Tower air traffic controllers work at one of 41 airports across the country. Air traffic controllers have a direct view of the airport and aircraft and use radio communication to issue instructions and clearances.
The instructions and clearances they provide help maintain a safe and orderly flow both in the air within a defined airspace which is referred to as the “control zone”, as well on the ground on runways and taxiways. Each tower operation varies according to volume and complexity of the traffic, geography, local weather and procedures. Tasks will range from handling large commercial aircraft to small recreational aircraft on training circuits and anything in between.
Training to become a tower controller starts at the regional training unit located at one of seven area control centres. The first stage of training consists of classroom and simulator training. You’ll start by learning the manual of operations and phraseology, moving to simulation training in a fictitious airport setting (known as March airport). Depending on the location that you will be posted, you may complete some of your training in a high-fidelity simulator that closely represents a specific, real airport environment. This is followed by on-the-job training, where you’ll be paired with an experienced tower controller who will serve as your on-the-job instructor.
Classroom and simulator training: 4 to 6 months
Phase 1 student allowance: $30,000
On the job training: 6 to 12 months
Phase 2 training salary: $40,700
Total duration of training: 10 to 18 months
Approximate salary for a licensed tower controller $69,000 to $131,000*
*Tower controller positions in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal Towers have a salary range of $95,000 to $142,000.
In addition, you can receive premiums and bonuses related to duties as an on-the-job instructor, working at sites that offer air traffic services in both official languages, taking on supervisory duties, location premiums and evening, weekend and holiday shift premiums.