AIR FORCE OFFICER / FULL TIME

Joint Battlefield Airspace Controller (Air Traffic Controller)


Take charge of the skies, controlling both civilian and military aircraft movements and managing battlefield aerial environments.

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Job Overview


About the Job

Military Air Traffic Controllers are known as Joint Battlefield Airspace Controllers (JBAC) because they do so much more than just control air traffic.

In the Air Force you'll manage both civilian and military aircraft movements in the domestic environment. Then in battlefield situations you'll take control of aircraft and their weapons, artillery, naval gunfire and unmanned aircraft, amongst other users of the airspace.

By becoming an Air Traffic Controller you will be joining a specialised group of only several hundred people worldwide who have been given these unique skills.

You don't need any experience or a degree to train to be an Air Traffic Controller in the Air Force, and within just five years you could be earning over $100,000 per year.

The comprehensive training you receive will teach you to monitor and assess 4-dimensional situations, direct aircraft movements and maintain safe distances. You'll be based at an Australian Air Base but when in full-scale tactical environments, could find yourself anywhere from a military exercise to a humanitarian mission.

The one consistent factor in your work is that every day is likely to present different challenges. Due to the nature of the job you'll be a shift worker, and deployments to new locations - which could be overseas - may be at short notice.

As an Air Traffic Controller in the Air Force your opportunities for advancement are excellent. With sufficient experience under your belt you'll have the opportunity to take on supervisory and training roles as well as Staff Officer positions.

  • Click below if you want to commence Air Traffic Controller training with a minimum of Year 12 qualifications.
  • Alternatively, to find out how to start your Air Force career with a degree from the Australian Defence Force Academy, click ADFA' in the Method of Entry above.
Australian Defence Force Academy

Complete a university degree at ADFA whilst undertaking military and leadership training

Officer

Join the ADF with Year 12 passes and appropriate qualifications

Learn more about Entry Methods


Salary can be over $71,900 p.a. on completion of initial employment training. This salary includes Uniform and Service allowance.


FULL JOB DETAILS

Key Information

Salary & Allowances

While studying at ADFA you will receive a salary of between $40,000 and $51,000, based on a three year degree. Your salary will increase at the beginning of each school year.

These figures include a Training Allowance but do not include the generous superannuation given to members of the Australian Defence Force.

During Military Training and (Initial) Employment Training, you may be required to pay a contribution towards meals, accommodation and utilities.

On graduation from ADFA your starting salary package will be approximately $71,600 per year plus generous superannuation. This includes Service and Uniform Allowances.

Salaries increase with rank, years of service and additional skills and qualifications gained.

Locations

You could be posted to any Air Force base within Australia, which include:

New South Wales

RAAF Base Williamtown

RAAF Base Richmond

Naval Air Station Norwa

Northern Territory

RAAF Base Darwin

RAAF Base Tindal

Queensland

RAAF Base Townsville

RAAF Base Amberley

Army Aviation Centre Oakey

South Australia

RAAF Base Edinburgh

Victoria

RAAF Base East Sale

Western Australia

RAAF Base Pearce

With appropriate tactical training you may participate in operations overseas. If suitably qualified, you may also get involved with joint tactical exercises working closely with Army units and in maritime activities onboard Navy vessels.


Requirements

Age

On the day you enter the Air Force you must be at least 17 years old. Subject to the capacity of your local recruiting centre, you may be able to start the application process aged 16 years.

Education & Experience

The requirements for acceptance into ADFA for an Air Traffic Controller career are:

  • Completion of Year 12.
  • Passes in English and three other Board subjects (of which Non-modified Mathematics and Physics are highly desirable).

Your academic results must also be acceptable to the University of New South Wales, University College at the Defence Academy. As well as applying to the Air Force for entry, you must also apply to the University through the Universities Admissions Centre (NSW and ACT). The UAC website is: www.uac.edu.au

This entry mode attracts a debt greater than the maximum rate of HECS due to the higher costs associated with ADFA studies ($25,000 per annum). In general terms, this debt accrues (increases) whilst undertaking study, with the maximum debt reached on completion of study. Once the period of study has ended, the debt begins to acquit (reduce) for the remainder of your Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS). Once the IMPS period is complete, there is no remaining debt.

