Written by swinte00   

Disclaimer
**This is a LONG process, and the timelines in this post are not accurate for everyone. Sometimes things get delayed. If you have reason to suspect that your e-mail for your PEPC invite got lost in cyberspace, contact Aviation Careers. It's happened before, and there is no guarantee that it will not happen to you.**

How to Apply
The application process starts on the ASAP website. You will go to https://jobs.faa.gov/asap/ and create an account. Fill out all the requested information and make sure it is all correct. PUBNAT announcements will be listed on the Online Jobs tab.

Let me stress this point:
You cannot apply for a job as an Air Traffic Control Specialist with no aviation experience unless the opening has the word PUBNAT in it.

A PUBNAT opening will look like this:
Announcement Number: AAC-AMH-08-PUBNAT4-09989
Job Title: Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee
Duty Location(s): Throughout The Nation, United States
OR
Duty Location(s): Hawaii/Alaska/Guam/etc.

Any other type of opening will look like this (or similar):
AAC-AMH-09-CTI-12655

The Announcement Number will vary. Take time to make sure all of your information is correct. There have been people who have been disqualified from announcements because of typos and not choosing the correct answers on the application.

The application WILL ask for your geographic preferences (10 of them, I believe). In the past, these have been somewhat ignored, because after the announcement closes and you take the AT-SAT, you get a geographic preferences e-mail. This leads me to my next point.

The AT-SAT Process
After the announcement closes, in the timespan of 4 to 8 weeks, you will receive an AT-SAT invitation to go to one of the AT-SAT testing locations. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to make sure you check your e-mail and make sure you schedule a time to take the AT-SAT. If you do not, you will not be considered for the position. ALL OTS AND CTI applicants take the AT-SAT. Most CTI schools will administer the test approximately 6 months prior to graduation from your CTI program.

What does the AT-SAT Include\How do I study?
Read these threads (YES! ALL OF THEM!)
Reflections and Advice on the AT-SAT 
**EVERYTHING*** you wanted to know about the AT-SAT

If those do not answer your questions, check all of the PUBNAT threads. It takes a little time, but trust me--you have plenty of it if you're serious about becoming an Air Traffic Controller

Ok, so I took the AT-SAT and got XX score on it. What now?
You wait for the news as to whether you have made it on a referral list. There are two types of scores

Well-Qualified: > 85
Qualified: < 85

Speculation has it that ALL BUT TWO Well-Qualified applicants have to be reviewed before any Qualified applicants are looked at or even considered. I don't know how true this is, but it seems failry accurate. Don't bash me saying that "I know so and so who scored Q and is checked out at ZAB/ZOA/ZNY/MIA/ZTL/N90/D10/etc." Keep checking the ASAP website (the one I mentioned earlier) to see if you get the message that your name is on the referral list or "another applicant has been selected for this position." From here there are two roads:

I was included on the referral list. What next?
You wait for the panels to meet and decide whether or not you are going to be selected for a facility. This process can take some time. Once you have been selected by the panels, you will receive an invitation to go through a PEPC (Pre-Employment Processing Center) which is the expedited route to getting your medical and security clearances OR you can go the traditional route. The difference is that if you go the traditional route, you will interview at a local facility (An ARTCC if you are En-Route or a Tower/TRACON if you are selected for a Terminal position).

I got a Geographic Preferences E-mail. Which facilities need people??
There is no sure way to tell whether or not a facility needs people. Call facilities you are interested in working at and ask to speak with the Facility Manager. Ask them about staffing, ASK FOR A TOUR OF THE FACILITY. Get your name out there and let them know that you will be applying off-the-streets. It may help or it may not. Even if it doesn't and you get a tour, at least you got to see all the cool stuff that goes on, right?

For your best bet at being selected, choose BOTH Terminal and En-Route. Choose a state with BOTH types of facilities (IL, FL, GA, WA, CA, NY, MA, TX, TN, WA, MI, KS, UT, NM)

I was NOT included on the referral list. Now what?
Don't give up hope! Wait for the next PUBNAT announcement, or enroll in an accredited CTI school and take that route. Make sure you have plenty of time to get the degree. The FAA does not hire air traffic controllers past the age of 31.

Now we move on to where the waiting gets painful...

SWEET! I got a PEPC invite! What should I wear/bring/eat?
Prior to attending the PEPC, you will receive an e-mail asking you to fill out the e-QIP. This is the electronic version of the SF-85/86 for Public Trust Positions.
Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions (SF85)


Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF86)

These forms are the paper version of what you will be filling out. The SF85 is for Terminal applicants. The SF86 is for En-Route applicants.

