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Career as Air Traffic Controller

Last Updated By Harleen Kaur on 14 Sep, 2022

How to Become a Air Traffic Controller

About Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of aircraft to maintain safe distances between the aircraft. Their primary concern is safety, but they also must direct aircraft efficiently to minimize delays. They manage the flow of aircraft into and out of the airport airspace, guide pilots during takeoff and landing, and monitor aircraft as they travel through the skies for security purposes. Air traffic controllers use radar, computers, or visual references to monitor and direct the movement of the aircraft in the skies and ground traffic at airports.

An Air Traffic Controller supervises the movement of air machines in the clouds, whether they're fighters, commercial airplanes, Airbus planes, or other planes. Every year, thousands of students aspire to be Air Traffic Controllers, but only a small number of them pass the written tests as well as screening tests to become an Air Traffic Controller. Aspiring candidates can pursue Undergraduate and Postgraduate Aviation Courses at any of the Top Aviation Colleges in the nation, including Jamia Millia Islamia, Kristu Jayanti College, Amity University Noida, and others, in order to become an Air Traffic Controller. The typical course cost for training to become an air traffic controller is between INR 50,000 and 4L, roughly. These colleges admit students based on the results of entrance exams like the JEE Mains, JEE Advanced, BITSAT, etc. With the expansion of India's market, it is clear that those wanting to work in the aviation industry will always have rewarding careers with numerous opportunities for advancement. An Air Traffic Controller may work in the Air Force, Aviation Industry, Domestic Airports, International Airports, Armed Forces, and other areas. The average starting salary for such positions is usually between INR 4-6 lakhs (approx.)

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During an emergency situation, the air traffic controller plays a major role as they must notify the required authorities and alert emergency response staff as soon as possible. He or she must vigilant and be able to manage different tasks at one time. It  can be very stressful at times due to the responsibility of the safety of aircraft, it’s crew and airline passengers. Air traffic controllers must be able to be focused and concentrate for long periods of times and usually work full-time. Hours and days vary to include shift work, nights, and weekends but the job is a great career choice for people who love multitasking and meeting new people. 

Roles and Responsibilities of an Air Traffic Controller

In order to be an air traffic controller, you must:

  • Maintain radio and radar communication with the aircraft
  • Control the flow of aircraft while they are in transit or at an airport
  • Set the aircraft's final cruising altitude and instruct it to climb or descend
  • Weather conditions should be communicated to aircraft
  • Ensure that minimum separations between planes are maintained
  • Manage unforeseen circumstances, crises, and irruptive traffic

Additionally, if you're an aerodrome controller, you must:

  • Controlling runway movements both on and off
  • Organize the ground transportation of aircraft around the terminals and vehicles throughout the airport

Eligibility to become Air Traffic Controller

Academic qualifications

An Engineering degree in electronics, telecommunication, radio engineering, or electrical is required, as is a master's degree in electronics or any other discipline with electronics, telecom, or radio physics as specialisation subjects, or a master's degree in physics, math, or computer science with a First Class (60% or above).

Aspirants who are planning to become air traffic controller must have a bachelor’s degree (B.Sc in Science) with physics and mathematics as mandatory subjects or B.Tech/B.E. degree in any field can apply for the post of Junior Executive Controller (ATC). The minimum pass percentage to apply for ATC is 60%.

For UG Courses: 

  • Candidate must have a B.Sc in Science or B.Tech/B.E. degree with a minimum aggregate of 60%. However, the minimum aggregate rules vary from category to category
  • Candidates have to appear in the written test, voice test and medical test
  • The age criteria for general category candidates is 27 years whereas for reserved category candidates it is 32 years and for OBC candidates it is 30 years to apply for the ATC

For  PG Courses:

  • Candidate must have a bachelor's degree in the respective field
  • Must have some professional experience in the aviation management industry

Note: CPL holders with a foundational understanding of computers may occasionally be given preference.

Limits on Age: The minimum age requirement is 21, and the maximum age requirement is 27.

Standards for the Physical body

Contrary to popular belief, becoming an ATC does not require having perfect health or vision. However, it is necessary to be physically fit in general. Any illness that might impede normal function must be absent from the person. You must have perfect vision in one eye. It is referred to as 6/6 eyesight in general medical terminology. You might have a 6/9 imperfection in the other eye, which needs to be reversible to a 6/6. However, depending on the state or country, one or more of the conditions listed above may vary to some extent.


    Steps to Become an Air Traffic Controller

    For guide and reference, the steps that must be taken to become an air traffic controller in India are listed below:

    Making a Decision: Students must decide well in advance if they want to pursue a career in aviation. Candidates must assess their readiness for a position that demands their complete attention and has even-numbered shifts.