Medical & Fitness

Naturally you'll have to be both mentally and physically fit to become an Air Traffic Controller.

At various stages during the application process you'll be assessed through (1) completion of a questionnaire relating to your medical history, (2) a physical examination, and (3) a Pre-entry Fitness Assessment (PFA).

Find out more about our medical and physical fitness standards here.

Here you can read about the medical examinations and screenings, what we're looking for and assessing, when in the application process it happens, and what you'll have to wear: Medical Process for Entry into the ADF

Period of Service

When you embark on a career as an Air Traffic Controller through ADFA you'll be appointed for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of nine years.

IMPS commences on the first day of your second year of studies when you formerly enlist in the Air Force, however there is a grace period. This allows you to leave with no obligation if you change your mind and submit an application to resign (or transfer to the Air Force Reserve) before 1st December on your second year of studies, as long as your request is approved.

Subsequent periods of service may be offered subject to ADF needs and your suitability for further service. You may tender your resignation at any time provided you do not have an outstanding IMPS obligation and give a minimum of three months notice.

Additional Requirements

The role of an Air Traffic Controller carries high levels of responsibility. So it's important you have the ability to:

  • Understand consequence of error
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Make rapid decisions in a dynamic environment
  • Prioritise tasks from multiple inputs
  • Communicate effectively to a prescribed standard
  • Perform under pressure in a multi-task environment
  • Obtain and maintain situational awareness
  • Have strong analytical thought processes
  • Have sound mental arithmetic ability
  • Have speech that is clear and free from impediment.

Good communication is critical in this job, so your speech must be clear and free from impediment.

You'll also need to hold a current provisional or open Australian Class C (equivalent or higher) motor vehicle licence for a vehicle with a manual transmission.

Aptitude

The application process to join the Australian Defence Force requires you to complete a series of aptitude tests which may include verbal, spatial and numerical ability and a general maths test. Some jobs may also require you to complete additional testing at a later date.

Psychology support staff will explain what is involved with each test.

The aptitude tests provide information about your suitability for the Defence Force and for particular jobs. Defence Force Recruiting can then help you identify jobs that best match your abilities.

Further information on the aptitude testing requirements can be found here.

Citizenship

Only Australian citizens are permitted to serve in the ADF.

If you are a permanent resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary waiver of the citizenship requirement if the position for which you are applying cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all the citizenship requirements, and then only in exceptional circumstances. You will be required to obtain Australian citizenship as early as possible following enlistment or appointment.

Find out more in our Citizenship page or ask your local Defence Force Recruiting Centre.

Training

Military Training

Once you are settled in to the Australian Defence Force Academy you will undertake six weeks of military training, to prepare you for Service life. This is followed by the annual Chief of the Defence Force Parade, after which the academic year commences.

In between your academic studies, six hours a week are allocated to military training; this consists of Academy Military Education and Training (AMET) for all three Services as well as Single Service Training (SST).

SST blocks are held at the beginning and end of the year. Through this program cadets gain equivalent skills to those gained by non-ADFA applicants taking the Initial Officers Course.

During AMET you will learn about and get involved with:

  • Defence strategies

  • Psychology and leadership

  • Drug and alcohol awareness

  • Military law

  • Physical and recreational training

  • Military drill and ceremonial training

  • Weapons training

  • Field training

  • Character development

  • English and military communications and

  • Study skills.

You will also have breaks in study to go on academic field trips, military tours, excursions and adventure training exercises (including five weeks at the Officers' Training School , East Sale, VIC in Year 2).

Employment Training

Joint Battlefield Airspace Control Course: 38 weeks

Once you've graduated from the Australian Defence Force Academy, you'll head to the School of Air Traffic Control (SATC) at RAAF Base East Sale, VIC for 38 weeks of specialist training.

