In Summary - Air Traffic Controller
Air Traffic Controllers typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Air Traffic Controller
Air traffic controllers are responsible for the efficient flow of air traffic ensuring that all planes are a safe distance apart. To enable them to do this they work with complex radar and computer systems. They make calculations, check flight paths and issue directions and instructions to pilots. They have to take into account weather variations, aircraft needing emergency help and other unexpected events.
They may be controllers in constant contact with all pilots in a particular airspace.
Some work as approach controllers. They take over contact with pilots who are coming into land. Or an aerodrome controller who guides the aircraft to a parking stand once it has landed.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Issue landing and take-off authorizations or instructions.
- Monitor or direct the movement of aircraft within an assigned air space or on the ground at airports to minimize delays and maximize safety.
- Monitor aircraft within a specific airspace, using radar, computer equipment, or visual references.
- Inform pilots about nearby planes or potentially hazardous conditions, such as weather, speed and direction of wind, or visibility problems.
- Provide flight path changes or directions to emergency landing fields for pilots traveling in bad weather or in emergency situations.
- Alert airport emergency services in cases of emergency or when aircraft are experiencing difficulties.
- Direct pilots to runways when space is available or direct them to maintain a traffic pattern until there is space for them to land.
- Transfer control of departing flights to traffic control centers and accept control of arriving flights.
- Direct ground traffic, including taxiing aircraft, maintenance or baggage vehicles, or airport workers.
- Determine the timing or procedures for flight vector changes.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Interests - Air Traffic Controller
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
Air traffic controllers must be capable and confident of a high degree of accuracy. You must be able to cope with a pressurised environment and be able to assume a high level of responsibility. Good IT skills are essential. You have to maintain a good level of physical fitness. You need full colour vision.
Entry Requirements - Air Traffic Controller
Candidates are recruited through interview, computer based aptitude tests and a medical for training with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).
You must be 21 years of age to be a licensed Air Traffic Controller and because the training takes up to 2 years an applicant must be at least 19 years of age when applying for the Student Controller Programme. There is no upper age limit.
Applicants must have passed at least five subjects in the Leaving Certificate (including English and Mathematics) with Grade C in at least two higher level papers. An equivalent qualification may also be acceptable.
Vacancies are advertised throughout the year on the IAA website and on occasion, advertised in the national media.
To apply to become a Student Air Traffic Controller you must complete an online application form. The Authority will review all online applications approximately twice per annum and eligible applicants will be invited to commence the selection process.
Currently the Recruitment Process of Student Air Traffic Controllers has 4 Stages. Stages 2-4 of the process will take place in a Dublin based location. Applicants will be required to pass each stage of the Selection Process in order to proceed to the next stage.
Training lasts about two years and is free. Once qualified you will work in either Shannon, Dublin or Cork and must serve four years to repay your training costs.
You are required to pass a medical test before entry and will have to pass a medical examination every two years before the age of forty and every year after that.
Last Updated: December, 2015
Pay & Salary - Air Traffic Controller
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 16k - 60k
Air Traffic Controller (Trainee): 16k+
Air Traffic Controller: 60
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.