Air Traffic Controller

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Air traffic controllers manage the safe and orderly flow of aircraft into, out of and between airports in Australia and with overseas regions adjoining Australian airspace. FutureGrowthModerate

Air traffic controllers manage the safe and orderly flow of aircraft into, out of and between airports - locally, interstate and overseas - and between those regions adjoining a particular country’s airspace. This is done by remaining in radio communication with pilots to keep aircraft separated in controlled, monitored airspaces, as well as ensuring that aircraft abide by their pre-arranged routes and altitudes.

ANZSCO ID & description: 231112: Ensures the safe and efficient movement of aircraft in controlled airspace and aerodromes by directing aircraft movements (registration or licensing is required).

Alternative names: Enroute Controller, Terminal Area Controller, Tower Controller


  • Area Controller: Based in a regional control centre, tracking and guiding aircraft safely through the sector.

  • Enroute Controller: An enroute controller is responsible for the safe management of air traffic over most of the Australian mainland and on oceanic routes. The use of satellite and digital data communications is increasing in this type of control. Enroute controllers are employed in Brisbane and Melbourne.

  • Terminal Area Controller:  A terminal area controller uses radar to manage and arrange the flow of aircraft which arrive at and depart from major city airports. They are responsible for the controlled airspace surrounding an airport out to a distance of approximately 30 nautical miles. Terminal area controllers are employed in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Coolangatta, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
    Also called Approach Controller as they manage aircraft as they near the airport and arrange them into correct landing order.

  • Tower Controller or Aerodrome Controller: A tower controller works from control towers at aerodromes and is responsible for all aircraft and vehicle movements on the taxiways and runways, and in the immediate surrounding airspace. They relay landing instructions to pilots as they descend.
    The Aerodrome Controller role often includes ground control duties, for instance directing aircraft on the runway after landing and before take off, and to and from parking stands and holding areas.There are 26 towers located at capital cities and busier regional airports around Australia.

Air Traffic Controller


Knowledge, skills and attributes

An air traffic controller needs: Radar

  • to be able to make quick and accurate decisions

  • the ability to work calmly under pressure

  • the ability to concentrate on tasks

  • excellent communication skills to give clear instructions

  • the ability to interpret information from different sources

  • the ability to check information quickly and accurately.

  • excellent computer skills & aptitude for working with computers

  • to have a good understanding and clear practical application of the English language

  • to be at least 18 years of age

  • to be able to satisfy aviation medical requirements.

  • able to make quick and accurate decisions

  • confident, highly responsible, self-motivated, and independent, but able to work in a team

  • Australian or New Zealand citizenship, or Australian permanent residency


Duties and Tasks Air Traffice Control Tower

Air traffic controllers may perform the following tasks:

  • maintain radio contact with pilots to keep aircraft separated in 'corridors' of controlled airspace, on air routes and near major airports

  • make sure that aircraft operate only on pre-arranged routes and altitudes

  • use radar to monitor and control aircraft movements

  • provide information and assistance to pilots and emergency services during in-flight emergencies.


Tools and technologies

The role of air traffic controller is highly technical in nature. Familiarisation and utilisation of radiotelephony, complex computer systems and radar technology is required.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an air traffic controller, you need to undertake training either through Airservices Australia or the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

To be eligible for the Airservices course, you need to have completed either year 12 with university entrance, a degree or diploma from a recognised Australian tertiary institution, or have obtained a current commercial or private pilot licence.

​To become an air traffic controller with the RAAF requires entry into the Royal Australian Air Force as an officer and completion of air force training courses in air traffic control.

Employment Opportunities

Employment of air traffic controllers is projected to show little or no change. Most employment opportunities will result from the need to replace workers who retire.

As air traffic increases, employment growth will be influenced mainly by the building of new airports.


Did You Know?


Qantas Airways Limited is the flag carrier of Australia.

The name was originally "QANTAS", an acronym for "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services".

Nicknamed "The Flying Kangaroo", the airline is based in Sydney, with its main hub at Sydney Airport.

It is Australia's largest airline, the oldest continuously operated airline in the world and the second oldest in the world overall.


Air Traffic Controller


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