Your course will be structured to meet the specific needs of Air Traffic Control Flights throughout Australia at the time of training. However all courses include:

  • Basic theory phase
  • Planner position simulator training (see below)
  • Tower control simulator training (see below)
  • Tactical phase (focussing on procedural control in Tower and Approach environments)
  • Basic instruction in Battlefield Airspace Control
  • A tactical field exercise

Graduates of the course are posted to either a 452 SQN Flight or a 453 SQN Fight to carry out on the job training; then generally return to SATC to complete the JBAC Approach course and subsequent post graduate courses. These include the Training Officer Course, Supervisor Course and In-Flight Emergency Response Course.

Qualified Air Traffic Controllers may return to SATC to become instructors, in which case they complete the Qualified Control Instructor Course.

Air Force Air Traffic Controllers may be employed in a number of different positions depending on their training and experience. Training in the following positions is provided at SATC:

Planner Controller - assists the radar controllers with the safe processing of all aircraft arriving, departing or operating within the airspace around the aerodrome, outside the responsibility of the Tower Controller. Coordinates with all air traffic control agencies that may be affected by an aircraft's flight path.

Tower Controller - takes responsibility for the safe expeditious control and co-ordination of all aircraft on the runway and airborne, within visual range of the aerodrome.

Surface Movement Controller - controls and coordinates all aircraft, vehicles and personnel in the aerodrome movement area and taxiways.

Approach Controller - controls and coordinates all aircraft arriving, departing or operating within the airspace around the aerodrome that are outside the responsibility of the Tower Controller, using both radar and non-radar methods.

Approach Co-ordinator or Planner - assists the radar controllers with the safe processing of all aircraft arriving, departing or operating within the airspace around the aerodrome that are outside the responsibility of the Tower Controller; and liaises with all aviation agencies that may be affected by an aircraft's flight path.

Area Controller - takes responsibility for the provision of air traffic services to both military and civil aircraft operating through military administered airspace, beyond the area of responsibility of Approach Control.

Further Training

Tactical Training

JBACs may elect to attend tactical courses to enable them to meet the operational requirements involved in tactical or exercise scenarios. This is known as the Battlefield Airspace Operations Course (BAOC), which provides an introduction to JBAC operations. This course is designed to provide JBACs with the knowledge and training required to perform a variety of Battlefield Airspace Control services in combat environments.

Subsequent courses conducted at the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre will prepare JBACs to operate in the joint environment with Army and Navy. BAOC graduates may elect to pursue parachuting with the Army, amphibious operations with the Navy, or operations from a semi-established airfield to support aircraft and airfield operations.

Other courses and further training

For career progression and to be employed in certain aspects of ATC, there are a number of other courses on offer. Some of these courses are compulsory; others are by selection only and include the following:

  • Basic Parachute Course (BPC)
  • Infantry Minor Tactics Course (IMC)
  • Combat Survival (COMSURV)
  • ATC Instructors Course (ATCINST)
  • In-Flight Emergency Response Course
  • Aviation Safety Officers Course
  • Crew Resource Management Course
  • Aviation Risk Management Course
  • Staff Skills Course
  • Workplace Assessor Course
  • Flight Commander Course
  • Squadron Leader's Course
  • Command and Staff Course (CSC).

Key Information

Salary & Allowances

During initial military and employment training, as an Officer Cadet you will receive the following salary package:

$56,600 per year if degree qualified + superannuation

$51,200 per year if non-degree qualified + superannuation

These figures include a Training Allowance and a uniform maintenance allowance.

Upon completion of your military and employment training your salary will increase to

$68,000 per year plus generous superannuation. This includes Service and Uniform Allowances.

Salaries increase with rank, years of service and additional skills and qualifications gained.

