10 Countries With The Highest Air Traffic Controller (ATC) Salaries

(Last Updated On: September 29, 2020)

An air traffic controller monitors the location of aircraft in their assigned airspace by radar and communicate with the pilots by radio. They enforce traffic separation rules so to ensure each aircraft maintains a minimum amount of empty space around it at all times. Here is a list of countries with the highest paid air traffic controllers. (Figures are converted into US dollars)

1. Spain

Salary – $700,000

Spanish ATCs are among the best paid in Europe. The average basic salary is €200,000 however most workers are able to triple their income by working over time. The top ten get paid between €800,000 – €900,000 a year while the vast majority are paid between €300,000 – €600,000 annually.


2. Ireland

Salary – $234,000

According to the Irish Aviation Authority, experienced ATCs based in Ireland earn between €170,000 – €230,000 a year. The basic starting salary for a fully qualified controller is around €55,000 annually. They also get a shift allowance which will bring their total pay to €80,000 a year.


3. Germany

Salary – $152,000

German ATCs generally work 25 hours a week with 40 – 50 days of holiday. According to Germany’s aviation agency, the DFS, air traffic controllers have an annual salary that ranges between €72,000 – €140,000


4. Switzerland

Salary – $136,000

After the first radar qualification, ATCs earn about 6,000 CHF per month and this rises to 9,000 CHF per month after the second radar qualification. They also get an extra CHF 1,500 for special responsibilities.

5. United Kingdom

Salary – $129,000

The starting salary of ATCs based in the UK is £17,000 during their first period of training with NATS. They also get other benefits such as a pension scheme, voluntary benefits and some may get weekly payments towards accommodation. Once one is done with training, they can expect a starting salary of between £37,000 – £41,000 a year. Senior ATCs can earn over £100,000 working at the larger centers of Swanwick and Heathrow.


6. Australia

Salary – $128,000

Australian air traffic controllers have starting salaries of $99,899. An experienced ATC can earn up to AU$180,000 annually and this includes the basic salary, allowance, company superannuation and other payments.


7. France

Salary – $126,000

To be able to be an ATC in France, one must pass the selective exam from the ENAC school and very few positions are open. After graduation, the young ATC undergoes skills training for between 18 months and two years. The entry salary is around €5,000 a month and this rises to €9,000 a month towards the end of their career.


8. United States

Salary – $120,830

The national average annual wage of an air traffic controller is $120,830 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of the highest paying states are New Hampshire ($147350), Virginia ($139,520), Illinois ($136,390), Georgia ($136,210) and Texas ($133,260)


9. New Zealand

Salary –  $118,000

According to data provided by Airways New Zealand, ATCs earn between NZ$90,000 – NZ$160,000 in the early years of their careers. This rises up to NZ$160,000 – NZ$180,000 a year once they gain a substantial amount of experience.


10. Canada

Salary – $113,000

There are over 1,900 air traffic controllers at Nav Canada which is the owner and operator of the country’s air navigation service. It owns and operates all air traffic control towers and area control towers in the country. The employees manage 12 million aircraft movements a year. Air traffic controllers start with a salary of CA$44,000 annually during the training period and this will rise to about CA$151,000 plus competitive premiums.