FAQs on air traffic controller training.
The job of an air traffic controller has so many aspects that it tends to lead to as many questions. We have collected the most common ones here. The answers are brief so you can quickly find what you need to know.
Who can I contact if I have questions that are not addressed by the FAQs?
Due to the large volume of applications we receive, we’re unable to respond to individual enquiries in the early stages of the application process. Our primary method of correspondence in the early stages is via email once you have submitted your application. Please ensure you check your Junk and Spam folders to ensure you receive our correspondence.
We look forward to receiving your application, best of luck!
What do air traffic controllers do?
Air Traffic Controllers effectively manage the arrival and departure of more than 156 million passengers annually and are at the centre of our growing aviation industry.
They are at the centre of a dynamic, innovative, digital industry that keeps 11% of the world’s airspace safe.
Air Traffic Controllers track the progress of aircraft using the latest technology. Although aircraft fly to pre-determined schedules, they don’t fly exactly the same way each time, so Air Traffic Controllers must quickly adapt to changing flight plans and unexpected and emergency situations. This is a rewarding role that requires that requires a high level of commitment and responsibility.
Our air traffic controllers are based around the country and work in one of our two major centres in Melbourne or Brisbane, two terminal control units or 28 air traffic control towers at international and regional airports across Australia.
As an air traffic controller you will also find yourself connecting with talented people and great opportunities. You’ll enjoy ongoing training, excellent career development, competitive remuneration and work that’s truly meaningful.
What are the different types of Air Traffic Control and where are the positions based?
There are three types or streams of Air Traffic Control: Enroute, Tower and Approach.
Enroute controllers manage aircraft between airports from two centres based in Brisbane and Melbourne.
Tower controllers manage aircraft arriving and departing from airports. We have 28 control towers located around Australia, and on completion of your training, you will be transferred to any of these 28 tower locations. We’ll notify you of this location approximately three months prior to completing your training, so you’ll have plenty of time to plan and pack.
Approach or terminal controllers coordinate the sequencing of traffic between enroute and tower to ensure an orderly flow of aircraft arriving and departing from busy airports. Terminal controllers are located in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. This is incredibly complex and fast paced and is only open to experienced controllers, it is not available to initial trainees.
Once trainees have consolidated their training, about three to five years, they may apply for transfer to an alternate location or stream. This will usually require additional training.
Is it really stressful being an air traffic controller?
Air traffic controllers are chosen for a number of qualities, including the ability to stay calm under pressure, the ability to make decisions while processing different types of information and excellent spatial awareness. These abilities are assessed to see if you have them to begin with and then are developed and extended with rigorous training.
Although air traffic control can be stressful at times, you’ll will be fully trained to cope with all aspects of your job.
I would like to arrange a time to visit one of the Air Traffic Control facilities to have a chat with people to get to know more about the role. How can I arrange this?
We are unable to arrange visits to Airservices facilities as our facilities are ‘safety critical’ environment. We usually only accept visits to our facilities for business reasons.
We suggest you see what our Air Traffic Controllers have to say about the job on our YouTube channel.
How many flights and passengers does Airservices move each year?
Each year, we manage over four million aircraft movements carrying more than 156 million passengers and provide air navigation services across 11 per cent of the world’s airspace. Airservices has two major operating centres in Melbourne and Brisbane, and a corporate office in Canberra. We operate 28 air traffic control towers at international and regional airports, and provide aviation rescue fire-fighting services at 26 Australian airports.
What is the salary for an Air Traffic Control trainee?
Your salary will be in accordance with our Air Traffic Control Enterprise Agreement 2017-2020
What sort of employee benefits can I look forward to?
We offer an attractive package of rewards and benefits, even when you first join us for your training.
You can check our benefits in the Air Traffic Control Enterprise Agreement 2017-2020 but further information on our benefits will be provided when you join us.
Does Airservices Australia conduct drug and alcohol testing?
Airservices Australia is committed to safe aviation practice. Air Traffic Controllers perform safety sensitive aviation activities and, as such, all our controllers, including trainees, are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. Random testing can take place at any time.