Locations

You could be posted to any Air Force base within Australia, which include:

New South Wales

RAAF Base Williamtown

RAAF Base Richmond

Naval Air Station Norwa

Northern Territory

RAAF Base Darwin

RAAF Base Tindal

Queensland

RAAF Base Townsville

RAAF Base Amberley

Army Aviation Centre Oakey

South Australia

RAAF Base Edinburgh

Victoria

RAAF Base East Sale

Western Australia

RAAF Base Pearce

With appropriate tactical training you may participate in operations overseas. If suitably qualified, you may also get involved with joint tactical exercises working closely with Army units and in maritime activities onboard Navy vessels.


Requirements

Age

Applicants must be a minimum of 17 years of age on day of entry.

Applicants will not normally be allowed to enter the ADF until they achieve a minimum of 17 years of age, however they may be able to initiate the application process from 16 years and six months of age, depending upon the capacity of their local recruiting centre.

Preferred maximum age on entry is 52 years of age.

Education & Experience

The requirements for acceptance into the Air Force for Air Traffic Controller training are:

  • Completion of Year 12.
  • Passes in English and three other Board subjects (of which Non-modified Mathematics and Physics are highly desirable).

Naturally previous aviation or air traffic control experience will be welcomed but it is not essential, as full training will be provided.

Insufficiently qualified?

You may still be eligible to sit an Alternative Education Equivalency (AEE) Assessment to ascertain your ability at the required education level, to become an Air Traffic Controller. Call our recruiting team on 13 19 01 for more details.

Medical & Fitness

Naturally you'll have to be both mentally and physically fit to become an Air Traffic Controller.

At various stages during the application process you'll be assessed through (1) completion of a questionnaire relating to your medical history, (2) a physical examination, and (3) a Pre-entry Fitness Assessment (PFA).

Find out more about our medical and physical fitness standards here.

Here you can read about the medical examinations and screenings, what we're looking for and assessing, when in the application process it happens, and what you'll have to wear: Medical Process for Entry into the ADF

Period of Service

When you embark on a career as an Air Traffic Controller through Initial Officer Training you'll be appointed for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of seven years. This begins on your enlistment with the Air Force.

Subsequent periods of service may be offered subject to ADF needs and your suitability for further service. You may tender your resignation at any time provided you do not have an outstanding IMPS obligation and give a minimum of three months notice.

Additional Requirements

The role of an Air Traffic Controller carries high levels of responsibility. So it's important you have the ability to:

  • Understand consequence of error
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Make rapid decisions in a dynamic environment
  • Prioritise tasks from multiple inputs
  • Communicate effectively to a prescribed standard
  • Perform under pressure in a multi-task environment
  • Obtain and maintain situational awareness
  • Have strong analytical thought processes
  • Have sound mental arithmetic ability
  • Have speech that is clear and free from impediment.

Good communication is critical in this job, so your speech must be clear and free from impediment.

You'll also need to hold a current provisional or open Australian Class C (equivalent or higher) motor vehicle licence for a vehicle with a manual transmission.

Aptitude

The application process to join the Australian Defence Force requires you to complete a series of aptitude tests which may include verbal, spatial and numerical ability and a general maths test. Some jobs may also require you to complete additional testing at a later date.

Psychology support staff will explain what is involved with each test.

The aptitude tests provide information about your suitability for the Defence Force and for particular jobs. Defence Force Recruiting can then help you identify jobs that best match your abilities.

Further information on the aptitude testing requirements can be found here.

Citizenship

Only Australian citizens are permitted to serve in the ADF.

If you are a permanent resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary waiver of the citizenship requirement if the position for which you are applying cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all the citizenship requirements, and then only in exceptional circumstances. You will be required to obtain Australian citizenship as early as possible following enlistment or appointment.

Find out more in our Citizenship page or ask your local Defence Force Recruiting Centre.

Security Requirements

The Department of Defence requires ADF entrants to attain a security clearance appropriate to their avenue of entry. Details on the security requirements for all Air Force jobs can be found here.

Training

Military Training

Initial Officer Training: 18 Weeks

As soon as you join the Air Force you'll undertake a 18-week Initial Officer Course at RAAF Base East Sale, VIC.

