NATS launches search for next generation of Air Traffic Controllers

18 June 2024

The air traffic service provider, NATS has today announced the launch of a nationwide recruitment campaign to identify and train the next generation of air traffic controllers.

This exciting opportunity offers individuals the chance to play a vital role in ensuring the safety and efficiency of the 2.5 million flights that fly through UK airspace each year.

Claire Burton, Head of Operational Excellence and Transformation at NATS, said: “We are thrilled to be reopening applications for our Trainee Air Traffic Controller programme again this year. Air traffic controllers are the foundation of the aviation industry and with travel booming again, there’s never been a better time to join our teams across the country for what is a hugely fulfilling and rewarding career.”

Candidates don’t need any specific qualifications beyond five GCSEs at Grade 4 or Scottish National 5’s Grade A-C, including English and Maths. According to NATS, being successful is much more about aptitude, with teamwork, good situational awareness and adaptability all cited as important qualities.

Successful candidates will go through around 12 months of initial simulator and theory-based training, before being posted to an airport tower or a NATS control centre at either Swanwick, Hampshire or Prestwick, Ayrshire. Once there, students receive on the job training towards becoming fully fledged controllers, working as part of a team to keep the skies safe every day.

Trainee controllers receive a salary of £21,330, with some fully valid controllers working in the busiest operations eventually earning more than £100,000. Air traffic control training is now also an accredited apprenticeship scheme, with some trainees able to work towards an L5 recognised apprenticeship qualification. And for the first time, NATS is offering a bursary fund to support applicants from lower income backgrounds or with carer responsibilities, with money available to go towards travel and medical costs.

These changes are all in aid of encouraging applications from a more diverse range of people, especially women and those from ethnic minority communities. Claire continues: “Great controllers come from all walks of life and all backgrounds and while we have many outstanding women controllers, they constitute only about 30% of the workforce. We want to attract talent from the broadest possible pool, and I’d really encourage anyone who’s keen to go for it. It really is a fantastic career.”

NATS currently has around 1,600 controllers whose job is to safely manage the flow of aircraft through the UK’s busy and complex airspace, as well as at 15 of the country’s busiest airports.

Visit to apply and for more information.

News story tags

  • Home
  • News
  • NATS launches search for next generation of Air Traffic Controllers

UK Flights

Departed today
Landed today
Currently airborne
Handled yesterday

Please start typing and we will search our website for you.

Search Results