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Company Profile - National Air Traffic Services


In a nutshell, it’s our job at NATS to ensure the orderly, efficient and safe passage of all aircraft through UK airspace and beyond – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our controllers are world-renowned for their professionalism and, as an organisation, we lead the world, both in terms of our expertise and technology.

Who are we?

We pride ourselves on creating an environment that both challenges and engages – one that, ultimately, lets you take control. And because we’ve set ourselves some pretty challenging targets for the next few years, one thing is clear: we can only achieve these by attracting the best people.


If we’re successful, we’ll be shaping the future of our industry by setting new standards in safety, service and value to our customers – the airlines. We’ll be leading the way technically, operationally, commercially and politically – all of which will continue to make NATS a very exciting place to work.

Career Opportunities

Our controllers are at the heart of our business. They issue instructions and information to pilots by radio to keep air traffic flying safely, efficiently and on time.

Because we’re a 24 hour business, our controllers, as well as some of our engineers and assistants, work in shifts. They have to deal with one of the most complex pieces of airspace in the world, and work at some of the world's busiest airports. To enable this we offer first-class training, and they are rewarded with first-class terms and conditions.

Training and Development

Initial training to become an Air Traffic Controller takes place at our College of Air Traffic Control at Bournemouth Airport. 

The college course lasts approximately 11 months for Area Trainees and Terminal Control Trainees, six months for Aerodrome Trainees and nine months for Aerodrome/Approach Trainees. Next, you’ll undergo validation training at your unit, the length of which will depend on the complexity of the unit and how quickly you progress.  

Wherever you join us, you’ll be paid an attractive salary.
Before you begin training, we will ask you which area you’d prefer but this will largely be determined by our business needs. Generally, the biggest requirement is for Area Controllers, so this area will account for most of our trainees. 

Your progress through training is assessed continually both through exams, practical assessments and oral tests. You must pass these before your training can continue. If you fail, we’ll review what happens next on a case-by-case basis.

Many trainees are surprised by the volume of work required both at the college and in the evening. There is a considerable amount of legislation that must be learnt. It is unlikely you’ll pass the course unless you’re prepared to commit at least two to three hours per night, plus some time at the weekend. This is particularly true in the earlier courses where there is a higher theoretical content.

What we look for

Our ATCOs come from all kinds of backgrounds. We have people who have joined us straight from school/college, university or who have worked in office-based roles, customer service, retail – anywhere, in fact – so as you can see it’s not so much where you come from that matters. It’s your skills and competencies that really count. 

There are also some important health-based criteria you’ll need to meet before you can become an ATCO, so please visit the eligibility section of our website to find out more.

What we offer

 We won’t just be investing in you in terms of time and training; we’ll also pay you whilst you’re learning. 

On joining, you’ll get a basic salary of £10,468.71*, along with an attractive benefits package. This will include everything from a contributory pension scheme and generous annual leave to a whole host of voluntary benefits and family friendly policies.

As a trainee, you’ll also get a weekly accommodation payment of £60*. And you’ll be eligible for a further £1,000* when you’ve completed your college-based training to cover travel and other expenses.

After the college training phase, you’ll receive a salary of between £15,000* and £18,000* depending on where you’re posted.

Once you’ve completed your training, your salary will rise to £28,672* – £31,400*, again depending on the unit.

When you become an ATCO, on your third joining anniversary, subject to validation, your salary will rise to £39,922* – £44,857* plus shift pay of £5,247*. After qualifying, you could potentially earn over £85,000* (inclusive of shift pay) at Swanwick and Heathrow.

Your holiday allowance, as a Trainee or a qualified ATCO, will be 28 days per year plus public holidays and these are programmed into the training course.  More detailed information on benefits will be provided when you join us. 

*At 2008 rates.

How to apply

 Find out more at

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