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 manage the safe and orderly flow of aircraft into, out of, and between airports throughout Australia and with overseas regions adjoining Australian airspace. They issue instructions, advice and information to pilots by radio to keep air traffic flying safely and efficiently. In a nutshell, they tell aircraft to go up, go down, turn right, turn left, go faster or and slower. They track the progress of the pilots they talk to using the latest in radar and software technology. Although aircraft fly to pre-determined schedules, they don’t fly exactly the same way each day, so air traffic controllers must quickly adapt to changing flight plans and unexpected weather conditions and events, such as unscheduled traffic and emergency situations. This is a rewarding role 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’re unable to arrange visits to Airservices air traffic control facilities and centres. Our facilities and centres are a safety critical environment where it is important for as few distractions as possible. With very rare exceptions, we normally only accept visits to our air traffic control facilities and centres for business reasons.
Why don’t you check-out what our air traffic controllers have to say about the job on our YouTube channel.
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!
On joining as a Trainee Air Traffic Controller, you’ll get a basic salary of $48,929, along with an attractive benefits package. This will include everything from a contributory superannuation scheme and generous annual leave to a whole host of other benefits, including onsite parking and spectacle prescription reimbursement.
As an air traffic control trainee based in Melbourne, you’ll be able to keep fit and resilient with our free onsite yoga classes and gymnasium facilities.
We understand that the work we do can be demanding, so should you ever face any problems, we offer free confidential professional counselling for work, personal and family issues. Better still, the program covers all employees and their immediate families.
For now, you can check-out our benefits in the Air Traffic Control Enterprise Agreement, but further information on our benefits will be provided when you join us.
Do 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. Australian Legislation sets strict limits on blood-alcohol levels (well below the drink/drive levels) and drugs are forbidden. Be aware – 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 not only have an aptitude and passion for aviation, but who also come from a range of backgrounds and perspectives.
Why? Because we want the best to join our team!
We know that diversity in the workplace makes us all higher performers. It makes us stronger by promoting new ideas and new ways of thinking. It generates creativity and adaptability.
For all these reasons and more, we are committed to recognising the unique contribution you make to our team, and we make it our responsibility to make sure you have the tools and environment to thrive as an air traffic controller trainee.
Have a 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?
Air traffic control 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 won’t 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 went on maternity leave and did not return then we would ask that you pay a portion of your training costs back.
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.
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.
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’ve been successful in in your application.
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 air traffic controllers in training. We will train any candidate who successfully completes the recruitment process.
Some points to consider are that there is a five year training bond. 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 undertaken and been successful in study at an appropriate level recently.
Should you 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 to become a Trainee air traffic controller. Successful candidates will become a paid employee of Airservices Australia.
However whilst training in Melbourne you will be required to provide your own accommodation. Also there is no available public transport to the Initial Training Facility. The use of private transport is required and free parking is provided.
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.
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?
Airservices requires our trainee air traffic controllers to have appropriate learning and study skills and recent study experience to enable them to progress through their training and become endorsed air traffic controllers. The 10-year recency period has been adopted as the attainment of a qualification in this period demonstrates an individual’s current skill and ability to undertake intensive training over a long duration course.
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?
To work as an air traffic controller you are required to pass a CASA Class III medical.
Unfortunately, we’re 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 email@example.com if you wish to discuss your condition and the medical process.
I’m a Defence Reservist, will I be able to fulfil my military service obligations as a trainee?
Yes, you sure 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.
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 ability tests and personality questionnaire. These ability tests are specifically designed to see if you have the ability to successfully complete an air traffic control traineeship. We measure your ability to follow written instructions, to visualise three dimensionally, work with complicated patterns and numbers and check data. We also measure your numerical ability. If you are successful at this stage, you will be considered for a place at an Assessment Centre.
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 is the Assessment Centre?
We ask selected candidates to attend a one day Assessment Centre in Melbourne, at their own cost, where they undergo further cognitive and technical assessment. Candidates are also assessed in group and individual activities and interviewed by key Airservices Australia staff.
Although this is an in-depth process, most candidates have given us feedback that they have enjoyed the day and have learnt more about themselves from the process. Final candidate selection is made at the completion of this Assessment Centre.
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.
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.
How many candidates are recommended for training?
Our operational requirements vary each year, but roughly 50 to 80 recruits enter our training program at any one time.
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 candidates have successfully completed and passed their training, they are allocated a location which will be determined by the needs of the business. Although most of our trainees are successful in obtaining a role as an air traffic controller 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. There’s no getting away from the fact that air traffic control 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 into the Training Program ensures you have the basic aptitudes needed to be successful. We’ll also provide the training resources to help you succeed, however unfortunately not all candidates are successful in training. 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.
An air traffic control traineeship is not easy and requires a mix of skills and motivation to succeed during the difficult periods. Failures can happen due to several factors. In addition to lack of ability or aptitude, some trainees may lack the maturity and motivation to meet the demands of the traineeship. Other factors may also impact on a trainee’s success, such as homesickness.
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.
What is the salary for an Air Traffic Control trainee?
While a trainee controller you will earn $48,929
- During final field training you will earn $73,395
- Upon initial air traffic control rating you will earn $99,898
What are the minimum requirements to apply to be an Air Traffic Control Trainee role?
The following outlines the mandatory criteria you need to be able to meet to lodge an application for Air Traffic Control Training. At this stage our recruitment policy is non-negotiable and 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 – Evidence required is the letter from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection stating that the visa entitles the candidate to stay and work in Australia indefinitely without any restrictions OR a visa label in their 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 Immigration and Border Protection.
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 Air Traffic Controller in training. To avoid disappointment, please wait until you are able to meet our requirements before applying.
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.
My qualification is more than ten years are you sure you can’t make an exception?
We receive a very high volume of applications for this role and we must apply our recruitment process consistently and fairly across all applicants. To be eligible to apply you must meet our minimum requirements.
We regularly review our process and evaluate areas for improvement and change and there may be changes to our requirements in the future. We therefore do not recommend that applicants undertake courses purely for the purposes of applying for this role.
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.
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 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 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 sure do! Please refer to our website for further information on our experienced Air Traffic Controller Program.
Can I send in a CV application for a position as an Air Traffic Controller?
No, sorry we do not accept stand-alone CV uploads. All applications to become an air traffic controller with Airservices Australia, including CV uploads, 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.