Does Airservices Australia value Diversity and Inclusion?
At Airservices Australia we value and respect diversity and inclusion. We understand and embrace individual difference and seek to recruit and retain Air Traffic Controllers who represented the communities in which we operate.
Why? Because we want the best to join our team! We know that diversity in the workplace enriches our environment and results in better business outcomes.
We are committed to recognising the unique contribution you can make to our team. We want to ensure you feel welcome and that you have environment to thrive as an ATC Trainee.
You can listen to what some of our people have to say about working with us.
I’ve heard that air traffic control trainees must sign a Training Bond Agreement, but what does this mean?
New recruits are required to sign a Training Bond Agreement and commit to Airservices for a five (5) year period following successful completion of training. If the training bond is broken during this time, we ask candidates to repay a proportion of their training fees.
If you happen to go on maternity leave during the 5 year period, we will not ask you to pay a portion of the training costs back as long as you return to work. In addition, the year that you may have off on maternity leave does not count as part of your 5 year bond period. If you do not return from maternity leave then we would ask that you pay a portion of your training costs back.
Is there re-location assistance available if I’m coming from interstate or overseas?
If you need to relocate to Melbourne for your training Airservices may provide limited assistance to you, depending on individual circumstances. We can discuss your circumstances once you have been offered a role with us.
Do Air Traffic Controllers work shifts?
Yes. Australia’s airspace is managed 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Rosters are prepared for air traffic controllers several months in advance and each controller will share in working day, evening and night shift as well as weekends and public holidays. These rosters vary from location to location and are dependent on operational requirements.
There are comprehensive fatigue management systems in place to ensure that Air Traffic Controllers have reasonable breaks between and during shifts. Average hours across a fortnight period are 72 hours. Further information about the working conditions including hours of work is included in the Airservices Australia (Air Traffic Control and Supporting Air Services) Enterprise Agreement which can be found on our website.
I’m a Defence Reservist, will I be able to fulfil my military service obligations as a trainee?
Yes, you will. As a Trainee Air Traffic Controller, you will be entitled to take a period of leave each year to fulfil your Defence service obligations.
Recruitment Process Information
What does the Selection Process involve?
While every effort is made to keep the recruitment process as short as possible, please understand that the process to appoint trainee air traffic controllers is thorough and will take some months to complete. Details relating to the end-to-end recruitment and selection process are available on our website.
What sort of tests will I be required to do during the selection process?
If your application meets our requirements, we will ask you to complete our online tests. These ability tests are specifically designed to see if you have what it takes to become an Air Traffic Controller. We measure your ability to follow written instructions, your numerical and verbal reasoning ability, your spatial awareness and if you can work with complicated patterns and check data.
What if I experience a problem or have an issue while undergoing the online testing?
Please ensure you read the CANDIDATE HELP section of the online testing site. This site provides information on how to get assistance. Please allow yourself plenty of time to complete this stage of the testing so that you can meet the testing period deadline and avoid disappointment.
SHL for technical difficulties:
Phone: 1800 091 846
Can I Prepare for the Online Testing?
You do not need to study for these assessments. However, we encourage you to visit this website which provides more information about the types of assessments you are invited to complete.
Familiarisation with the types of questions and timing of the tests will help you feel more relaxed in the real test situation, and give you a better opportunity to show your true ability. SHL Direct also provides a number of practice tests to assist with your preparation.
Please note: the practice tests do not provide you with an exact like-for-like experience of the online system that will be used to complete your tests. Instead, the practice tests provide a similar testing.
In addition to preparing for the online assessment, the next best thing you can do is make sure you’re well rested.
What are the minimum requirements to apply to be an Air Traffic Control Trainee role?
The following outlines the mandatory criteria to apply to be a ATC Trainee. You must be able to meet the following requirements without exception.
1. Be a minimum of 18 years of age
2. Australian Citizen – Evidence required is an Australian passport, Australian citizenship certificate or Australian birth certificate*.
