienced air traffic controllers may be transferred to larger airports. You could advance to the post of Group Supervisor/Manager of a watch or unit, where you would oversee the work of other Controllers. You could advance to training roles, work in a college or assessment unit, assess recruits, or be a mentor to a recruit on the job.
If you have completed your training in a European country, you may be able to work in other countries within the European Union. Although English is the international language used in air traffic control, knowing the language spoken in the country where you want to work would be beneficial.
Those who have served in the military as Air Traffic Controllers may have an advantage.
Beneficial Professional Development
Private course providers require payment for training, but you can usually choose the field in which you want to specialise. Training to become a fully qualified Air Traffic Controller typically takes three years. The structure of the training will most likely differ depending on the supplier.
After completing basic and specialised training, you are put in open roles and continue your education to work towards validation. This is determined by how quickly you adapt to your job and the unit you are assigned to. Throughout your programme, you will be evaluated via practical exercises, exams, and oral tests. Other course providers’ graduates can seek trainee positions with other air service operators, where they will continue their education.
Once qualified, all Air Traffic Controllers must maintain their knowledge and skills. This means that you will continue to attend training courses or receive in-house training for the rest of your career. Air Traffic Controllers may also be required to pass a physical exam once a year, a job performance evaluation twice a year, and drug screenings on a regular basis.
Conclusion of Air Traffic Controller
Aside from the work hours, an Air Traffic Controller has a terrific job that is mentally hard, enjoyable and has kind coworkers. There’s a lot to adore about Air Traffic Controllers; while pilots get a lot of credit for accomplishments like landing planes on rivers, it’s Air Traffic Controllers who keep these pilots in line. Every month, Air Traffic Controllers around the world make innumerable saves, some great, some minor, but usually unsung. Life goes on in the control room as usual…even after you’ve just spared nearly 200 people from certain death.
Advice from the Wise
When faced with an impossible circumstance, improvise. Work to ensure that no one is killed on your watch.