Air Traffic Control Officer

Service:Fleet Air Arm
Air Traffic Controller

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

It’s not just the air space directly above you that you’ll be responsible for. You’ll control the flow of air traffic for a 30-mile radius. Given this could be anywhere in the world depending on where your missions take you – with civilian and private traffic, extreme weather and potential conflict to consider – you’ll need to be completely on the ball. Whether you’re in the middle of the ocean on board an aircraft carrier like the new Queen Elizabeth, or on shore at a Royal Naval Air Station, the lives of your crewmates will be in your hands. 

If you have questions, talk to us

Your role

  • Monitor the airwaves and make sure each and every one of the helicopters and jets under your watch lands safely. 
  • Use your knowledge of our world-class kit, and understanding of your environment, to give clear instructions to pilots and crew.
  • Operate sophisticated radar and communication systems, and collaborate with everyone in your team.
  • Use your world-class communication skills to ensure the safety of your crew. 

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Study for GCSEs, A-Levels, NVQs or even a degree, with funding from us
  • Gain specialist vocational qualifications
  • Gain a Foundation Degree in Airspace Management on completion of professional training

Skills you'll develop

  • How to use state-of-the-art equipment to monitor your airspace and keep it safe 
  • The art of effective communication and decision-making in high-pressure situations 

What you'll need


  • You must be aged 18 to 34
  • You’ll need a minimum of 72 UCAS points. These can be accrued from either GCE A/AS levels (or equivalent) or National Diplomas (e.g., BTEC)
  • You’ll need at least 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C (9-4) (or Scottish equivalent), which must include English and Mathematics
  • A British/British Dual National who has lived in the UK continuously for the 5 years prior to applying
  • Minimum height of 151.5cm
  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 and 28 (between 17 and 27 if under 18)
  • Must pass CBAT. Specialist Aviation Medical at OASC, RAF Cranwell post AIB.
  • Pass the Naval Swimming Test

Skills and interests

  • Able to thrive on responsibility
  • A confident leader
  • A passion for working as part of a team
  • Calm under pressure
  • Able to concentrate for long periods of time
Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, the joining process is as follows:

  • Submit an application

    Once you’ve registered your interest, we’ll be in touch to discuss your options

  • Defence Aptitude Assessment (DAA)

    You’ll be tested on: Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning, Work Rate, Spatial Reasoning, Electrical Comprehension and Mechanical Comprehension.
    To prepare, you can practise the DAA

  • Interview

    A formal interview to talk through your suitability for the role

  • Medical and eye tests

    These are quite comprehensive and must be completed by one of our Ministry of Defence-approved doctors

  • Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT)

    This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you

  • Interview

    You’ll have a short interview to assess your suitability for a career in the Royal Navy, and to ensure you’re ready for the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB)

  • Admiralty Interview Board (AIB)

    This stage is unique to officers and takes place in two parts. A Pre Recorded Interview (PRI) is an online assessment which assesses your motivation to join the Royal Navy as an officer and your awareness of the Royal Navy. The Group Planning Exercise (GPE) is the second stage of the AIB and is an online competency based assessment which will take place on a separate day to the PRI. It will be conducted in a virtual group environment and you will be assessed on your contribution to the team based on your individual performance.

Initial training

Before you begin your initial training, you’ll need to take Flying Aptitude Tests (FATs) at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire. These assess your ability to cope with the rigours of flying training. You’ll then progress to Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth, where you’ll spend 30 weeks, focusing on: military skills, maritime skills and initial fleet time. The military skills phase includes learning about leadership and teamwork, and the principles of command and management. You will put this into practice during several exercises on Dartmoor.

There's also a swimming test, so if you can't swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.

Professional training

After you’ve passed out of BRNC, you will spend a further 15 weeks learning about how our equipment works. At the end of this stage, you’ll go through grading. This is a set of tests that determines your suitability for your specialisation.

Once you’ve completed grading, you’ll begin your professional training at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire. Throughout this 24-week course, you’ll use state-of-the-art simulators under the guidance of our experienced instructors. From there, you’ll go to either RNAS Yeovilton, RNAS Culrose, or RAF Marham, where you’ll spend 34 weeks gaining hands-on experience working with real aircraft. At the end of this, you’ll gain your Certificate of Competency and be a fully qualified Air Traffic Control Officer.