*If you were born in Australia after 20 August 1986 an Australian birth certificate does not automatically prove citizenship. You must provide proof that at least one parent was a permanent resident at the time of your birth. If one or both parents are listed on the birth certificate as being born in Australia then this is sufficient. If both parents were born overseas then you must provide a citizenship certificate, passport or visa confirming the parent’s residency status at the time of your birth.
3. New Zealand Citizen – Evidence required is a New Zealand passport
4. Evidence of Australian Permanent Residency Status – a letter from the Department of Home Affairs stating that the visa entitles you to stay and work in Australia indefinitely without any restrictions OR a visa label in your passport
For applicants with an Australian Qualification, you need to provide at least one of the following: Note that all qualifications must have been completed within the past 10 years.
5. Year 12 Certificate
6. A copy of a completed Tertiary Diploma from a nationally recognised training organisation;
(Diploma has to be completed, please look for a symbol of Nationally Recognized Training or Australian Qualification Framework appearing at the bottom of the certificate).
7. A copy of your completed Degree;
(Degree has to be completed with a degree certificate; OR Academic transcript with a graduation date).
8. A copy of your current Australian or NZ Commercial Pilot Licence or Private Pilot Licence. If you have other relevant Pilot or aviation licences these should also be provided. Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) is accepted as it is a pre-requisite for obtaining an Australian Commercial Pilot License (ACPL), however both ATPL and CPL must be visible on the licence. We do not accept a Flight Crew Licence.
I was born after 20 August 1986, how do I prove that I am an Australian citizen?
People born in Australia after 20 August 1986 are not automatically granted Australian citizenship. They must have had at least one parent who was an Australian permanent resident at the time they were born to be deemed an Australian citizen. If you are unable to provide proof of citizenship such as an Australia passport or citizenship certificate then you may be required to provide additional documentation.
If your birth certificate shows at least one parent was born In Australia then this will suffice. If both parents were born overseas then you must provide evidence that at least one was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of your birth. This can include your parent’s Australian passport or citizenship certificate, visa label in their passport or formal advice from the Department of Home Affairs.
I do not currently meet the minimum requirements or do not have the correct documentation, what are my options?
We require applicants to meet all our minimum requirements at the time of application. Should you apply without meeting our requirements or be unable to provide the documentary evidence you will be deemed unsuccessful. This will then count as one application of only two that you may make for the role of ATC Trainee. To avoid disappointment, please wait until you are able to meet our requirements before applying.
I have a recorded conviction/criminal record. Could I ‘successfully’ pass a police check to work in air traffic control?
You must be able to obtain and hold an Aviation Security Identity Card (ASIC). A prior conviction may impact on your ability to do this. We are not able to provide specific advice about which types of conviction may or may not deem you ineligible.
If you have any doubts as to whether you will be able to satisfy this requirement you can either contact the Australian Federal Police or undertake your own criminal history check via the AFP’s application form.
What happens if I have been refused the issue of a licence of certificate by CASA or its delegate?
This needs to be disclosed to Airservices at the time of application in order to evaluate your eligibility to be granted an ATC Licence. Similar to the Class 3 Medical your eligibility to be granted an ATC Licence must be assessed and confirmed prior to training commencement.
What happens if I’ve had a license or qualification suspended or cancelled by CASA?
This needs to be disclosed to Airservices at the time of application in order to evaluate your eligibility to potentially be granted an ATC License. Similar to the Class 3 Medical your eligibility to be granted an ATC Licence must be assessed and confirmed prior to training commencement.
What are the additional requirements for candidates who have been living away from Australia?
You must be able to obtain an Aviation Security Identity Card (ASIC). To support this application will need to provide evidence of your Australian citizenship or permanent residency entitlement along with all relevant educational qualifications. When you apply for an ASIC you may be asked to further information to support your application if you have been living away from Australia.
Does Airservices consider applicants with prior experience?
Yes, we do. Please refer to our website for further information on our experienced Air Traffic Controller Program.
Can I send in an application for a position as an Air Traffic Controller?
