How to Become a Freelance Air Traffic Controller

How to Become a Freelance Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controllers are really hard working individuals who work under extreme pressure because of the stakes involved. These individuals must be able to make the right decisions at the right moment; they must think rationally and solve problems and whatnot.

The job responsibilities of an air traffic controller are immensely important in the aviation industry, and these responsibilities contribute to the rise in the number of air traffic controllers across the world. To put it simply, even with machines, aviation traffic cannot be adequately monitored without human intervention, and this human intervention we have just mentioned is no one else but air traffic controller.If you wish to become a professional air traffic controller but are clueless as to from where, to begin with, then this article will help you out by giving a simple answer: freelance.

Freelancing is a smart way of establishing one’s career in a profession and making oneself financially independent. The freelance industry is thriving and is presently part of the most competitive professional communities in the world. So, one can have access to numerous work opportunities by way of freelancing.

Fancy it may sound, freelancing is not that simple nowadays. Competition is cut-throat, and to survive it, you will have to show more than just willingness and determination. In this article, we shall discuss the factors which play a key role in the making of a smart, knowledgeable and well-established freelance air traffic controller.

Here are four points to become a freelance air traffic controller:

1. Job requirements to become a freelance air traffic controller

The job of an air traffic controller is technical and involves extensive knowledge on the part of the individual. There is a constant play of education and experience in the field of air traffic control, and therefore, you must keep in mind the job requirements mentioned under this head.

  • The elementary educational requirement to become an air traffic controller is an engineering degree in the field of Electronics, Tele Communication, Radio Engineering, or Electrical. You may either start working soon after completion of B.Tech or may go on to obtain Master’s and then a D.
  • Top aeronautical institutes in the country include Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; VSM Aerospace Chelekere Village, Bangalore; Indian Institute of Aeronautical Engineering, Dehradun, Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, etc.
  • If you wish to study abroad, then you may opt for any of the following mentioned schools: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, University of Colorado, etc.
  • After having fulfilled the basic educational requirement, it is time to sit for the AAI ATC (Airport Authority of India ATC) entrance examination, which places the lower age limit of 21 and upper age limit of 27 years. The examination comprises a written test, a voice test, a personal interview and medical fitness examination.
  • If pass through the examination, you are sent off to training at various civil aviation training institutes in Allahabad and Hyderabad. The training lasts for a year and covers subject-matters such Air Traffic Services, Air Legislation, Aerodromes and Ground Aids, Air Navigation, Communication procedures, Meteorology, and Search and Rescue.
  • You get a stipend during training and are provided free boarding and lodging services by the Airport Authority of India.
  • Once you have successfully completed training, you kick start as Junior Executive (ATC) and will eventually be promoted to higher positions depending on performance, policies, and others.

2. Skills needed to become a freelance air traffic controller

There is involvement of a volume of skills in the making of an air traffic controller, and thus, you will have pay attention to the skills mentioned below since skills are the first and foremost things an employer look up on the resume or portfolio of skills.

  • Communication Skills: The pilot will be in steady contact with the air traffic controllers for the purpose of advice and instructions. This makes it important on the part of the controller to sustain the communication channel with the pilot. You should be able to listen to the pilot attentively and respond to the query nearly immediately and in a clear, legible and rational manner.
  • Concentration skill: You are required to remain concentrated throughout the working hours. You should be able to notice discrepancies or legs quickly and inform the higher-ups forthwith.
  • Decision-making: As mentioned above, a lot of people’s lives are at stake, and therefore, it is important that air traffic controller is able to make rational choices, especially at the time of emergency. This skill develops with time and requires much effort from the side of the controller.
  • Problem-solving skill: You will work in a complex environment which may give rise to unforeseeable problems. For example, when the weather conditions over a particular region suddenly become turbulent, the controller must be quick in coming up with the most workable solution.
  • Multitasking: The air traffic controllers have to coordinate the movements and actions of several flights, particularly during situations such as turbulent weather. You should be able to multitask but not at the cost of efficiency. Both, multitasking and efficiency—must go hand-in-hand.

3. Work opportunities for freelance air traffic controllers

It is to be noted that the Airport Authority of India (AAI) is the only employer of the air traffic controllers in the country. There are small players as well such as HAL which operate private airports and recruit controllers from the AAI staff. You will have to keep a tab on the notifications released by the AAI and entities such as HAL.

For better access to work opportunities, freelance websites such as,, and can be of a lot of help. All that is needed is the creation of an account and submission of applications.

4. Pay scale of a freelance air traffic controller

The amount of pay received will vary considerably on the basis of qualifications, place of job, experience, etc. As a fresh freelance air traffic controller, you will usually get pay between Rs. 16,000 and Rs. 40,000; but as you gain experience, you will earn Rs. 50,000 and beyond.

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