Skills Needed To Become An Air Traffic Controller

If you want to be an air traffic controller (ATC), you must be aware that performing the role requires special skills. This job is so unique that it requires a special set of core skills. Anyhow, most of the skills can be learned more so since the learning materials of air traffic control school are geared toward learning and applying the skills, so there is no reason for you not to consider being an ATC as your future career.


Even the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) in the UK and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US require core skills before you may become a fully certified air traffic control specialist.

The EuroControl, which is the air navigation safety organization, provides a computer-aided assessment for NATS called the FEAST. FEAST stands for First European Air Traffic Controller Selection Test hence it tests the basic skills of the applicant required to perform the ATC role more effectively.

The FAA, further, requires the applicant to pass the ATSAT (Air Traffic Skills and Training). Also a computer-assisted test, ATSAT requires a passing score of 70 or higher.

The contents of both FEAST and ATSAT will gauge the most important qualities of the future air traffic controller. You will not qualify in any air traffic controller jobs if you do not possess these qualities that can be initially determined through the tests.

1) Communication skill

The pilot will contact the controllers for instructions and advices. The controllers, on the other hand, must be able to listen carefully to what the pilot is asking or requesting. He or she must respond to the query or request through speaking clearly.

2) Concentration skill

Depending on the number of controllers in the tower or control center, he or she must remain focused on a particular conversation especially when there are multiple conversations occurring simultaneously.

3) Decision making skill

Everything happens in real time, so the controllers should be able to decide quickly yet accurately otherwise the aircraft will experience unnecessary turbulences. These can be avoided if the controller will respond at the quickest possible time.

4) Problem solving skill

A staple of the work environment are complex situations including changing weathers. A controller must know how to review critical information to provide any pilot with the most appropriate solution.

5) Multitasking skill

The controllers should be knowledgeable in coordinating the actions and movements of several flights especially during complex situations like turbulent weather.

When applying for an ATC job, other than the skills noted above, there are other air traffic controller requirements needed. An ATC must:

  • Possess excellent spatial orientation,
  • Possess excellent memory,
  • Be assertive and forward thinker,
  • Be numerically proficient,
  • Be highly adaptable,
  • Be stress resistant,
  • Be service-oriented
  • Be calm under pressure, and
  • Be a team player.

The only thing that you need to do now is to psyche yourself if you have all these necessary skills or that if you have the willingness to learn them. If you think you are perfect for the job, the necessary next thing is to know how to become an air traffic controller.

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