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Earning the necessary accreditation to become a traffic controller opens new job opportunities in a variety of fields.
Working in this field can be extremely rewarding. You get to help ensure the safety of workers, motorists, and pedestrians. However, to work as an authorised traffic controller, you need to meet several qualifications.
The job requires training and a few essential requirements. Here is what you should know about the process.
What Does a Traffic Controller Do?
A traffic controller directs the flow of vehicles and machinery on roads and other work sites. Working in this role involves more than just holding a stop/slow bat. The typical traffic controller duties and responsibilities include:
- Directing vehicular flow and pedestrians
- Setting up signage and safety barriers
- Applying a road management plan
- Cleaning and maintaining signs and equipment
The main responsibility of a traffic controller is to help maintain a safe environment for workers and pedestrians. They often use signs to control traffic, directing people on how to safely navigate around the job site.
Before work begins, the traffic controller and site supervisor implement traffic control plans. Depending on the type of work or services being completed, traffic controllers may also coordinate with inspectors, crew leads, foremen, managers, auditors, and regulatory officials.
Traffic control plans typically establish safe routes for workers and people passing by. The routes may be marked with signs, tape, or other barriers to minimise the risk of accidents.
After setting up signage and safety barriers, traffic controllers begin directing the flow of vehicles and pedestrians. They may use two-way radios, hand signals, and the stop/slow bat.
At the end of the workday, the traffic controller cleans and maintains signs and equipment. They account for all signs and barriers used during the day, clean away debris, and store the equipment in its designated storage area.
Along with these responsibilities, traffic controllers may assume additional roles. For example, you may only need to monitor the flow of traffic for a portion of the shift and perform standard job duties for the remainder of the workday.
Where Do Traffic Controllers Work?
These roles are most often needed in the construction industry. For example, traffic control technicians help divert vehicular flow from work areas, protecting the safety of workers and passing motorists or pedestrians. This typically involves the use of safety barriers, signs, and the stop/slow bat.
You may also need to follow strict dress standards. Controllers often wear hard hats, steel-toed boots, and reflective vests.
Managing vehicular flow is a serious responsibility. The primary duty of the controller is to ensure the safety of all workers and road users. The secondary duty is to minimise the impact of the project on the road network.
Depending on the job, you may work eight- to ten-hour shifts. During the shift, you may set up, maintain, and pull down road signs or barriers. You may also need to review and apply a traffic plan.
In some situations, you may work several kilometres away from other workers. This requires the use of appropriate communication devices to maintain contact. Learning how to complete these tasks requires nationally recognised training.
What Do I Need to Do to Become a Traffic Controller?
To become a traffic controller, you need to obtain a white card and complete the necessary traffic control training courses.
Those interested in obtaining work in this field need to be at least 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license. The white card is a prerequisite for taking the training course and a requirement for working on a construction site.
Traffic controllers also need to speak and read English and understand the road signs used in Australia.
The job also has physical requirements. You may need to lift relatively heavy objects when preparing a traffic management work site. You also need to lift 10 kilograms repeatedly and have the physical ability to complete your assigned tasks.
What Are the Traffic Controller Courses for Roads?
Besides the basic traffic controller qualifications, you need to complete the required training. OHS standards include two separate courses.
The first course is RIIWHS205D – Control Traffic with a Stop/Slow Bat. The second course is RIIWHS302D – Implement Traffic Management Plan. Note there are slight training variations in each state for example NSW. See here at NSW RMS for more info.
Labourers and general workers may need to complete the traffic control course. The traffic management course is often completed by supervisors. However, some organisations require workers to complete both courses to work as a traffic controller.
These courses are available through approved registered training organisations. Some registered training organisations, such as AlertForce, offer combination training that includes both RIIWHS205D and RIIWHS302D.
The RIIWHS205D traffic controller course covers the following:
- Planning and preparing traffic procedures
- Controlling traffic using stop/slow bats
- Operating communication devices
- Cleaning up a road work site
The program teaches you how to access and apply site traffic plans. This also includes obtaining and applying work instructions and safety requirements. The training also covers the different types of signage and devices used for road management.
Controlling transport flow includes the use of temporary signs and barriers. You also learn how to direct motorists and pedestrians correctly. As part of the training, you learn how to monitor vehicular flow and adjust the plan based on changing conditions.
Workers need to learn how to operate communication devices to maintain contact in the workplace. This involves choosing the right equipment for transmitting messages clearly and checking communications contact after a period of noncontact.
The final portion of the training covers the removal of signs and devices after completing a roadside task. Workers also discover the proper techniques for cleaning, checking, and maintaining tools and equipment.
