Air Traffic Controller

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Air traffic controllers ensure that aircraft fly safely and efficiently through UK airspace. They guide and advise pilots at take-off, during the flight, as they approach the airport and when they land. They are sometimes called air traffic control officers (ATCOs).

The Work

You could be:

You could work as one of three types of air traffic controller:


The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:

Trainees on the NATS training scheme earn £13,154.40 (with benefits) a year while attending college and receive a weekly accommodation payment of £60. While on practical training in an operational unit the salary is between £17,066 and £20,479 a year.

After training, your salary rises to between £32,522 and £36,247. On appointment as a fully qualified ATCO (after the third anniversary of passing the training), you will be paid between £46,461 and £51,781, plus shift pay of £5,543. Experienced ATCOs at certain units can earn from £100,000 a year. (These figures are based on 2012 rates, which are the most current on the NATS website).


Employment Status UK %

Past Unemployment

Year Unemployed

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Getting In

Predicted Employment in Scotland

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What Does it Take?

You need to be:

You need to have:


Getting On

More Information


The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Civil Aviation Authority
Tel: 020 7453 6040
Twitter: @UK_CAA

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) Ltd
Tel: 01489 616001
Website (2):
Twitter: @NATS

Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS)
Tel: 020 7670 4326
Website (2):
Twitter: @AeroSociety

The Royal Aeronautical Society has a website called Careers in Aerospace which provides a wide range of information on careers in the aeronautical industry.

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