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Air Traffic Control Officer

currently open

The facts

Job description

You’ll ensure that all our aircraft depart and arrive safely and clear the skies for civilian aircraft.



Pay after training


Joining age

17.5 - 36

Similar civilian jobs

  • Air traffic control manager
  • Airline manager
  • Transport planning and logistics manager

Usual service

9 years


Citizen of the UK or the Republic of Ireland, or a Commonwealth citizen since birth

Open to

male or female

Qualifications you need

2 A-levels (at grade A-C) or 3 Highers or equivalent, plus 5 GCSE/SCEs at Grade C/2 minimum or equivalent including English Language and a grade B/1 in Maths or 5 SNEs at Grade 5 including English Language and Maths. Please note: the RAF does not accept A-levels in Critical Thinking or General Studies at any grade.

Qualifications you can gain

 Professional air traffic control qualifications


Whether or not you were born in the United Kingdom, you should have resided there for the five years immediately preceding your application.

The job

Air Traffic Control Officers ensure that all our aircraft depart and arrive safely, and air bases are fully maintained and prepared for emergencies.

They also liaise with civilian air authorities to ensure safe travel for any aircraft using their airspace. It’s a position of huge responsibility.

Air Traffic Control Officers work in a high-pressure environment where safety is paramount. You’ll learn how to manage people and use some of the world’s most modern radar and communications equipment.

By your early twenties you could be an Air Traffic Control Supervisor, a local Examining Officer, or even an instructor at the Central Air Traffic Control School. As you develop your management skills, you’ll move on to face new challenges and promotion opportunities – both in the UK and overseas.

I do this job

Air Traffic Control Officer

Emma Coupar
Air Traffic Control Officer

‘The job varies from day to day. It’s never ever the same… you expect the unexpected.’

My role

‘Air Traffic Control Officers can be sent anywhere, which is one of the attractions of the job for me. You also have variety – fast jets, multi-engine aircraft, helicopters – you’re constantly controlling a variety of aircraft. In civilian air traffic it’s all planned and timed, but we get multiple approaches and you never know from day to day who’s going to fly in or from where.’

My day

‘I work in the air traffic control tower. Working as a team is really important and everybody relies on one another. You also need to be able to absorb a lot of information and be flexible enough to keep updating and changing your plans as situations develop.’

My experiences

‘In Cyprus we tend to work morning or afternoon shifts, with plenty of time off to relax. Water sports are very popular here and I particularly enjoy jet-skiing. I’m also on the Akrotiri and RAF Cyprus netball teams and I go horse riding too.’

My life

‘In the RAF, great opportunities can come along and you’ve just got to grab them. Yesterday I went to Jordan in a Hercules. We landed in the desert to pick up personnel on an exercise out there, and then we turned round and came back. That’s what it’s all about – you’ve got to make the most of your opportunities.’


Initial Officer Training

Like all our officers, you’ll begin your RAF career with Initial Officer Training (IOT) at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire

You’ll follow a challenging 30 week course designed to develop your leadership and management skills.

The course includes fitness development, military training and academic study as well as practical outdoor leadership challenges.

Specialist Training

After Initial Officer Training, you will complete specialist Air Traffic Control training which includes: aerodrome control, radar approach and directing, precision approach radar, navigation, meteorology, and airspace management.

Ongoing Development

You will conduct additional training to develop your professional skills during each tour of duty and complete a further 6-week course in Area Radar Control before working at a joint Air Traffic Control Centre.

You will also have the opportunity to undertake additional leadership and management training.  

Your future

Career prospects

You’ll join the RAF on either a Short Service Commission of up to nine years, or on a Permanent Commission that will normally require a minimum of 18 years service.

Promotion to the rank of flight lieutenant is on a time served/satisfactory service basis.

Further promotion to squadron leader and above is by competitive selection.

Transferable skills

As an Air Traffic Control Officer in the RAF you will have many of the opportunities and career prospects of your civilian counterparts with the chance to work around the world and gain a unique experience of Air Traffic Control.

Apply now

Call us on

0845 605 5555

  • Mon-Fri8am to 8pm
  • Sat9am to 6pm
  • Sun10am to 4pm
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