    Subject Options: The applicant must have engineering-related academic experience in order to be eligible for ATC. Among other things, this might entail having a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, electronics, or telecommunications.

    Entrance Exam: Candidates should take the Civil ATC Test, that is administered by the Civil Aviation Authority, to become an Air Traffic Controller in India. The exam is made up of four papers: Concerned Engineering Branch, for example.

    After Qualifying Exam: After passing both tiers of the examination, candidates are sent for a year of training at the Allahabad Civil Aviation Training College in Uttar Pradesh. This training program provides them with the required training in areas including such air legislation, air traffic services, meteorology, and rescue, among others.

    How to become an Air Traffic Controller?

    In order to become an air traffic controller, one must take the following actions:

    Step 1: To become an ATC, one must submit an application for the civil ATC test that the Civil Aviation Authority periodically administers based on their specifications. The written examination consists of 4 papers, namely:

    • Document from the relevant Engineering Branch
    • Standard English
    • General understanding and
    • Logic/Mathematical Capability

    Step 2: One must pass the following additional tests after passing this preliminary one:

    • Voice Exam
    • Personal Consultation
    • ICA-required medical fitness

    Step 3: Following the Step 2 test, the chosen candidates are sent to the Civil Aviation Training College in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, for a one-year training programme. During this year-long training, the chosen candidates receive instruction in topics such as Air Traffic Services, Aerodromes and Ground Aids, Air Legislation, Meteorology, Communication Procedure, Technical, Search and Rescue, and Air Navigation, among others.

    Step 4: The candidates are hired as Junior Executives (ATC) after successfully completing the training, and after two years they are promoted to Assistant Manager (ATC).


    Courses to Become an Air Traffic Controller

    Pursuing the right course will provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge for becoming an Air Traffic Controller. All candidates who are aiming for a career as an Air Traffic Controller can enrol in any of the courses listed below.


    Average Fee per YearTop Air Engineering Colleges

    B.Tech in Automobile Engineering

    Rs. 40,000 - 1.5 lacs

    B.Tech in Aerospace Engineering

    Rs. 40,000 - 6 lacs
    B.Sc in Physics

    Rs. 15,000 - 50,000

    BSc in Airlines & Airport Management

    Rs. 50,000 - 3.5 lacs

    You can apply to any of these colleges by filling our Common Application Form (CAF).


    Types of Job Roles Air Traffic Controller

    Air Traffic Controller is a restrictive career option as the air traffic controller job profiles are restricted to the aviation sector. Listed below are some of the popular air traffic controller job profiles:

    Air Traffic Controller:  They are responsible for monitoring and directing the movement of the aircraft on the ground/ air by making use of radar, computers and visual references. They also control all ground traffic a the airports

    Approach and Departure Controller: Their job is to give clearance to enter controlled airspace and hand off control of aircraft to en route controllers. They use radar equipment to monitor flight paths and they also provide pilots with information regarding weather and other critical notices.

    Tower Controller: They direct the movement of vehicles on runway, taxiways, check flight plans and also clearance to the pilots during takeoff or landing.

    En Route Controller:  Their job role is to monitor the aircraft once it leaves the airports space. They work at air route traffic control centres located throughout the country, they are usually not located at the airports.


    Employment Opportunities for Air Traffic Controllers

    Some of the popular employment opportunities for air traffic controllers are listed below:

    • Aviation Industry
    • Air Force Industry
    • Armed Forces
    • Domestic Airports
    • International Airports


    Top Recruiting Companies for Air Traffic Controllers:

    The companies that recruit air traffic controllers are as follows:

    • Bengaluru International Airport
    • Octamec Group
    • Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Limited
    • Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
    • Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport
    • Air Works


    Employment Sector/Industry for Air Traffic Controller

    • Aircraft are guided by air traffic controllers for safe takeoff, landing, and en route navigation. They help with planes entering and leaving Indian airspace in addition to flights landing and taking off from Indian airports
    • The organisation of air traffic in the airspace and all along the predetermined routes for arrival and departure at and from airports around the world is planned by air traffic controllers
    • Additionally, ATC towers visually observe and use radar to track all ground movements of aircraft, including landings and takeoffs, handling approach control monitors for approaching as well as departing traffic, and en-route control
    • They support Pilots for all maneuvers up until the end of the flight, both in the air and on the ground