No, sorry we do not accept stand-alone CV uploads. All applications with Airservices Australia must be completed through our online recruitment application process.
What if I’ve misplaced my Year 12 Certificate? Can I still apply?
To be eligible to apply, you do need to provide us with the required documentary evidence that you meet the educational pre-requisites.
If you’re providing your Year 12 education as evidence and have misplaced your Year 12 Certificate, you will need to obtain a copy according to the state or territory where you completed your secondary education. You may find the links below helpful.
Are there any age restrictions for ATC Trainees?
The only restriction is that you need to be at least 18 years of age when you submit your application. There is no a maximum age restriction for ATC Trainees. We will train any candidate who successfully completes the recruitment process.
Some points to consider:
Should you be successful then you would be required to commit to working for Airservices for a period of five years following training.
You must also meet our minimum education requirements completed within the last ten years.
The Initial Training Program is intensive and we do look for candidates to demonstrate that they have recently undertaken and been successful in study at an appropriate level.
If meet these requirements and are interested in the role, then you are encouraged to apply.
How much will it cost me to do the Air Traffic Control training?
There is no cost and you will become a paid employee of Airservices Australia on commencement.
However, whilst training in Melbourne you will be required to provide your own accommodation. Please note that there is no public transport to the Initial Training Facility. The use of private transport is required and free parking is provided.
What Education qualifications do I need to apply?
You must be able to provide evidence that you have obtained ONE of the following requirements in the past ten years. We understand some of you may be working toward these qualifications, but unfortunately there are no exceptions to these requirements at this time.
- a Year 12 Certificate
- a completed Tertiary Diploma
- a completed Degree
- a current Commercial Pilot Licence or Private Pilot Licence (Australian or New Zealand issued).
Why does Airservices require applicants to have completed a qualification within the last 10 years?
The recent attainment of a qualification demonstrates an individual’s current skill and ability to undertake intensive training over a course of some duration.
My qualification is older than 10 years. Can I still apply? Can I sit a stat test?
The education prerequisites give us an indication of your capability and commitment to complete the air traffic control training program. We require evidence that you have recently completed one of the required qualifications within the last 10 years. Sitting a STAT test does not qualify as completing an education requirement within the last 10 years.
Should you complete an eligible qualification in the future, we would be happy to accept your application at that time.
I have an overseas qualification. Can I use this to meet the educational prerequisites?
We do accept international qualifications however these must be accompanied by an assessment that the international qualification is equivalent to an eligible Australian qualification. This must be done PRIOR to submitting your application.
Please also refer to the ‘Minimum Requirements’ Section of these FAQs for further details relating to mandatory education qualifications and residency status.
What kinds of medical conditions are likely to affect my chances of obtaining the required medical standard to work as an air traffic controller?
You are required to pass a CASA Class III medical.
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with specific information regarding medical requirements but strongly suggest that you familiarise yourself with the Medical Standards required in the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Regulation 1998, under volume 2, Part 67. In particular Table 67.160 details specifically the medical criterion required to meeting medical standard 3 available here.
You are also able to contact CASA directly on 02 6217 1641 or 1300 737 032 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss your condition and the medical process.
What is the Assessment Centre?
We ask selected candidates to attend a one day Assessment Centre in Melbourne, at their own cost, where you will undergo further cognitive and technical assessment. Candidates can undergo behavioral based assessments and computer simulated Air Traffic Control competency tests.
Whilst the day is challenging, most candidates enjoy the day and learn more about themselves from the process. Final candidate selection is made at the completion of this Assessment Centre.
What if I have not received a response to my application?
All correspondence is conducted by email in the most part. Occasionally some candidates may receive an SMS to confirm that an email or correspondence has been sent.
- PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU CHECK YOUR SPAM OR JUNK FOLDERS.
- PLEASE REMEMBER THE EMAIL ADDRESS YOU USED FOR YOUR APPLICATION.
Due to the high volume of applications we are not able to provide candidates with their results or give feedback about this stage of the process.
How many times can I apply?
Candidates have a limit of two application attempts.
