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Air Force

Aerospace Control Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time

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Aerospace Control Officers contribute to air operations by providing air traffic control services and air weapons control.

Aerospace Control Officers are responsible for the conduct of aerospace surveillance, warning, and control of airborne objects throughout Canadian airspace. As an integral part of the Canadian Air Navigation System, they also provide control to civilian and military aircraft during combat and training operations worldwide.

Aircrew Selection Centre – the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) requires that all Pilots, Aerospace Controllers and Air Combat Systems Officers attend and successfully complete the Aircrew Selection. The selection centre is located in Trenton, Ontario where candidates are tested over a 2-day period with computer-based scenarios designed to validate those skills and aptitudes required by the RCAF. Success at Aircrew Selection is a necessary step in order to continue to be processed for these three occupations. Watch this video to learn more.

Work environment

Aerospace Control Officers may be deployed to a ship, aircraft, or in the field throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. Initially, Aerospace Control Officers are employed as either air traffic controllers at Canadian military airbases, or in the air defence realm, controlling fighter aircraft at the Canadian Air Defence Sector.

Career Overview




CAPTAIN SHANNON ARCHER: I’m Captain Shannon Archer from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. I’m an Aerospace Control Officer currently posted at 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

Aerospace Control, or AEC, Officers play an important role in North American airspace. They work as air traffic controllers in control towers and terminals on Royal Canadian Air Force bases in Canada, expertly guiding aircraft through the skies using visual and instrument flight rules.  

ARCHER: One of the great things about becoming an Aerospace Controller are – we get to work domestically and help Canada with their mission, but we also have the opportunity to deploy. The DART for example, we were in Haiti, where we set up an airfield and brought in aid.

AEC Officers also serve as Air Battle Managers in air defence and air operations command centres all over the world – both on the ground, and in the air onboard command and control aircraft called AWACS. Air Battle Managers conduct a variety of missions – from counter-drug operations to full-spectrum combat. Each of these missions are unique and require detailed planning. As tactical command and control experts, Air Battle Managers position aircraft, sensors, and airborne systems to maximize the combat capability of the RCAF and Allied forces.

At the Canadian Air Defence Sector in North Bay, Ontario, Aerospace Control Officers lead highly trained teams that monitor a web of radar-tracking stations that keep track of all air traffic over North America. They are responsible for detecting threats to Canadian sovereignty, making critical real-time decisions if an intruder or threats are detected – safeguarding the airspace above our country.

ARCHER: People ask me a lot if this job is stressful. I’d have to say, yes it is stressful, but in a good way. I thrive off the stress that this job does provide – the ever-changing dynamic and the ultimate unknowns that are going to happen every day, is really what I thrive on and what most air traffic controllers really drive themselves towards.                        

Other postings for AEC Officers include supporting joint forces by going to sea onboard Canadian warships as maritime fighter controllers, and coordinating close-air support for the Army.

Aerospace Control Officers also conduct a variety of space operations. With specialized training in space science, they lead skilled teams that track space objects in orbit and identify potential collisions or threats to allied space systems. They also provide critical space-based information to operational combat units, and send missile warning information to NORAD for the defence of North America and for the safety of deployed Canadian forces globally.

ARCHER: The coolest part of being an Aerospace Controller is the ability to speak to aircraft and assist the Canadian Forces in completing their mission. Each day I come to work, I look forward to interacting with not only the people, but the different challenges and opportunities, the different environments that I get to work in. It’s an exciting new challenge every day.

After their initial occupation training, AEC Officers trained as Air Traffic Controllers are typically posted to a military air traffic control centre at one of the RCAF’s six major air bases in Canada.

Aerospace Control Officers initially trained as Air Battle Managers are normally posted to the Canadian Air Defence Sector, to a combat reporting centre, or to NORAD’s various Battle Control Centres in the United States.

In all settings, Aerospace Control Officers will have the opportunity to lead and manage small teams. And as their careers progress, those leadership roles and responsibilities will continue to expand, with many opportunities for continuous professional development, academic advancement and specialized training.

ARCHER: Attributes to become an Aerospace Controller: you need to be able to make decisions, make yourself a plan, implement your plan, assess your plan, and make changes. You need to have high levels of integrity, call yourself on errors and make sure you can fix your errors. You need to be able to multi-task and prioritize information as it’s coming to and from.

ARCHER: There’s definitely days that I sit up in the tower or down in the radar sector when I get excited. I realize that this is what I get to do for a living. Not only am I an air traffic controller, part of the Aerospace Control trade, but I’m in the Air Force and I get to be a part of the bigger picture. I get to control aircraft, something that not a lot of people are able to do. I get to work in different places around the world, around Canada. The views are spectacular. I love my job when I come to work every day.


Related Civilian Occupations

  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Flight Service Specialist
  • Railway and Maritime Traffic Controller
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Airport Manager


After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 12 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Aerospace Control Officers attend the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations in Cornwall, Ontario, for three to five months. Aerospace Control Officer candidates learn to apply control techniques for both air defence and air traffic control duties. They also receive instruction and simulator training on the following topics:

  • Airborne weapons systems
  • Ground control systems and radar
  • Meteorology
  • Radiotelephony and procedure
  • Air regulations and navigation orders
  • Aircraft performance characteristics
  • Command and control directives governing the control of interceptor aircraft
  • Aerospace Control Officers are granted a licence in the control of live aircraft after passing an examination on local operating procedures.

Aerospace Control Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Airborne Warning and Control System
  • Space and Missile operations
  • Tactical Air Control Party (Land)
  • Maritime Fighter Control (Navy)

Entry plans

If you already have a university degree, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.

Regular Officer Training Plan

Due to the requirement for CAF officer to obtain a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program in the Royal Military College System. Recruits will receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working in the CAF for a period of time. Typically, candidates enter the Canadian Military College System as an Officer Cadet where they study subjects relevant to both their military and academic career. In rare instances, based on the needs of the CAF, candidates may be approved attend another Canadian University. A determination will be made on a case by case basis. If you are applying for this program, you must apply to the CAF and it is recommended to apply to other Canadian universities of your choice should you not be accepted for ROTP.

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Part time options

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force wing in their community. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Aerospace Control Officers employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at CAF bases and tactical units at locations within Canada.

Find a Recruiting Centre

This occupation is only open to members of the Regular Force who have been trained as Aerospace Control Officers and wish to transfer to the Reserve Force, or former military members who have the Aerospace Control Officer qualification.

Air Reserve members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts and are employed in the same unit and perform the same job. Air Reserve members usually serve up to 12 days per month in a regular work day, with opportunities to serve full time for short durations as needed. Reserve Force members are paid 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.