Control the Flow: How to Become a Traffic Controller in Queensland

Anyone who’s spent any length of time in Queensland knows that motorists face a daily barrage of construction work on our roads, usually for inordinate amounts of time. If you have thought about taking advantage of the roadworks boom in this state, look no further. We’ve compiled a detailed guide taking you through the process of how to become a licenced traffic controller.

Traffic controllers in Queensland are in hot demand – due to the seemingly endless roadworks boom arising from several key infrastructure projects such as the Inner Northern Busway and the Airport Link Tunnel, and they get paid more than you might expect – wages for casual traffic controllers are between $20.33 and $22.50 per hour depending on experience level, with overtime, night shift and weekend loading on top of that as well. You shouldn’t have too much problem getting a job, even if you’ve got no experience in the field, as the turnover rate is relatively high and such is the frequency of roadworks projects that workers are generally always needed.

Be forewarned, though – the work is not always easy; you’ll often have to work many consecutive hours without so much as a toilet break if things get extremely busy – some controllers report working up to 11 hours straight with no real break, all while inhaling tar and car fumes and keeping alert and vigilant for passing traffic.

It won’t always be that bad, however, with the typical shift at about 8 hours and conditions being favourable when compared to hard labour such as mining or construction work, for example. Keep in mind, however, that due to the around the clock nature of roadworks, you’ll often be required to work night shifts, and be available at very short notice any time of the day or night. If you’re prepared for that, then traffic control might be for you.

You should also expect an adjustment period as you get used to the way traffic control crews operate. Safety in traffic control is taken extremely seriously (for obvious reasons) and you’ll need to learn how to keep alert for potential hazards to yourself, your co-workers and others at all times. Potential hazards include not only nearby traffic but also motorists approaching at high speeds, nearby pedestrians, and factors affecting visibility such as lack of light or excess glare, as well as unauthorised people entering the traffic control zone.

You’ll also need to become good at dealing with unforeseen circumstances and particularly dealing with noncompliant drivers. Traffic control sometimes requires a tough skin as drivers might try to plead with you to let them pass or get agitated at having to wait a long time, and it’s imperative to ensure that the traffic rules are followed at all times despite driver requests.

To get started on the road to becoming a traffic controller, you’ll need to obtain accreditation through the Queensland State Government. This involves completing an approved traffic controller course. Note that you’ll need to have held a valid driver’s licence (Australian or foreign) for a continuous 12 month period any time in the last 5 years to be eligible to be a licenced traffic controller.

There are a number of providers around that offer traffic control training courses; I have no relationship with any of these providers and am just listing in a random order – but they all offer the relevant courses for you to qualify for a Traffic Controller Licence. Take a look at each of them and pick whichever one is closest to you, and/or the cheapest. While exact course duration and curriculum may vary, all courses will generally have a compulsory 8 hour in-classroom theory component as well as a 20 hour vocational placement with a traffic control provider.

Traffic Control Course Providers in QLD
Cost for Basic Course ($)
Gold Coast
Seventeen Mile Rocks

Once you’ve completed the relevant course, you’ll need to complete a Traffic Controller Accreditation Scheme Application Form, available from the Queensland Government’s website, in which you set out any criminal history, medical history and list your traffic control qualifications.

Then it’s just a matter of lodging the application, along with a fee of $192.10 (for 3 years) to the nearest Department of Transport and Main Roads customer service office.
When you’re looking for your first traffic control job, don’t just revert to Seek straight away.

While it’s true you can find decent jobs on Seek, a lot of the advertised jobs you’ll find are simply attempts by recruitment and labour hire companies to get more names on their books – they don’t always necessarily have any work going for inexperienced people.

A good option is to instead apply directly to traffic management companies, such as Traffex and Evolution, who usually will be desperate for staff and will take both inexperienced and experienced people. Rates may vary among companies, but the standard award rates are between the $20-$22 per hour mark, with overtime, weekend and night loading.

Good luck if you choose traffic control as a career path, and leave your comments here if you have any further tips on how to get into the industry or advice for newcomers.

photo credit: Steve Rhodes via photopin cc

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