Air Traffic Controller



OFO No: 315401





Other names for Air Traffic Controller:

Aerodrome Controller
Air Traffic Service Operator


What is an Air Traffic Controller?

According to research, a career in Air Traffic Control (ATC) is one of the most stressful jobs in the world.

Do you have the ability to work and stay calm under extreme stress? Do you have a love for flying or would love to be involved in the trafficking Air transport? Then consider working as an Air Traffic Controller.

Air Traffic Controllers maintain the safe orderly, expeditious and efficient flow of air traffic. They monitor the movement of aircraft along major air routes and around airports by giving pilots instructions and advice as to height, speed and course. 

The majority of controllers work at control centres as area controllers responsible for keeping aircraft flying the airways.

Others work as approach controllers dealing with aircraft movement into and out of the airport, or aerodrome controllers guiding aircraft through landing and to the terminal.

What does an Air Traffic Controller do?

  • keep radio and/or radar contact with aircraft
  • direct the movement of aircraft en route or at an airport
  • instruct aircraft to climb or descend and allocate final cruising level
  • provide information to aircraft about weather conditions
  • make sure that minimum distances are maintained between planes
  • handle unexpected events, emergencies and unscheduled traffic
  • control take-offs and landings
  • monitor approacing and departing and en-route control information
  • Approach Controllers

are based at a control centre or an airport tower. They guide and sequence aircraft into the most efficient order for landing. This includes dealing with instrument landing systems that allow some planes to make automatic landings and making sure that planes are placed in holding patterns when airports are busy. 

  • Aerodrome Controllers

take over to guide the aircraft through landing and to its parking stand at the terminal. Their roles may be further sub-divided into air control and ground control at very busy airports. Their activities include: controlling movements onto and off runways; handling the ground movement of planes around the terminals.

Are you . . . ?

  • responsible?
  • reliable?
  • a person who can concentrate for long periods?
  • observant?
  • a good communicator?
  • able to deal with pressure and emergencies?
  • logical?
  • a good planner?
  • a problem solver?

How do I become an Air Traffic Controller?


To become a civilian ATC in South Africa, training is provided by Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) through the Aviation Training Academy.  The course takes 4-6 years before you are fully qualified.  

‘ATNS is proud to provide bursaries for motivated and interested candidates to train to become Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCO’s)’ – ATNS

Minimum requirements:

18 year +
Grade 12 with Mathematics and English
South African Citizen
Medically fit

Once qualified you will begin your career as an ATC Assistant.  From here you will progress to Aerodrome Control and finally to Procedural and/or Radar Control.


OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER:  Agriculture Pilot or Aircraft Mechanic

Is becoming an Air Traffic Controller the right career choice for me?


18-02-2015 – Posted on Facebook