Basics of ATC hiring

Bernoulli Fan

Controller
Hello all,

I'm currently a flight instructor, but I'm interested in finding more out about a career in ATC. Maybe I don't know where to look, but faa.gov doesn't seem to have much in the way of a "This is how to become an air traffic controller" section.

I've read quite a few threads on here, but most are beyond my understanding: PEPC, OTS, CTI, ATSAT -- you guys have more acronyms than pilots do!

Ok, so I know from talking to the guys in the KSMO tower that the FAA is hiring off the street. What is the deal with contract towers vs...I don't know what the opposite is? I see you select geographical preferences after the test -- are there certain areas of the country that are known to be more in need than others? I'd be interested in the Boston area.

Is there a website (or thread here that I missed) that lays out the steps to become a controller? I'm just looking for basics, like here's where to go to apply, this is what the ATSAT is, and so forth. Thanks for any input.
 

nathanw

New Member
There's quite a bit of info on this site. You want Path 2.

They're currently opening off-the-street (those who follow path 2 from above) applications every month. Usually about halfway through the month or so they'll post the new announcement. Check the job posting site often (jobs.faa.gov).
 

chichi

New Member
I'll try to cover everything you've asked...

PEPC - Pre-Employment Processing Center - interview, medical, psych, security paperwork, etc. all in a one day event... some are invited to attend a PEPC, some are not... if you don't go the PEPC route, you have to do all those things on your own schedule, usually dragged out over a month or two

OTS - Off the Street - one with no prior ATC experience

CTI - Collegiate Training Initiative - enroll in an ATC CTI program at a participating college... unless you're just starting college, it's basically pointless (in my opinion) since the CTI program covers what the Basics classes at the academy will teach you and you'll be paid to be at the academy

AT-SAT - Air Traffic Selection and Training - the first step after applying... check out the sticky thread to find a ton of information about it


Contract towers vs. FAA towers vs. military towers (or are military also considered contract :confused: ...someone will fix that) - when you submit an application to the FAA announcements, you'll be considered for FAA facilities only

Someone else can probably give you more information on staffing in the Boston area.

There is not an announcement up at the moment that you can apply to, but you can probably expect one to open within the month since that's how it seems it'll be going for a while.


Process:
1 - Apply
2 - AT-SAT
3 - Geographic preferences
4 - Referral lists
5 - PEPC invites (or receive paperwork to go non-PEPC route)
6 - Attend PEPC (or take care of things on your own and add a month or so to the process), Tentative Offer Letter, OKC class date
7 - Final Offer Letter
8 - OKC
9 - Continue training at facility


Hope I got it all in there... welcome and good luck :)
 

Johnsc81

New Member
More info, please. Any in mind? I'm assuming not Nellis...
Almost all military facilities have both Civilian and Military Controllers in them.

As for the civilians they are typically hired off the street by the DoD and trained by the DoD, and Payed by the DoD.

Here is what is open rightn now. USAjobs And here is specifically for Nellis.
 

HiDef

New Member
Almost all military facilities have both Civilian and Military Controllers in them.

As for the civilians they are typically hired off the street by the DoD and trained by the DoD, and Payed by the DoD.

Here is what is open rightn now. USAjobs And here is specifically for Nellis.
Lets clarify this whole DOD hires off the street thing. Your chance of getting hired DOD off the street WITH previous ATC experience is extremely difficult. The hiring is based on a points system with disabled military getting the highest preference for hiring. It also doesn't hurt if you previously worked at the facility you're applying to while you were in the military or were a Chief in the AF (E-9, highest enlisted rank). I would bet that 95% of the DOD controllers in military towers/rapcons across the US were prior military air traffic controllers. These job are highly competative because they pay well and the good 'ole boy system is very well still in effect. I'd say your chance of getting a DOD job with zero ATC experience is impossible.

Here s the first line of the "must have qualifications" part: One (1) year specialized experience in a military or civilian air traffic facility that demonstrated possession of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform the level of work of the specialization for which application is made.

