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Career spotlight

Air traffic controllers

Average National Salaries (2020)

Age 20

£43,680 pile of coins

Age 35

£87,880 pile of coins

Age 50

£104,000 pile of coins
Average salary in the East Midlands: £79,040

What does this career do?

Air traffic controllers prepare flight plans, authorise flight departures and arrivals and maintain radio, radar and/or visual contact with aircraft to ensure the safe movement of air traffic.

Typical tasks

  • maintains radio and/or radar or visual contact with aircraft and liaises with other air traffic controllers and control centres to direct aircraft in and out of controlled airspace and into holding areas ready for landing
  • directs the movement of aircraft en route to its destination and ensures minimum distances are maintained between planes
  • gives landing instructions to pilot and monitors descent of aircraft
  • directs movement of aircraft and motor vehicles on runways, taxiways and in parking bays
  • obtains information regarding weather conditions, navigational hazards, landing conditions, seating arrangements, loading of cargo, fuel and catering supplies
  • calculates fuel consumption and optimum flying height, plans route and prepares flight plan for aircraft pilot
  • discusses operational requirements with pilot, issues duty schedules for flight deck and cabin crews, maintains records of flight progress and authorises flight departure
  • handles emergencies, unscheduled traffic and other unanticipated incidents.

Current entry requirements

Entrants require GCSEs/S grades and A levels/H grades, a BTEC/SQA award or an Advanced GNVQ/GSVQ Level III. Academic requirements may be lowered for those with relevant aviation experience. Whilst entrants may begin training towards obtaining a licence earlier than 18 years of age, they may not apply for a Student Licence before 18 years. A full air traffic controller licence can only be issued to individuals of at least 21 years of age. Candidates must have good eyesight and no hearing or speech defects. Entrants are required to undergo a medical examination. Training lasts 74 weeks and consists of courses of study followed by supervised practical experience leading to the award of a Civil Aviation Authority licence.

Percentage in work

  • Employed

  • Unemployed


Due to insufficient sample sizes, some data was excised.

Predicted employment status in 2022

  • Full-time

Predicted employment levels in the East Midlands

Career related courses available at West Notts

About the statistics

Data is powered by LMI for All and is sourced from labour market statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Institute for Employment Research, the Department for Works and Pensions, and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

Next steps

To ask us a question about this career or find out about our courses or apprenticeship opportunities please use the below form or give us a call.

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0808 100 3626

For more information on careers please visit our

Information, advice and guidance website

Why choose West Notts?

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96.2% A Level pass rate in 2022.

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One of the top colleges in the UK for student satisfaction.**Learner Exit Survey 2019/20

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