    Required Skills to Become Air Traffic Controller 

    • An interest in the aviation sector, good spatial orientation, a good memory, the ability to think quickly, and the capacity to make quick decisions are all desirable traits for air traffic controllers
    • Additionally, they are able to multitask, are at ease with numbers, enjoy working in a team, can work shifts, and are assertive and confident
    • They should be capable of handling stress, remain composed under duress, be adaptable and service-oriented
    • It is recommended that air traffic controllers have excellent hearing, vision, and overall health
    • An Air Traffic Controller must undergo extensive training and bear additional responsibility for the safety of hundreds of people. For this, a person must be extremely self-assured, patient, responsible, and disciplined
    • The job demands a lot of effort, stamina, mental alertness, flexibility to follow demanding time schedules, and good teamwork. Even though there are many other subordinate staff members, an ATC is one of the most crucial individuals on an aerodrome because he never has the opportunity to correct a mistake he makes while performing his duties, whereas others can get away with a few


    Planning to choose Air Traffic Controller as your career?

    Pay Scale/Salary of Air Traffic Controller

    The salary of an air traffic controller increases with time as they complete their successive levels of training and experience in the same. The salary of an air traffic controller depends upon various factors which include on-the-job training, location. Given below is the salary range for the air traffic controllers and other related job roles:

    Job Profile Starting Salary per annum (in INR)Mid- Level Salary per annum (in INR)Senior-Level Salary per annum (in INR)
    Air Traffic ControllerRs 4,00,000- Rs 6,00,000Rs. 6,00,000- Rs.9,00,000Rs.9,00,000 and above
    Approach and Departure ControllerRs 3,00,000- Rs. 4,50,000Rs. 5,00,000- Rs 7,00,000Rs.7,00,000 and above 
    En Route Controller:Rs 3,00,000- Rs.4,00,000Rs.4,00,000- Rs.6,00,000NA

    Note* -The above figures are an estimate and may vary from individual to individual and company to company.


    Benefits of Career as an Air Traffic Controller 

    The profession of an Air Traffic Controller undoubtedly has certain advantages that entice applicants to apply for the position. These advantages are listed below for your convenience.

    Salary: Initially, candidates selected as Air Traffic Controllers are paid approximately INR 4-6 lacs per year. This increases as one's work experience and expertise grow.

    Job Security: The position of Air Traffic Controller is held by the country's aviation department, The Airport Authority of India, which is a government organisation. Because this is a government organisation, candidates can be confident in their job security as long as they carry out their work with sincerity and focus.

    Positive Impact: A career in aviation is undoubtedly full of positive experiences because you get to interact with a variety of people every day and an ATC's job frequently involves travel. Being an air traffic controller gives you access to a very enjoyable work environment that not many other professions offer.


    Career Path for Air Traffic Controller 

    Higher Education: The majority of students choose to pursue a career as an airline commercial pilot, a profession that involves guiding planes, helicopters, and other aircraft.

    Start Job: A student's career as an air traffic controller can begin at any airport in the world. At the beginning of their careers, they receive a respectable salary, but they can anticipate growth as they gain knowledge and experience.

    With experience, air traffic controllers may be transferred to bigger, busier airports. Additionally, there might be a chance to advance to the manager level and work as a watch or unit manager or group supervisor. You would be overseeing the work of other controllers in these positions. Moving into training positions, such as working in a college or assessment unit training and evaluating new recruits, or serving as a mentor to a new recruit on the job, may also be an option. As the training required is expensive and tailored specifically to the role, there is little progression between the various air traffic control disciplines. As a result, controllers frequently stick with the field in which they received their initial training.

    In addition to this, many European Union nations offer the opportunity to work in air traffic control. Although English is the primary language used globally in air traffic control, knowing the native tongue of the nation where you want to work may be advantageous.



    Books & Study Material to Become Air Traffic Controller

    To make an air traffic controller you must have an aptitude for physics and mathematics and your base in both the subjects should be very strong. Aspirants should study both textual and non-textual books to apply for the post of Junior Executive Controller (ATC). The written exam comprises of questions from current affairs, English grammar, physics and mathematics. Therefore, it is very important to have a hold of the best books and study material for the preparation. Listed below are some of the popular books that will help you build a career in the field of air traffic controller:

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


    Pros of becoming a Air Traffic Controller

    • The career of an air traffic controller is highly rewarding and a certified controller enjoys a lot of perks.
    • It offers one with great job satisfaction as you get challenging situations which help you utilise your problem-solving skills.
    • The job of an air traffic controller provides you with an interesting environment to work in which is not offered by a lot of professions and it is very enjoyable.


    Cons of becoming a Air Traffic Controller

    • The profession is very demanding in terms of shift which can be very stressful at times.
    • You tend to miss social events and festivals due to shifts.
    • The job holds a lot of pressure as you responsible for other people’s lives, therefore it requires you to be alert and vigilant all the time.


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