HD
 

venividibitchy

New Member
Lets clarify this whole DOD hires off the street thing. Your chance of getting hired DOD off the street WITH previous ATC experience is extremely difficult. The hiring is based on a points system with disabled military getting the highest preference for hiring. It also doesn't hurt if you previously worked at the facility you're applying to while you were in the military or were a Chief in the AF (E-9, highest enlisted rank). I would bet that 95% of the DOD controllers in military towers/rapcons across the US were prior military air traffic controllers. These job are highly competative because they pay well and the good 'ole boy system is very well still in effect. I'd say your chance of getting a DOD job with zero ATC experience is impossible.

Here s the first line of the "must have qualifications" part: One (1) year specialized experience in a military or civilian air traffic facility that demonstrated possession of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform the level of work of the specialization for which application is made.

HD
Thanks for the info. That's hardly "OTS"...

There isn't one listing open that doesn't require a year or more of civilian/military ATC experience. Oh, well.
 

justme62

New Member
Lets clarify this whole DOD hires off the street thing. Your chance of getting hired DOD off the street WITH previous ATC experience is extremely difficult. The hiring is based on a points system with disabled military getting the highest preference for hiring. It also doesn't hurt if you previously worked at the facility you're applying to while you were in the military or were a Chief in the AF (E-9, highest enlisted rank). I would bet that 95% of the DOD controllers in military towers/rapcons across the US were prior military air traffic controllers. These job are highly competative because they pay well and the good 'ole boy system is very well still in effect. I'd say your chance of getting a DOD job with zero ATC experience is impossible.


HD
Yep. The people I've known to get hired into the DoD tower that was at the Army post I was stationed at... were other controllers in my same unit that were at one point deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, and getting out of the military. All of them were E5's and E6's.
 

Bernoulli Fan

Controller
Thanks for the help, guys. Now that nathanw pointed out the correct FAA website, I can answer most of my own questions.

From the timelines posted in a lot of people's signatures, it looks like about four to six months from application to being placed in a tower/ARTCC. Anyone have a significantly shorter experience?
 

Prino

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the help, guys. Now that nathanw pointed out the correct FAA website, I can answer most of my own questions.

From the timelines posted in a lot of people's signatures, it looks like about four to six months from application to being placed in a tower/ARTCC. Anyone have a significantly shorter experience?
i think 4-6 months is a VERY rare occurence....for me, i applied in august/sept (ish) of 07. then i didnt even hear anything till late feb/early march (for the ATSAT) then from there the selection panel meets within the next month or so and go over all the applicants and applications and select them based on where they applied (but ultimately, where they need people). sometime after that you will get invited to a PEPC, which is a "streamlined" hiring process which takes care of everything, interview, psych test, medical (doesnt matter if you already have a current medical), security, drug test, and you will get a TENTATIVE offer letter (TOL) with a TENTATIVE class date. this means that if all your stuff pass passes then you are hired..when that happens you will get a FINAL offer letter (FOL) with a FIRM class date, meainging you will have POSITIVE space in a class. at this point you should probably start seriously looking for a place to stay

like i said, i applied back in august/sept of 07 and all im waiting on is a FOL from the FAA...which roughly puts me into training late july, to mid august....so i wouldnt report to a facility till oct ish or november.


once everything started rolling (POST ATSAT) it took about a month between each step..once you get to OKC if you are OTS (off the street) you will have to take a 5 week basics course which is pretty easy if you have any sort of aviation background they go over stuff like...this is an airplane, this is what airspace is....ect. at the end there IS a PASS/FAIL test. from there, you go to your option (TERMINAL/TRACON/ENROUTE) Terminal will be another 8 weeks of training and is PASS/FAIL. Enroute, i believe is 12 weeks and is PASS/FAIL, and Tracon (RADAR) is about 4 weeks long and is NOT PASS/FAIL. some facilities are known as up/down. this means they have both tower and tracon. if you go to an up/down you will do terminal...then report to your facility, check out in clearance delivery, ground, then local...sometime after you are checked out in the tower you will go back to OKC and go through radar training, at which point you will report back to your facility and begin to check out in radar and on your way to CPC (certified professional controller).....i hope ive covered most of the process....if there are any holes dont hesitate to ask.
 

Philip

New Member
PEPC - Pre-Employment Processing Center - interview, medical, psych, security paperwork, etc. all in a one day event... some are invited to attend a PEPC, some are not... if you don't go the PEPC route, you have to do all those things on your own schedule, usually dragged out over a month or two
they actually pronounce it PEPC too, like pepsi. I couldn't believe it. You ask for the pree employment processing and they look at you like you've grown a third arm.
 