Along with the RIIWHS205D standards, the program provides attendees with two other units of competency: RIIWHS201D – Work Safely and Follow PHS Policies and Procedures and RIICOM201D – Communicate in the Workplace.
The second course covers the steps needed to implement traffic control plans. In the meantime, the RIIWHS302D covers the steps for planning and preparing the road plan. You also learn how to set out, monitor, and close traffic guidance schemes.
Attendees complete practical training and theory. The theory portion of the program is completed in the classroom. Students then complete practical training in a simulated work site.
A traffic controller assessment test is completed after the training, requiring you to demonstrate your knowledge of the information covered during the program.
After you have successfully completed the program and the assessment, you obtain a statement of attainment. This allows you to work as a traffic controller. The statement remains valid for 90 days.
To obtain a licence, you need to become accredited. You may apply online or in person at a State Roads Authority. After approval, you receive accreditation, which lasts for three years.
To keep the accreditation current, you need to complete a renewal course. As with the initial training, the renewals need to come from a registered training organisation.
Where Can I Find Traffic Control Jobs?
After obtaining the necessary traffic controller accreditation, you may begin seeking employment in this field. Traffic controller job opportunities exist in a wide range of sectors, including:
- Heavy industries
- Capital work
The average traffic controller salary is $63,560 per year or $4903 per month. Workers typically earn about $27.90 per hour but average rates vary in different states and territories. For example, the average pay in Sydney is $32.04 per hour with some companies offering up to $50 per hour.
Your position, experience, and industry also affect your pay. An experienced traffic controller can expect to earn more while an entry-level position may pay less.
The available jobs may include full-time, part-time, or temporary positions. Many foreign visitors obtain the required accreditation to seek temporary employment with their working holiday visas.
You have many sources available for finding work in this field, including staffing agencies, online job directories, and personal contacts.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Traffic Controller?
Traffic controllers do not need to attend college, allowing them to quickly start working after finishing school. Over half of all workers in this field entered the workforce after completing high school. Fewer than 20% of traffic controllers earned a bachelor’s degree, advanced diploma, or postgraduate certificate.
Becoming a traffic controller requires the completion of several training courses. If you do not already have a white card, you must first complete white card training, which typically takes a single day.
If you work in construction, you should already have your white card. However, you still need to meet the requirements for the traffic controller position, which includes attending training at accredited training organisations.
RIIWHS302E covers how to implement traffic control plans and involves 1.5 days of on-site training and assessment. Depending on your schedule, you may gain the necessary qualifications within a few weeks.
Keep in mind that traffic control jobs are often filled by construction workers with work experience. Those who are just entering the construction industry may need to gain additional experience before applying for a traffic controller position.
Along with construction, traffic controllers are needed in the transport, infrastructure, and capital works sectors. Some entry-level positions in these sectors may not require experience.
Do You Need to Retake Training After Moving?
You should not need to retake training after moving if you continue to meet the requirements for maintaining your traffic controller license. After completing the traffic management courses, you receive a license that remains valid for three years.
The qualifications that you receive are not restricted to your home state or territory. All regions in Australia should recognise your accreditation and license.
For example, if you complete your training in Canberra and move to Brisbane, you do not need to take traffic control training in Brisbane.
To keep the license current, you need to complete renewal courses, refreshing your skills and knowledge. The renewal courses ensure that you still know how to use a stop/slow bat and implement traffic control plans.
What Is the Job Outlook Like for Traffic Controllers?
According to the latest statistics, the demand for traffic controllers has grown in recent years. The number of people working as traffic controllers increased by 2,300 between 2011 and 2016. Demand is expected to grow, especially in public administration and safety.
Over half of all traffic controllers work in public administration and safety. A little over 20% work in construction while less than 10% work in transport or warehousing.
The average base salary for a road traffic controller in Australia is about $29.50 per hour. However, pay varies from one region to the next. Perth is the highest-paying city for this career, with an average pay of $34.06 per hour. Sydney came second, with an average pay of $32.08 per hour.
Choosing this career may lead to part-time or full-time job opportunities. About 48% of traffic controllers work 45 hours or more per week.
The bottom line is that you need to complete the necessary road traffic controller course before seeking work in this field. In most cases, you need to obtain a ticket through the completion of RIIWHS205D. Some organisations also require workers to complete the traffic management course.
As traffic control technicians often work near or on construction sites, you may also need to obtain a white card.
Obtaining the necessary accreditation can open new career opportunities or higher pay, depending on the industry. The need for experienced specialists is expected to rise over the next decade. To begin working in this role, enrol in the required training program and complete your assessment.
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