Air Traffic Control Frequently Asked Questions

I've decided to create a post for all you Googlers out there with all the questions. Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions related to air traffic control.

1. How much do Air Traffic Controllers earn?

This has to be the number one most asked question. How much do we earn? Similar salary questions that come up are how much do air traffic controllers start out with? And what are the ATC pay levels?

I've covered this in previous posts and listed Australian air traffic controller pay scales. For my international readers you can pretty much convert these dollars into your local currency and it's gonna be pretty close to the mark. Generally speaking a fully rated air traffic controller on the top pay scale is going to earn on average 125-150k a year. Here in Australia the pay scales start in the low 60's for a freshly rated controller and are around 145k at the top level in Sydney.

2. A day in the life of an Air Traffic Controller.

This isn't really a question, but it is a query that is entered into Google a lot. People want to know what it's like being a controller.

Well not much different to any other job really. We do shift work. Some air traffic controllers work a twenty four hour rotating roster, like those working in the centres as enroute controllers and capital city towers. Others (like me) don't. I am currently working at an outstation tower. We open at 7am. Close at 8.15pm local. In Australia we work a 36 hour week and at the end of the day, work gets left at work.

Air Traffic Control has been associated with stress, but I believe it is manageable. You do need to be able to work under pressure and make quick and accurate decisions. Air Traffic Control is a very dynamic environment. Things can happen quickly.

I would recommend Air Traffic Control to anyone who likes to constantly challenge themselves, enjoys problem solving and displays confidence. The latter is not necessarily required but it is a common trait shown across the industry.

3. How to become an Air Traffic Controller

For Australian residents you can get all these details from my previous post here. For international readers visit your local Air Traffic Control provider's website and I guarantee you will find an employment opportunities link.

Generally speaking applicants will be required to have completed the Higher School Certificate. In Australia the first step when applying is completing the online aptitude tests. The second step for successful applicants is then attending a testing day where you do similar tests again under examination conditions. Step three is your interview.

Applicants deemed suitable will then be sent to Melbourne to study. Twelve months later you will be in the field training on the job for your first rating. Achieve your first rating and you will then receive your air traffic controllers licence.

These three questions are by far the most common. I will update this post as more questions roll in.

Good Luck