Can i join as a Rating and become an Officer?

If i join as an Aircraft Controller (Rating) is it possible to work my way through the ranks and become an Officer?
I am quessing the natural progression would be to become an ATC
If you can do this how long would it take?

Replies appreciated

I went down on an acquaint to Yeovilton last month, and from what I gathered, AC ratings are either air traffic controller's assistants or ship's helicopter controllers at AB/LH level, and after that become JATCC qualified and essentially do the same job as an ATC Officer would do.

There were a couple of POACs there who were planning on doing AIB soon.

Check your PMs also - there's someone on here who is a POAC and will answer your question far more accurately than I have.
Thank you for the info.

One navy slang and abbreviations is not great lol can you decode that please!! (JATCC and POAC)
So what is the difference between AC and an ATC officer if they do the same job??

Is it just a difference in the amount of responsibility involved?

And back to my original question, it sounds like a natural progression to get your commission to become an ATC officer?

The thing is i have an application in to join as an officer but im not sure if that is the correct route for myself and was thinking that it might be better for me to join as a rating and work my way up the ranks and get my commission later in my career

My only concern is that i get stuck in the lower ranks and cannot get my commission.
Webby said:
So what is the difference between AC and an ATC officer if they do the same job??
An ATC officer will go straight from BRNC to JATCC and become qualified on all controlling positions (i.e. radar and airfield), and any sea time would be spent on carriers.

An AC rating would not do JATCC until becoming a Senior Rate, and would go to sea on 22/23/42/45s operating the ships helicopter in a more tactical role at Junior Rate level.

That's really as much as I can be sure of, anything beyond that would only be me guessing so I'll leave it for others with actual experience to comment.
My advice is if you have the required educational qualifications and aptitude qualities to join as an officer do it.
If not join as a rating and take the longer more laborious route.
I'll back slim up here (and I'm sure he really appreciates it). If you want to be an Officer, join as one; don't fart around being a junior rate. Their roles and responsibilities are separate, and being one will not make you any better, any more respected or any more liked when in the job of the other....


Lantern Swinger
I disagree. An ATC Officer has very little opportunity to go to sea and surley that's why most people join the Navy. If being solely ATC is your ultimate dream then join the crabs. The route from LAC to an ATC Officer is well troden with many ex-ratings becoming ATC Officers after a spell of being a real matelot at sea. However for many AC's air traffic is an adqual that gives security of shore time, but will also allow you to go back to sea in various roles. Providing you have the qualifications and recommendations the AC branch is offering rapid promotion and you will not be wasting your time if you join as a rating then wish to become a Officer, plus JATCC is a lot easier once you have been controlling at sea for a while!!
Thanks for the replies everyone. You have all given me plenty to think about.
I see what you are saying when you say that if i want to be an officer then join as one, i agree with this to a certain extent but i also agree with sea dodger.

One last question for you sea dodger; when you say, for many ACs air traffic is an adqual that gives security of shore time but also leaves open the option to go back to sea in various roles, how often are ACs likely to go to sea (i am joining the navy because i want to go to sea but also have a passion for aviation) and what is the range of different roles?

Again, thank you for all your replies


Lantern Swinger
Once you complete your training to become an AC (about 18-24 months from joining up) you will join a ship as an LAC. You can expect to spend the next 2-3 years at sea, which could involve being on different ships and different flights.

Assuming you are switched on and pass you professional exam for PO AC you should reach PO within 5 years of joining. From there you have two options- remain a tactical AC or volunteer for JATCC. JATCC is considered the better option for further promotion and job opportunities.
Post JATCC expect a minimum of 3 years shore time and if you are keen to become an Officer that's the time to do it. I have an oppo who recently did it- he spent 2 terms at BRNC and returned to the same job but on the higher SD pay spine.

Sea to shore ratio for AC Senior Rates is good, if you do want to go to sea there are jobs within the RFA's, carriers, LPH, LPD, FOST & with the booties if your a fitty, if you don't want to go; there are plenty of ATC shore billets and instructional billets at the AC school and Collingwood, drafty is very good to us and you generally get the jobs you want. But you will go to sea as a PO at some point (you can't hide in ATC all the time)!!

As mention promotion to PO is rapid, however from there promotion is fairly slow with only 1-2 PO's being selected for CPO per year.

Generally, I would advise that you should join as an Officer if you can, however ATC Officers spend a great deal of time at an air station and do little else, therefore if you want to go to sea either join as something else or join as an AC and enjoy a bit of life before going into ATC.

But then again I'm bais as the AC branch is short of LAC's and I'm going to Raleigh as an instructor and want to see as many AC's pass through the gate as possible!

Hope this helps.

Latest Threads