A career as an air traffic controller plays a significant role in the aviation sector. They play a major role in ensuring that planes operate safely and efficiently across the airspace. Air traffic controllers oversee an aircraft’s entire flight while it is in controlled airspace. They operate in a fast-paced environment that can be both demanding and rewarding.


In your career as an air traffic controller, you will educate and advise pilots using extremely advanced radar and radio communication technology. You will be responsible for controlling the plane as it flies, utilising radar to detect its exact location, maintain its safety in the air and find the most efficient path. Additionally, these professionals are in charge of organising air traffic movement and guiding pilots during takeoff and landing.


Starting a career as an air traffic controller will allow you to have a high earning potential and job stability. However, this career requires tremendous skills which would enable you to respond to emergencies and make split-second decisions as the job entails.

I will discuss the steps required to start a career as an air traffic controller and give details about this career path.


Steps to Becoming an Air Traffic Controller

  1. Obtain an O’level Certificate

    You need an O’level certificate to apply to degree programs when pursuing your career as an air traffic controller. Additionally, you need to have a strong foundation in Mathematics, English and science subjects. Therefore, you should ensure that you have a minimum of credits in your O’level results.

  2. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree (Optional)

    This is not compulsory to do. However, you can get a higher advantage with a bachelor’s degree. You can obtain a bachelor’s degree in aviation management, aeronautical engineering or a related field.

  3. Build Relevant Skills

    A career as an air traffic controller is a technical career and requires one to be meticulous in carrying out a task. You need to develop the required skills needed to function effectively in this job. You should develop skills such as communication, critical thinking, mathematics, attention to detail and sound judgment.

  4. Apply for an Airspace Training Program

    The application and selection procedure is demanding with multiple stages. After the application process, you need to take a screening test to test your cognitive skills and problem-solving skills. After, that you will be called for an interview if you pass the test. After the interview, you will undergo a comprehensive medical assessment to verify if you meet the health requirements.

  5. Complete the Training Program

    You will admitted into the training program if you pass the application and selection phase. This usually lasts for about a year or more. The training covers areas such as aviation weather, navigation aids and air traffic control procedures.

  6. Gain Experience

    You will be assigned to various airports after training. You will undergo hands-on training before you can be qualified to be an air traffic controller.

  7. Obtain a Certification

    You must be certified by an aviation body. You can obtain certification by passing an examination, or a practical test and gaining the necessary experience. The training that leads to the final certification normally takes two to four years to complete.


Skills to have as an Air Traffic Controller


  1. Excellent levels of concentration and the capacity for sustained attention
  2. Ability to function effectively under pressure
  3. Determination and Diligence
  4. Geographic Consciousness
  5. Communication Skills
  6. Numeracy Skills
  7. Emotional Stability
  8. Adaptation
  9. Ability to act promptly in emergencies
  10. Ability to process information


Types of Air Traffic Controllers

  1. Tower Controllers: These professionals are in charge of the runways and air traffic within 30 miles of an airport. Therefore, they work in the towers at the airport.
  2. Radar Approach Controllers: These controllers advise pilots entering and departing from the area approximately 20-50 miles away from the airport. They transfer traffic between tower operators and en-route controlling experts.
  3. En Route Controllers: These experts monitor flights that are taken from locations far from airports across the nation.
  4. Aerodrome Flight Information Service Officer: Generally, they are responsible for giving pilots the information they need for a flight to operate safely in the airport’s movement area. Additionally, they offer crucial data required for flights such as weather conditions and runway information.
  5. Electronic Flight Strip System Operator: They oversee computerised flight strips that control vital details such as the identity, clearance and path of the aircraft. Furthermore, they oversee the exchange of information between controllers and pilots.


Air Traffic Controller Schools in Africa

  1. Egypt Aviation Academy, Egypt
  2. Nigeria College of Aviation Technology Zaria, Nigeria
  3. Zambia Air Services Training Institute, Zambia
  4. Watanya Air, Egypt
  5. 43 Air School, South Africa


In general, air traffic controllers are essential to ensuring a country’s air transport is both safe and effective. Pursuing a career as an air traffic controller requires you to meet stringent training and certification criteria for the position, which demands a high degree of expertise and dedication. This career is going to be in high demand even in the future because of the increasing popularity of air transport.


Good luck!

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