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Air Traffic Controller

Job Zone

Most of these occupations require qualifications at NFQ Levels 7 or 8 (Ordinary / Honours Degrees) but some do not.

Related Experience
A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, you may need to complete three - four years of college and work for several years in the career area to be considered qualified.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Job Zone Examples
Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, computer programmers, chemists, environmental engineers, criminal investigators, and financial analysts.

€16k > 60
Air Traffic Controller
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€16 - 60
Related Information:
Air Traffic Controller (Trainee): 16k+
Air Traffic Controller: 60
Data Source(s):

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.
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At a Glance... header image

Is the traffic warden of the skies, responsible for co-ordinating and directing aircraft along flight paths.

Videos & Interviews header image

Follow the links below to watch videos related to this occupation:

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Go..Air Traffic Controller - from: YouTube Video
Go..Air Traffic Controller - from: Irish Aviation Authority [YouTube Video]
Go..Integrated Operations Centre - from: Aer Lingus [Video]

Go..Search YouTube for Air Traffic Controller videos

The Work header image

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.

Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation


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.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.


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.


Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings: Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.


Getting Information: Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.


Processing Information: Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.


Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards: Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.


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.


Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge: Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.


Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates: Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.


Transportation: Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.


Public Safety and Security: Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.


Geography: Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.


Education and Training: Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.


Customer and Personal Service: Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.


Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.


Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.


Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.


Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.


Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.


Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.


Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.


Active Learning: Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.


Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

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 Routesheader image

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.

See IAA for full details.

Last Updated: December, 2015

Further Informationheader image

A detailed description of this occupation can be found on a number of online databases. Follow the link(s) below to access this information:

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Go..Air Traffic Controller - from: N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Air Traffic Controller - from: GradIreland

Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image


Organisation: Irish Aviation Authority
Address: Training Centre, Ballycasey, Shannon, Co. Clare
Tel: (061) 366000
Email: Click here
Url Click here


Organisation: Dublin Airport Authority
Address: Head Office, Dublin Airport, Co Dublin
Tel: (01) 814 1111
Email: Click here
Url Click here

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Career Guidance

This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...

...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:

Transport & Logistics

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