How to become an Air Traffic Controller

Are you looking for an interesting and demanding career? Are you passionate about aviation? Then becoming an Air Traffic Controller may be a great career choice for you. Aviation careers offer lucrative and rewarding job opportunities. Here is some more information about what to expect if you are looking for Aviation jobs.


What skills and personal qualities does an Air Traffic Controller need?

While there are plenty of advantages to becoming an Air Traffic Controller, it is well-known for being a highly stressful job. When it comes to Airport jobs, Air Traffic Controller is one of the most demanding. To be successful in this career, you will need to be capable of operating under high pressure. A passion for planes is also advantageous. You will need to be responsible and reliable to advance in this career. It is necessary to have high concentration levels and be observant if you want to become a competent Air Traffic Controller. Excellent communication skills are required for this position. This career requires you to be logical and have outstanding planning skills.

What duties does an Air Traffic Controller perform?

As an Air Traffic Controller you will be responsible for the organization of air traffic. It is crucial that the air traffic is organized efficiently to ensure the safety of the passengers on each flight. Another duty which is associated with this position is monitoring the positions of aircrafts on the main air routes. Air Traffic Controllers are required to advise the pilot on the aircraft’s height and speed as they approach the airport.

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Duties which are associated with this position include maintaining communication with the pilot via radio and issuing the pilot with instructions regarding navigation routes. The Air Traffic Controller tells the pilot when to take off and land as well as advising them on their cruising level. Another task is to advise the pilot on current weather conditions. It is crucial for the Air Traffic Controller to make sure that a safe distance is kept between each aircraft. Not only do these types of aviation jobs require you to perform routine tasks, they also must be able to cope with unexpected events as well as emergency situations.

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Where do Air Traffic Controllers find employment?

Most employment opportunities are provided by control centres. Air Traffic Controllers are employed by airports and the job opportunities available will depend on the size of the airport. Smaller airports with less air traffic offer limited job opportunities. Another option is to become a trainer in the Aviation field.


What other employment opportunities are available in Aviation?

You could also find employment as an Aerodrome Controller which involves navigating an aircraft from when it lands to when it reaches the terminal. Aerodome Controllers take over from the Air Traffic Controller during the landing process. If the Aerodome Controller is working at a major airport with heavy air flow, their duties may be split into air or ground control responsibilities. Their tasks include guiding aircrafts during landing and take-off as well as regulating the movements of aircrafts in the vicinity of the terminals.


Another option is to find work as an Approach Controller which focuses specifically on the air traffic in the vicinity of the airport. Approach Controllers work at the control centre. Approach Controllers advise the aircraft on the best organisation for landing. They work with instrument landing systems. They also instruct the aircraft regarding holding patterns when there is heavy air flow.

What training does an Air Traffic Controller need?

If you want to be an Air Traffic Controller in South Africa you will need to complete training at the Aviation Training Academy. Training is offered by the Air Traffic and Navigation Services. You will need to spend four to six years training before you are awarded a full qualification. It is possible to obtain a bursary for your studies if you are motivated and passionate about learning.

You need to be older than eighteen years and have a matric certificate which includes Mathematics and English to be eligible for the training program. Only South African citizens and people who are medically fit are eligible for the training. After you have received your qualification you will need to start off as an Air Traffic Controller’s Assistant to gain relevant experience and develop your skills. Once you have spent time in this position, the next step is to work as a Aerodome Controller before you are eligible for a Procedural Control position.


ATNS (Air Traffic and Navigation Services) is currently offering the ATCO Trainee Bursary Programme, providing bursaries for interested and motivated individuals keen on becoming Air Traffic Control Officers. Learn more about the programme here. ATNS SOC Limited is the only provider of air traffic and navigation services in South Africa, and provides training at the Aviation Training Academy (ATA) at Bonaero Park.


Renowned for offering the best air traffic management, ATNS oversees 100’s of thousands of aircraft take offs and landings every year.
Now that you know more about what Aviation careers entail, you can make an informed decision about what career to pursue. As Aviation jobs require dedication and the ability to work under pressure, it is important that you investigate this career thoroughly before you sign up for training. If you choose a job as an Air Traffic Controller, you can look forward to a lucrative career.

Looking for exciting aviation careers? Job Mail features a range of aviation jobs, including Air Traffic Controllers, so register your CV and start applying today!


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58 Responses

  1. sinenhlanhla says:

    I’m interested in aviation air traffic control. I’m a young Lady of 24 years. I will send my CV upon request

  2. precious says:

    Im very passionate about becoming an air traffic controller,but im doing mathematics literacy im in matric and im 18yrs old…so is maths literacy applicable?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Precious – You’ll have to confirm this with the recruiters / employers who are recruiting air traffic controllers / airlines.

    • Andre says:

      No you need pure Maths and physical science along with geography.

