Air Traffic Controller Salary in South Africa

Air traffic controllers are the unsung heroes who are responsible for the safe and efficient flow of flights. These are the people behind the curtain, giving instructions to the flight operators or the pilots about the air tracks, their direction, and other complicated details related to landing track and takeoff.

Occupation:Air Traffic Controller
Monthly Salary Range:R 16466 – R 57408
Average Monthly Salary:R 36937
Description:An air traffic controller is responsible for the safe and orderly flow of the aircraft, providing instructions to the aircraft operator.
Minimum Qualification:A candidate should possess a Bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management or Transportation Management and a National Diploma in Aircraft piloting for an ATC position.

If you are about to join a career but are uncertain whether air traffic controllers earn well, you should see the salary details of controllers. The scope for the air traffic controller position is widening in South Africa, so you will find a job right after completing your education. Come with me to see the required qualifications, monthly income, and salary structure of the air traffic controller position in detail.

Overview of Air Traffic Controller Salary

South African Airlines is known as one of the best airlines on the continent of Africa, and the reason behind its excellence lies in the office of air traffic controllers. These are the people behind the curtain, managing the flights and providing instructions to the pilot regarding the vicinity of the airport and between the air control centers. The purpose of an ATC is to help pilots take off, land, and operate the flights safely.

The field of airbus control from a control center is very tough, as one should possess exceptional skills in transportation management and aviation science. Despite the toughness of a professional’s responsibilities, the entry-level salary of an ATC is about R16,466, and the highest recorded pay is R57,408. However, the average salary of an ATC is R35,875, and the median pay is R38,900.


Some claim that the pay of an ATC position is below their expectations, while others criticize that the pay does not align with the efforts an ATC exerts in his job. Well, the majority of people ignore the fact that these ATCs also get a list of extras such as incentives, bonuses, allowances, and facilities. The poll indicates that only 34% of employees get extras, while 66% of ATCs are deprived of facilities and incentives.

A personal performance bonus, which is given to an employee based on his progress, is well-known among employees. If an employee performs better than others, takes no leaves, and coordinates with all the other employees finely, he receives an extra amount with salary at the end of the month. Additionally, employees enjoy facilities such as free transportation, accommodation, and healthcare services.

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Salary Structure

The salary structure of an air traffic controller position is not as complex as the other positions. Traffic controllers are hired by both governments and private sectors.

A list of factors can determine the salary of an ATC, such as years of experience, education, gender, and location. I have explained all these factors in detail; take a look below.


Years of ExperienceMonthly Salary in Rands
0-2 YearsR18,775
2-5 YearsR25,108
5-10 YearsR37,025
10-15 YearsR45,400
15-20 YearsR49,350
20+ YearsR53,491

In this table, you can see that the salary increases over time based on the experience of an air traffic controller. The initial salary of an employee from the early days to the 2 years is about R18,775, while after 5 years, the salary is R25,108. The table indicates that there is a 34% increase from 2 to 5 years, 48% from 5 to 10 years, and 22% increase from 10 to 15 years of service.

The salary after 15 to 20 years of service increases by 9%, and it increases by 8% after 20 years. There is a gradual increase from 2 to 5 years, then a rapid rise from 5 to 10 years and 10 to 15 years, 48% and 22% respectively. But after 15 years to 20 and 20+, the salary does not increase rapidly but gradually, 22%, 9% and 8% respectively.


Education LevelMonthly Salary in Rands
Certificate or DiplomaR21,475
Bachelor’s DegreeR33,859
Master’s DegreeR56,600

You can get the job of an ATC after a diploma, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degree. Employees with an aviation management diploma get lower salaries than those with a bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, the master’s degree holder earns higher than both of them, as indicated in the table.

Other Factors

  • Gender: South Africa is still unable to overcome the rising problem of gender discrimination as it follows the laws of the colonial era when gender discrimination was legal. Polls claim that male ATCs earn more than their female counterparts. The survey indicates that females receive 8% less salary than the male ATCs.
  • Location: Some airports are busier than others; for example, the airports of Cape Town and Johannesburg remain busy 24/7, while Soweto and Durban airports are not as busy as previous ones. People who work in the busy airports get higher salaries than the other ones.

Responsibilities of Air Traffic Controller

Air Traffic Management

A primary responsibility of an air traffic controller is to manage flight operations by instructing pilots. An ATC provides all kinds of instructions to a flight operator, from landing to taking off and about air tracks. The purpose of an ATC is to ensure the safe separation between two or more aircraft in the air.

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Weather Monitoring

One of the most important tasks of an ATC is to instruct a flight operator about the weather and safety measures. He ensures that the plane does not come into contact with a storm or extreme weather conditions, which can increase the chances of a plane crash.

Emergency Handling

An ATC should have the skills to deal with mental pressure because sometimes he may need to assist in an emergency landing or takeoff. In such conditions, an ATC should have the experience to provide expert opinions to a pilot about speed, altitude, and all the other complicated information.

Use of Technology

An ATC must have a basic understanding of using advanced technology to ensure the safe flow of aircraft. It is important because when it comes to landing or takeoff, an ATC needs to use complicated technology to measure altitude, gravity force, and all the other complicated factors to ensure a safe landing.


How long does it take to become an air traffic controller in South Africa?

It takes 4 to 6 years to complete a Bachelor of Aviation Science or Traffic Management and then learn skills to operate complicated air traffic maintenance machines.

How long can an air traffic controller work?

An air traffic controller may need to work 10 straight hours at night.

What do you need to know about air traffic controllers?

An air traffic controller knows the skills to deal with highly sophisticated technology such as radars and radio communication machines.

The job of the air traffic controllers is very tough as they need to spend hours sitting and explaining the air tracks to the pilots, informing them about the weather conditions, using radars to identify airbuses, and providing instructions to the aircraft operators. We should acknowledge the tireless efforts they exert in their jobs and appreciate the income they make monthly. I hope this information will help you in the future; thank you.

Article Modified on October 28, 2023. The data in this article is written and collected by multiple authors. Learn how we research on About Us.