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Air Traffic Controller

by Staff Reporter
If you have an interest in aviation, can multi-task and have a mind that enjoys problem-solving, a career as an Air Traffic Controller could be for you.

Career Overview

Air Traffic Controllers, also known as ATC, are the people responsible for preventing accidents from taking place in the skies. They are the individuals who guide the pilots to safely land and take off. 

The job is truly demanding and involves executing excellent readings of weather patterns and efficiently communicating with the pilots and other ATC’s to identifying whether it is safe for the pilots to take off/land or to direct pilots through the completion of their flight journeys. ATC’s work very closely with the pilots and help guide the pilots through bad weather and maintaining safe distances between other aircrafts, both in sky and on the ground.

Required School Subjects

You will need to have adequately completed the following subjects at high school:

  • English
  • Pure Mathematics

Recommended subjects:

  • Geography

Institution and APS

There is no APS required for an air traffic controller course, however a Level 4 or higher in Pure Mathematics and English is required.

The following institution is highly recommended:

  • Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) Aviation Training Academy

Required Qualification/s

A diploma is the minimum required form of qualification and this will allow individuals to apply for Air Traffic Controller assistant vacancies and then work their way up the corporate ladder.

Required Skills

The following are key skills for Air Traffic Controllers:

  • Be responsible
  • Be able to work well under pressure
  • Excellent physical and mental health
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Team worker
  • Listening skills
  • Assertiveness

Where you can work

As an Air Traffic Controller, you can work in the following industries:

  • Government: SA Air Force
  • Government: Department of Transport
  • Private Sector: Airlines in South Africa or international airlines

Working Hours

Currently, ATCs work between a minimum of 4 hours to a maximum of 10 hours a day. Most ATCs work 7-8 hour shifts, with breaks for every 4 hours worked. Due to the intensity of the job, ATCs must have a minimum of 12 hours between shifts and they don’t work more than 7 days in a row.

Expected Salary

The salary for an Air Traffic Controller in South Africa is estimated to range between R99 387 to R621 894 per annum, with the average being R258 033. Experience and work performance form as factors that contribute to increasing the salary numbers for this career.

What to expect

The following are some of the things one can expect in this career:

  • The job can get stressful; it is imperative to have and maintain physical and mental health.
  • Applying analytical and problem-solving skills every day. South Africa is one of the few countries that rarely experiences aircraft accidents and that is a huge comfort knowing that you’ll be learning the best from the best.
  • Working in a fast-paced environment is going to become second nature with this job.
  • Being a team player is important for the success of, not only the individual employees but, the company as a whole.
  • Relocation is a high possibility – in most cases, the assigned destination could be quite far away from home.
  • Continued learning comes standard with the job.

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