Air Traffic Controller Salary Guide and Career Outlook

The average air traffic controller salary in the United States is of $82,292 while in the United Kingdom, they earn E53,502 ($58,261).  Similarly, the air traffic controller salary in Australia and New Zealand is at AU$118,000 ($87,603) and NZ$120,000 ($82,619) respectively. However, the pay in South Africa is R242,713 ($18,048) and the lowest salary is seen in India at Rs 720,000 ($11,205).

This air traffic controller career and salary guide cover the salary in seven different countries. Experience and industry impact the salary in different ways. Finally, the working schedule, job outlook, and job benefits are reviewed.

How Much Does an Air Traffic Controller Make per Year by Country?

Air Traffic Controller Salary USCanadaUKAustraliaNew ZealandIndiaSouth Africa
Hourly Pay$39.75C$48.94* ($35.64)E25.00 ($27.22)AU$56.73* ($42.12)NZ$57.69 ($39.72)Rs 346.15* ($5.39)R116.68* ($8,68)
Annual Pay$82,292C$101,803 ($74,138)E53,502 ($58,261)AU$118,000 ($87,603)NZ$ 120,000 ($82,619)Rs 720,000 ($11,205)R242,713 ($18,048)

Pay information denoted with a (*) indicates the hourly pay was correlated from the annual salary.

air traffic controller salary

Air Traffic Controllers Salary Influencing Factors

Every major or regional airport need air traffic controllers. All of the pay data in this salary guide comes from Payscale with the exception of New Zealand and India. There is variation in pay based on the individuals who enter their data.

1. Location

How Much Does an Air Traffic Controller Make in the US?

Air Traffic Controller Salary USPer YearPer Hour
Bonus/Tip$12,373No additional pay
OvertimeNo additional pay$23.27 to $127.13
Total Pay$37,905 to $153,636

How Much Does an Air Traffic Controller Make in Canada?

Air Traffic Controller Salary CanadaPer YearPer Hour
Bonus/TipC$17,000No additional pay
OvertimeNo additional payNo additional pay
Total PayC$40,574 to C$170,984

 How Much Does an Air Traffic Controller Make in the UK?

Air Traffic Controller Salary UKPer YearPer Hour
Bonus/TipE9,274No additional pay
OvertimeNo additional payE1,00
Total PayE29,336 to E107,315

How Much Does an Air Traffic Controller Make in Australia?

Air Traffic Controller Salary AustraliaPer YearPer Hour
Bonus/TipAU$15,000No additional pay
OvertimeNo additional payNo additional pay
Total PayAU$59,322 to AU$202,469

How Much Does an Air Traffic Controller Make in New Zealand?

Air Traf. Controller Salary New ZealandPer YearPer Hour
Bonus/TipNo additional payNo additional pay
OvertimeNo additional payNo additional pay
Total PayNZ$83,000 to NZ$180,000

How Much Does an Air Traffic Controller Make in India?

Air Traffic Controller Salary CanadaPer YearPer Hour
MinimumRs 742,000Rs 69.69*
MaximumRs 1,080,000Rs 343.70*
Bonus/TipRS 55,000No additional pay
OvertimeNo additional payNo additional pay
Total PayRs 144,966 to Rs 868,093

How Much Does an Air Traffic Controller Make in South Africa?

Air Traffic Controller Salary CanadaPer YearPer Hour
Bonus/TipR67,871No additional pay
OvertimeNo additional payNo additional pay
Total PayR105,642 to R577,412

2. Experience

In Australia, pay increases sharply for the first 15 years of employment from AU$100,000 to AU$180,000. Conversely, experienced air traffic controllers in Canada make 37 percent above the median. In South Africa, mid-career professionals earn 85 percent above the median. An air traffic controller starting salary in the United Kingdom increases from E40,000 to E65,000 for those with more than 20 years of experience. There are large pay increases in the United States for those that are new to the profession and those with more than 20 years of experience.

The participants who entered pay data from Australia are evenly split with 29 percent having 1 to 4 years of experience and 24 percent having both 5 to 9 and 10 to 19 years. In Canada, the highest experience level of participants is 10 to 19 years. However, in India and the United States, the most common category is those with 1 to 4 years. In the United Kingdom, the largest range of participants had more than 20 years of experience.

 3. Industry

In the United States, virtually all air traffic controllers work for the Federal Aviation Administration. However, they could work in different environments depending on what part of the airplane’s flight they control. There are air traffic controllers for working in the towers and these professionals help plans to take off and land. Alternatively, there are air traffic controllers who help to control the flights when they are in the air. These professionals do not need to work at the airport and will frequently work in a large center with other en route controllers.

This job is very intense and training is required in order to prevent mistakes with the airplanes. In the United States, for example, there is an age limit and air traffic controllers are not permitted to work past the age of 56.

Overall, the States with the highest proportion of air traffic controllers in relation to their square area are New Hampshire, New Mexico, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The only overlap between the highest number and the highest paid states is New Hampshire. Other states with the highest salary are New Hampshire, Virginia, Georgia, Minnesota, and Ohio.

Schedule & Working Hours

Air traffic controllers need to work full-time and on a rotating shift schedule. However, there are a few exceptions, such as the smallest of regional airports that do not close. Furthermore, an airport traffic controller will have to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. It is normal for these professionals to have to work more than 40 hours a week.

While they may participate in meetings and team building activities, the vast majority of their time at work is spent controlling the aircraft. They need to make sure they get a good night of sleep because it is a cognitively demanding job and requires complete focus at all times. Mistakes could have serious repercussions.

 Bonuses & Benefits

One of the largest benefits for air traffic controllers in the United States is that they have to retire at the age of 56. However, this benefit comes with a price because their training is very stressful.

Most full-time air traffic controllers get health care coverage. In addition, they can benefit from reimbursement for training, a high level of respect for the job, an employer retirement account, childcare spending accounts, and flexible spending accounts.

The table below breaks down healthcare benefits by health field. While medical care is the most common, air traffic controllers experience comprehensive coverage frequently. If a (–) is present this indicates that the data was not available.

CountryUnited StatesCanadaUnited KingdomAustraliaNew ZealandIndiaSouth Africa

 Career Outlook

In both the United States and New Zealand, the job outlook for air traffic controllers is very poor. This is due to many qualified applicants applying for the jobs and automation reducing the need for some air traffic controllers. The NextGen satellite system allows for fewer air traffic controllers to handle more of the air traffic.

In addition, job advancement for air traffic controllers is not significant because they already hold a high position. However, controllers who work for regional airports could progress to working at an international airport.

While the job is predominately male in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States at 80, 85 and, 90 percent, there are actually more females than males at 60 to 40 percent.


The air traffic controller career has theoretically been a very important job. They were responsible for keeping aircraft safe both in flight and with arrivals and departures. While we will always need air traffic controllers, automation will replace some of these professionals. Another position in the same environment for you to consider is that of a pilot.

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