There, you'll be introduced to military life and learn about Air Force values and attitudes. The other major elements of the course include:

  • Ground defence and weapons training
  • Leadership and personal development
  • Communication skills
  • Air Force operations.

You can find out more about the structure and requirements of the Initial Officer Course on the Officers Training School website, where you can also access guidance on how to arrange your personal affairs before appointment. You'll also find useful information in our Joining Instructions.

Employment Training

Joint Battlefield Airspace Control Course: 38 weeks

Once you've completed the Initial Officer Course you'll head to the School of Air Traffic Control (SATC) at RAAF Base East Sale, VIC for 38 weeks of specialist training.

Your course will be structured to meet the specific needs of Air Traffic Control Flights throughout Australia at the time of training. However all courses include:

  • Basic theory phase
  • Planner position simulator training (see below)
  • Tower control simulator training (see below)
  • Tactical phase (focussing on procedural control in Tower and Approach environments)
  • Basic instruction in Battlefield Airspace Control
  • A tactical field exercise

Graduates of the course are posted to either a 452 SQN Flight or a 453 SQN Fight to carry out on the job training; then generally return to SATC to complete the JBAC Approach course and subsequent post graduate courses. These include the Training Officer Course, Supervisor Course and In-Flight Emergency Response Course.

Qualified Air Traffic Controllers may return to SATC to become instructors, in which case they complete the Qualified Control Instructor Course.

Air Force Air Traffic Controllers may be employed in a number of different positions depending on their training and experience. Training in the following positions is provided at SATC:

Planner Controller - assists the radar controllers with the safe processing of all aircraft arriving, departing or operating within the airspace around the aerodrome, outside the responsibility of the Tower Controller. Coordinates with all air traffic control agencies that may be affected by an aircraft's flight path.

Tower Controller - takes responsibility for the safe expeditious control and co-ordination of all aircraft on the runway and airborne, within visual range of the aerodrome.

Surface Movement Controller - controls and coordinates all aircraft, vehicles and personnel in the aerodrome movement area and taxiways.

Approach Controller - controls and coordinates all aircraft arriving, departing or operating within the airspace around the aerodrome that are outside the responsibility of the Tower Controller, using both radar and non-radar methods.

Approach Co-ordinator or Planner - assists the radar controllers with the safe processing of all aircraft arriving, departing or operating within the airspace around the aerodrome that are outside the responsibility of the Tower Controller; and liaises with all aviation agencies that may be affected by an aircraft's flight path.

Area Controller - takes responsibility for the provision of air traffic services to both military and civil aircraft operating through military administered airspace, beyond the area of responsibility of Approach Control.

Further Training

Tactical Training

JBACs may elect to attend tactical courses to enable them to meet the operational requirements involved in tactical or exercise scenarios. This is known as the Battlefield Airspace Operations Course (BAOC), which provides an introduction to JBAC operations. This course is designed to provide JBACs with the knowledge and training required to perform a variety of Battlefield Airspace Control services in combat environments.

Subsequent courses conducted at the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre will prepare JBACs to operate in the joint environment with Army and Navy. BAOC graduates may elect to pursue parachuting with the Army, amphibious operations with the Navy, or operations from a semi-established airfield to support aircraft and airfield operations.

Other courses and further training

For career progression and to be employed in certain aspects of ATC, there are a number of other courses on offer. Some of these courses are compulsory; others are by selection only and include the following:

  • Basic Parachute Course (BPC)
  • Infantry Minor Tactics Course (IMC)
  • Combat Survival (COMSURV)
  • ATC Instructors Course (ATCINST)
  • In-Flight Emergency Response Course
  • Aviation Safety Officers Course
  • Crew Resource Management Course
  • Aviation Risk Management Course
  • Staff Skills Course
  • Workplace Assessor Course
  • Flight Commander Course
  • Squadron Leader's Course
  • Command and Staff Course (CSC).