Air traffic controller

What they do

Air traffic controllers manage the safe and orderly flow of aircraft into, out of and between airports - locally, interstate and overseas - and between those regions adjoining a particular country’s airspace. This is done by remaining in radio communication with pilots to keep aircraft separated in controlled, monitored airspaces, as well as ensuring that aircraft abide by their pre-arranged routes and altitudes. Air traffic controllers in WA may work in Perth's busy domestic or international airports, or in regional airports that control the aircraft that fly into and out of our regional centres.

Working conditions

Air traffic controllers work in airports, which are open all year round. They usually work in shifts, and are required to work weekends and on public holidays. Work can be stressful due to unsavoury weather conditions, or other circumstances.

Tools and technologies

The role of air traffic controller is highly technical in nature. Familiarisation and utilisation of radiotelephony, complex computer systems and radar technology is required.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become an air traffic controller, you need to undertake training either through Airservices Australia or the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

To be eligible for the Airservices training course, you need to have completed either year 12, a degree or diploma from a recognised Australian tertiary institution, or hold a current commercial or private pilot licence. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or an Australian permanent resident. Those who successfully complete the training will obtain a Diploma of Aviation (Air Traffic Control).

The training course usually takes 12 to 14 months to complete and is undertaken at Airservices’ training facilities in Melbourne.

To become an air traffic controller with the RAAF requires entry into the Royal Australian Air Force as an officer and completion of air force training courses in air traffic control.