Prino

Well-Known Member
they actually pronounce it PEPC too, like pepsi. I couldn't believe it. You ask for the pree employment processing and they look at you like you've grown a third arm.
i feel like ive got a 3rd arm when i say pepc (pepsi)....to avoid confusion when explaining the process to people i just say pre-employment processing center.
 

Prino

Well-Known Member
What is the deal with contract towers vs...I don't know what the opposite is? I see you select geographical preferences after the test -- are there certain areas of the country that are known to be more in need than others? I'd be interested in the Boston area.

Is there a website (or thread here that I missed) that lays out the steps to become a controller? I'm just looking for basics, like here's where to go to apply, this is what the ATSAT is, and so forth. Thanks for any input.

contract towers are less busy towers that the FAA has contracted out to companies like RVA (robinson aviation) which is the same company that administers the ATSAT. you generally cant get a slot in a contract tower unless you were military, or have/had a CTO (certified tower operator) to get a CTO you have to take written, as well as have a minimum of 6 months on the job training i.e. have to have worked live traffic. there is really no benefit to working a contract tower vs FAA tower...unless you are in Dubai, or Afghanistan...but thats another post...

when looking for an application you go to the faa website, then in the top right corner look for the jobs link. from there it details how to look for an air traffic job. the application you should be concerned with will say "PUB" in them, and be open to ALL sources. the others such as VRA are strictly for military. as far as geographical preferences, you just pick somewhere youd like to live and work traffic. many suggest starting at somewhere slow (no higher than a level 9 facility)...if you go somewhere slow and get checked out, you can always bid to other facilities. however, if you wash out then youre on your own and cant bid on another facility.

where do they need people?? EVERYWHERE....just dont pick somewhere you arent 100% willing to move to. its a general pain in the rear to try to get switched facilities.
 

Jmpir117

New Member
Hey Folks can someone help me out and i hope not to be discouraged I scored a 80.1% on the AT-SAT and i live in the ny area close to NY Tracon what are my chances of being called for the rest of the process? Im a OTS applicant and have my pilots license? Any help is welcomed
 

Prino

Well-Known Member
Hey Folks can someone help me out and i hope not to be discouraged I scored a 80.1% on the AT-SAT and i live in the ny area close to NY Tracon what are my chances of being called for the rest of the process? Im a OTS applicant and have my pilots license? Any help is welcomed
not good
 

sandman9r

Well-Known Member
Hey Folks can someone help me out and i hope not to be discouraged I scored a 80.1% on the AT-SAT and i live in the ny area close to NY Tracon what are my chances of being called for the rest of the process? Im a OTS applicant and have my pilots license? Any help is welcomed
You scored better than me (72) and I haven't been called for NY/NJ. It makes so much sense for us newbies to pick "no name brand" states to start out.

I regret not picking Puerto Rico. :(
 

KaiRick

New Member
Hey
So my fiance applied OTS and took the AT-SAT in Holtsville on July 1st. He's supposed to be hearing back from them this week. Assuming he got at least the minimum required score, how long on average would they give him before he has to report to OKC?

I think I'm just looking for a timeline. What's supposed to happen between now and OKC, how long he'll be in training, does he need to set up housing before he gets down there, all that good stuff.




The Dude Abides...
 

Prino

Well-Known Member
Hey
So my fiance applied OTS and took the AT-SAT in Holtsville on July 1st. He's supposed to be hearing back from them this week. Assuming he got at least the minimum required score, how long on average would they give him before he has to report to OKC?

I think I'm just looking for a timeline. What's supposed to happen between now and OKC, how long he'll be in training, does he need to set up housing before he gets down there, all that good stuff.




The Dude Abides...
go back and read some of my earlier posts in this thread...everything is detailed in there....if you have any other questions after you read it let me know
 

venividibitchy

New Member
Hey
So my fiance applied OTS and took the AT-SAT in Holtsville on July 1st. He's supposed to be hearing back from them this week. Assuming he got at least the minimum required score, how long on average would they give him before he has to report to OKC?

I think I'm just looking for a timeline. What's supposed to happen between now and OKC, how long he'll be in training, does he need to set up housing before he gets down there, all that good stuff.
He has to get selected first. A strong test score is no guarantee.
 
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