This means that if you are unsuccessful at any stage of the process it will count as an attempt. i.e.
- Application not processed to first stage online testing
- Did not advance passed Online Testing
- Did not advance passed Assessment Centre.
- If you withdraw at any stage of the process it will count as one attempt.
If there are circumstances where you were unable to complete the online testing due to a verified personal hardship i.e. death in family, serious illness, then this will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
How long do I need to wait before applying again if unsuccessful the first time?
When someone is made unsuccessful at any stage of the recruitment and selection process, they need to wait a full 12 months from the time that they were made unsuccessful before re-applying.
ATC Training Information – Diploma of Aviation
How long does it take to become an air traffic controller?
The training program varies but may take up to 18 months and is located at our training facility in Melbourne, therefore you must be able to relocate to Melbourne for your training.
Training delivery is face-to-face and consists of theory and practical components, with practical training undertaken in air traffic control simulators. A large amount of effort and study is required throughout the training program, and each stage of training has a critical milestone which must be successfully completed in order to continue training. During training you will work towards the AV150115 Diploma of Aviation (Air Traffic Control). This is a nationally recognised qualification, developed specifically for the Australian aviation industry.
On successful completion of the AVI50115 Diploma of Aviation (Air Traffic Control), you undergo on-the-job workplace training for three to six months. This is the final phase of your training, after which you may be eligible to obtain an air traffic control licence. Completion of the AVI50115 Diploma of Aviation (Air Traffic Control) can provide credit transfer entitlements for further Higher Education Studies.
How many candidates are recommended for training?
Our operational requirements vary each year but approximately 50 to 80 recruits can enter our training program in any one year.
When does the ATC training start and end?
Training courses are staggered over the year. You could commence at any time, and the training will may take up to 18 months. On completion of this training, you’ll progress to final field training which is on-the-job, managing live traffic with an instructor for a period of approximately three to six months.
What are the ATC training times? Can I get any leave during training?
While attending Initial Training, trainees work Monday to Friday about 7.5 hours per day with varying start times between 7:00 and 9:00 am and trainees need to expect a significant amount of homework. There is a two week shutdown period at Christmas and scheduled leave for at least a week during the course. Individual requests for leave are not usually granted but will be considered on a case by case basis.
What happens once I complete the Air Traffic Control training?
Once you have successfully completed your training you will be offered a location which is determined by the needs of the business. Although most of our trainees are successful in obtaining a role with us on completion of training, this is not guaranteed and will depend on your performance throughout the entire training period.
Do all trainees qualify after training?
Most, but not all trainees qualify after their initial training period. Training is demanding and requires a strong commitment to study. You must keep your end goal in mind and be determined to succeed.
Why do some trainees fail?
The selection process indicates that you may the attributes to be successful. We will provide the training to help you succeed however, unfortunately not all candidates are successful. It is important to know that each module of training requires successful completion before progressing to the next stage and that all modules need to be successfully completed to pass the course.
The course is not easy and requires a mix of skills and motivation to sustain learning during the inevitably difficult periods. Some trainees may lack the maturity and motivation to meet the demands of the course.
On completion of training in the Tower, I understand I may be posted to any of the 28 control tower locations based on operational requirements. Can I apply for a transfer later to a location of my choice?
Yes, once you have qualified as a controller, you may apply for positions in other locations as they become available.
What are my prospects for advancement within Airservices Australia?
We encourage career-long learning and advancement and promote regularly from within. You’ll have opportunities to move into management, take on special projects, become an instructor, or move to other parts of Australia.
Will I later be able to work abroad with this form of training?
The training to become an air traffic controller at Airservices Australia is carried out according to international guidelines. Nevertheless, there can be large variations in the recruitment requirements from country to country.
Is it possible to visit the training facility or talk with one of the training instructors?
Requests for visits to training facilities will only be considered after you have been selected for an Assessment Centre. Whilst at the Assessment Centre, we’ll take you on a short tour of the simulator and training facilities. We’ll do our best to accommodate requests for viewing outside of the arranged times, but this subject to staff and facilities being available.