  3. mfundo says:

    I’m writing my matrix exams and I’m very interested in becoming an air traffic controller .I am doing maths & English ,so where do I apply for training

  4. Ahmed says:

    aim interested in avaition air trafic academy in south africa

  5. simone says:

    What’s going age requirements for air traffic couse

  6. Am also interested in this career,i would like to know specifically the colleges or any institutions that offer training in south Africa.

  7. Alex says:

    Is it possible for foreigners to do the training as well?

  8. Zwasshu says:

    Hi am Zwashu can i please have a link to the post of Air traffic control

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Zwasshu – Do a search for “Air Traffic” on Job Mail. We don’t get many positions in this industry, but you can check.

  9. De Wet says:

    Hi there, I am really interested in becoming an air traffic controller. I am currently 30 years old. Is there an age requirement for studying and applying for a position as an ATC?

  10. HASAN says:


    • Vuyi says:

      Hi I am vuyi a founder of a newly formed youth organisation called show more love youth org, I motivate kids from humble backgrounds to dream big and out of the box I have children who are very much interested in aviation as a whole yet they have limited funds though they are doing well in their studies I was wondering where can I get ways and full information for them of who and where can they apply for bursaries may be?

  11. Siyabonu1ga says:

    I’m 16 doing my grade 11 . I do physical sciences and mathematics. I would like to become an ATC, what can I do?

  12. Ricolyn says:

    Hi I’m currently in grade 12.I am doing Mathematics,Physical sciences and English.I want to pursue a career as an air traffic controller.Could you give me more info on how to obtain a bursary and what the bursary covers.Thank you

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Ricolyn – Contact the persons offering the positions / people working in the industry to get more info

  13. Shamin Rama says:

    Please forward me the address for applications for training

  14. Abdul says:

    I am wheelchair bound after a diving accident 8 years ago. I am still working though. My question is, can i study for becoming a Air Traffic Controller, being wheel chair bound.

  15. mashabane masingita says:

    application forms

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Contact the companies in the field. We are not offering this position, we are providing information.

  16. Jacqueline Basson says:

    Where does one apply to study for Air Traffic Controller? Please supply the site as where to begin.

  17. Wiseman mkhize says:

    what does being medically fit mean?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      It means you do not have any health problems that will get in the way of performing certain tasks/duties. These health problems can include diabetes, heart disease, asthma, etc.

  18. wiseman mkhize says:

    what are requirement of getting a bursary?

  19. Wiseman mkhize says:

    how long does it take to finish a course in air traffic controller?

  20. Phillip says:

    Hi my name is Phillip. I am native south african and interested in becoming an air traffic controller

  21. siphesihle says:

    requirements must be included

  22. TGovender says:

    I’m currently studying electronic engineering and want to pursue a career in aviation. Is this a good way to go?

  23. zuki says:

    I would like to know what subjects are required to be an air traffic controller

  24. mbali says:

    Hi , uhmm really interested in becoming a air traffic controller but can find academies where I can apply . please assist me .

  25. Siphelele says:

    Hi I am currently doing grade 12 and I am very interested in being an air traffic controller ,I am doing math ,physics & english but my problem is that I am not yet 18 years old and I do not have a matric certificate right now.Will I,be able to apply ?

  26. NHLANZEKO says:

    hi, i’m currently doing Nautical Studies but I want to apply for air traffic control. I do have maths, physics and English, so what do I need to do?

  27. Lehlohohonolo Patrick says:

    i am matriculant this year and i want to be air traffic controller next year 2018 and this year i am 17 years old and my birthday is in march so i am able to qualify next year

  28. nelisiwe mbona says:

    I am currently doing civil engineering but I’m interested in an air traffic controller. I did maths, physical sciences and english

  29. I am interested in airtrafic job I want to assist the furture of our country

  30. bonga says:

    what do i do after metric if i wanna be an air traffic controller

  31. Chantell says:

    I want to tran as a air traffic controller but the problem is that I got level 3 for physical sciences and a level 2 in mathematics and a level 4 in English so how can you help someone like me who is so patient about aviation like me please help me please

    • Jani Grey says:

      Hi Chantell,

      We’d like to suggest that you contact the institutions who offer training for air traffic controllers to discuss what options they have available. They will be able to guide you and offer suggestions on how you can make this happen for yourself.

      We wish you the best of luck.
      The Job Mail Team

  32. Aviwe says:

    Hi there I’m 23years old and I have grade 9 not matrix so I would like to know can I apply to ATC course I also have ncv certificate Marketing management, Accounting, Management ,Legal principles and Finances. So please call I apply for it its possible?

    • Jani Grey says:

      Hi Aviwe,

      We would like to encourage you to contact the institute where would like to receive ATC training and discuss your options with they. They will be able to best guide you in making this goal a reality.

      Kind regards,
      The Job Mail Team

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