Be sure you get this filled out. Upon submitting the questionairre, it authorizes the government to begin your security investigation. In the case of a PEPC applicant, the security investigation does not begin until AFTER you have finished your PEPC and received your TOL.

The government WILL contact the people you list on these forms, INCLUDING your current employer. How you handle this with your current employer is up to you. I didn't tell mine, and they didn't ask me about it until I turned in my resignation. Your situation may be different.

Be honest on your e-QIP. If you lie, the government WILL find out.

Dress to impress (like you REALLY want the job). Bring a snack, you will be at the PEPC for the better part of a day with NO lunch break. They offer candies and water at just about every station, but by the time I left I was STARVING!

The following portions of this post outline what will happen at a PEPC. I cannot elaborate on the traditional route as I did not take this path to get my clearances.

Medical
This DOES include your MMPI-2 results. It's a 567 questoin test that you CANNOT beat. So don't try. It also includes a vision exam, hearing exam, blood pressure exam, EKG, drug test, and a brief physical. Bring ALL medical records you have. Nothing will hold back your full clearance more than incomplete medical information or a failed MMPI-2. Think I'm kidding? Just look at the Failed MMPI at PEPC thread:

Failed MMPI at PEPC?

Again, bring all of your medical records, current prescriptions, documentation from any surgeries (no matter how minor) or visits to a healthcare professional or optometrist. Wear your glasses/contacts, and bring your prescription with you.

Security
They will fingerprint you. They will contact your references, friends, previous employers, and other people who know you. Put down ANYTHING you have been convicted for (Misdemeanor, no matter how small, Felonies (God forbid you have any), and even traffic citations over $150.) If you have any of those, bring paperwork documenting EVERYTHING. Be completely honest.

There is also a credit check. Unless you have hundreds of thousands of extremely past-due debt, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. If you don't have perfect credit, or you messed up on a loan/car payment/mortgage, bring documentation showing that you have been taking the proper steps to rectify the situation. For most people, this goes without a hitch. I haven't seen anyone on these forums who has been denied a security clearance because of their credit check.

In summary, be honest and bring any and all paperwork you have.

The Interview
The interview is brief and to the point. You will be asked general questions about problem solving, teamwork, and high-pressure environments. If you don't know or don't have an answer, SAY SO. The interviewer will understand and help you through the process. Want to know what questions are on the interview? Check out this link:

PEPC Interview Questions Here

The MMPI-2
Some of the questions are silly. Don't answer them the way you "think" they want you to answer them. Some questions are tricky and seem re-worded from previous questions. They do that by design. If you're honest, you have nothing to worry about.

The TOL
After your interview, you meet with HR and you receive your TOL (Tentative Offer Letter). This letter states which facility you will be going to if you pass all of your clearances as well as your pay. THIS IS NOT A GUARANTEE OF EMPLOYMENT, but a rather promising piece of paper. If you've made it this far, you only have to worry about clearances. If you get those, you're set.

Questions about your pay or shift work? Check out these links:
FAA Shift Work and Schedules
ATC Students FAQ (from the FAA)
Student Services - Housing / Per Diem
2009 ATC Pay Bands / Locality Rates / Facility Levels
Acronyms and Glossary of Terms!


The Wait...
After your PEPC, you have to wait. You need to be patient. Don't pester your HR representative every other day asking about your clearances and a class date. As the adage goes, "no news is good news." If you go 10 to 12 weeks with no news, drop HR an email just to stay in touch. Don't be pushy, and don't complain that the process is taking too long. They are busy people and getting all of your clearances WILL take time. Just be patient. If you have a TOL, your spot in line is reserved. You just have to wait your turn.

The Class Date/FOL
After your LONG and seemingly never-ending wait for the good news, your HR representative will call you to give you the good news. How does xx of (insert month) sound for a class date? Your answer should be PUT ME IN! Don't give them the runaround unless you can afford to wait even longer. There are hundreds of others who would jump at that opportunity. After you get verbal confirmation on a class date, you get to wait some more. Sometimes one week, sometimes three months before you get a FOL. If you get a verbal confirmation, again, DO NOT PESTER HR ABOUT YOUR FOL. It's coming, you just have to wait for them to get around to you.

Finally, this is a LONG process. It takes lots of time. Don't put your house on the market when you get your AT-SAT score. Don't tell your friends you are going to be an ATC until you have your FOL. Don't give your dog onions (it's bad for them).

I think I have covered just about everything I have wanted to say for a while, but if there's something I forgot, please add it to this thread and I'll edit the post to include it. For heaven's sake, I even included links!!! I did all the searching for you! Now just go READ!

I hope this helps all of you with questions about the hiring process!

Good luck!