Air Traffic Controller

As an air traffic controller you are in charge of keeping pilots in touch with where they are, what other planes are in the area, what the weather conditions are and being ready to respond in case of an emergency. 

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Air Traffic Controller
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What the job looks like
Salary expectation
starts at $58,175 up to $172,815+
The good
  • Shift work allows flexibility for free time at home
  • Not taking work home
  • No to do lists for the next day at work
  • Potential to be based across Australia
The not so good
  • Having to work some weekends and public holidays

Previous experience in aviation is not necessary to be an air traffic controller but you will need excellent maths skills, especially in the areas of space and time to safely manage the flow of aircraft.

There are three broad categories of air traffic controllers that manage aircraft at different stages of the flight journey: tower, terminal and en route.

It is not a job where you are always under high levels of stress, but you will need to be able to work under pressure at times and provide information and assistance to pilots if they experience an emergency.

If you like working as part of a team and have an interest in aviation or information technology, then a career as an air traffic controller could be for you.

I get to talk to planes all day, it's great fun. I like to be challenged and air traffic controlling is a challenging career.


Pathways to this career

Subject suggestions for the HSC

Choosing your HSC subjects from this list could really help with your career. Think carefully about what you want to study after school as you might need to choose specific HSC subjects for that course and to count towards your ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank). An ATAR is your academic rank in relation to other HSC students and helps with University admission.

HSC subjects 

Some subjects will count towards your ATAR, others will not. Check with your career advisor before making subject selections.

What can I do after I have finished school?

University degrees 

Studying one of these degrees can help with your career.

Courses and qualifications 

Courses and qualifications can give you a great start.


Check out Air Services Australia for more information

  • Figure out if you are a visual person, observant and have what it takes to work under pressure. Try and apply these skills to the subjects you are studying at school to practice them
  • Play computer games, apps or video games that focus on aviation and test your problem solving skills
  • Shift work may involve changes to your sleeping pattern, so get plenty of rest now while you can
  • Organisations like Air Services offer graduate programs so subscribe to e-newsletters and social media sites to keep up to date with information and job opportunities
  • Go to career expos and events like university Open Days for information about what you will study