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Career as Air Traffic Control Officer

An Air Traffic Controller usually guides and helps the planes both on the ground and in the sky. With the help of technology, they can see all air traffic in any area. They have to coordinate the traffic to make sure of the take-off and landing of the flight in a safe manner. They have to communicate with the pilots and inform them about the right time to take-off and landing. They also provide weather-related issues on the ground at the airport. The controllers have to direct airport personnel as well. Recently, many developments have taken place in this industry, and therefore, it has become the most in-demand career. You should read about this career if you want to get a prominent Air Traffic Controller. In the coming years, the profession will surely get the momentum as many leading airlines are offering the job role to qualified controllers with excellent salary packages.

Job Profile

Career as Air Traffic Control Officer

Air Traffic Controllers are holding around 24,300 jobs, and most of them work for the FAA. The controllers work in control towers, en route centers and in control facilities. Approach and Departure Controllers have to work in a dark room. The controllers must maintain maximum concentration and be able to react quickly.

Usually, the controllers have to work a full day and sometimes with some additional working hours. In a 10 hour long shift, they may have a gap or rest of 9 hours before the next shift.

Controllers may rotate their shifts during the day, evening and night as the control facility operates continuously. They may have to work on weekends and holidays as well. In less busy airports, the towers may not operate 24 hours. 

Job Profile of Air Traffic Controllers

In the aviation sector, Air Traffic Controller job profile is one of the most restrictive careers. It includes various other specializations as well. The popular job roles and salaries are not the same for them. Some popular profiles for this job role are listed below:

Air Traffic Controller
: They are responsible for monitoring and directing the aircraft movement on the ground and air through radar and. They also control ground traffic at the airport.

Tower Controller: They are responsible for directing the vehicle movements on the runway, taxiway and checking for various flight plans. 

Approach and Departure Controller: They have to control the en-route of aircraft. They have to use radar equipment to monitor flight paths and provide weather-related information to the pilots.

Name of Job/Role

On training completion, the salary of Air Traffic Controllers generally increases. With time, they can also complete other successive training levels as well. Their salary depends on various factors for example their on-the-job training and location. Among all different levels, the salary of the Air Traffic Controller is the highest and they can see better growth as well.


 Name of Job/Role

Average Salary offered after 2-5 Years of work

Top Recruiting Companies

 Air Traffic Controller 

For Sr. Level more than Rs. 9,00,000 per year

  • Octamec Group
  • Bengaluru International Airport
  • Air Works
  • Deli Indira Gandhi International Airport
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport

Approach/Departure Controller


For Sr. Level more than Rs. 7,00,000 per year

En Route Controller

For Mid-Level Rs 4-6 Lacs per annum


Pros and Cons of Air Traffic Controller



  • Certified controllers can enjoy attractive perks
  • Great job satisfaction
  • It’s a challenging and rewarding job
  • Interesting work environment 



  • Shift jobs can be stressful
  • You may miss social life and festivals
  • Job has lots of pressure and needs attention

How do I get there?

If you want to become a professional air controller, then you should possess a Bachelor’s in Science or B.Sc degree with Physics and Mathematics as mandatory subjects. For this, after 10th, you should have mathematics and science as core subjects. At UG level, the aspirants should also have Physics and Mathematics. If you have done PG then at graduate level you should also possess this qualification.

Moreover, apart from this B.Tech and B.E degree you can also apply for ATC or Air Traffic Controller post. Minimum required percentage is 60% for the course. Some specific requirements may include the following:

For UG Course


  • Graduation degree with minimum 60% marks. The minimum marks rule may vary depending on the category
  • For general students, age should be less than 27 years whereas for reserved categories a relaxation is there up to 5 years to apply for the ATC program

For PG Course


  • Candidates must have some experience of the aviation industry
  • Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in the respective field


The tuition fee may vary from one school to another and one program to another. FAA also offers training programs to become Air Traffic controller either through school or through military training; several degree options are available for the same. Depending on your choice of program and school, the special fee may vary. Several degrees and diploma programs for UG and PG levels are offered, and few of them are listed below:


  • Aircraft Maintenance
  • Avionics
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Aviation Manager

The FAA offers all programs, and the cost of these programs ranges from $10,000 to $35,000. However, some schools also offer this program. The fees of the programs may include tuition fees, registration charges, including other charges.

Future Growth Prospects and How to get there faster

In the future, you can see better growth in the career of the Air Traffic Controller. The rising number of airlines proves it. However, the salary stated here for various profiles sometimes also depends on the company and individual as well. Still, you will get better salary hikes with experience and can get a managerial position as well after having sufficient experience.

The time to complete the training program depends on an individual’s skills. However, the training program is 3-5 months long and a bachelor’s degree may take three years. Sometimes it may require professional experience as well, so it can be said that it will take around five years to become certified professional.

What are the Top Colleges where one should be studying to become an Air Traffic Controller?

FAA offers a complete list of the approved schools for training of Air Traffic Controller programs on its website. The Federal Aviation Administration or FAA website can be checked for the information.


Rank of College

Name of College, City

  Programme Fees   



University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND

  Approx $19,292 per academic year


Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

  Fee depends of course



Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN

The fee will be as per chosen Aviation course

Books and other Study Material

To become an Air Traffic Controller, you should have a robust Maths and Physics base. To apply for Junior Executive Controllers, the candidate must have strong textual and non-textual knowledge. Some recommended books for exam preparation are:


  • Automation and Systems Issues in Air Traffic Control (Nato ASI Subseries F:)” by John A Wise and V David Hopkins
  • Air Traffic Control Test Prep by Learning Express LLC
  • Air Traffic Controller Career Prep by Patrick R Mattson
  • The Pilots Air Traffic Control Handbook by Paul E Gilman

What if this career does not work out for me? What are the other options for a person with these credentials?

In case you do not feel that this is a perfect career for you, you can pursue other options as well. You can also try to peruse Airline Commercial Pilot as a career. They are responsible for navigating planes, helicopters and other aircraft.

Content on this page is by Career Expert
Mrs. Kum Kum Tandon
MA (Psychology), M.Ed, Diploma in Educational Psychology, Vocational Guidance & Counseling (NCERT, Delhi) | View Complete Profile

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