Do you want to become an air traffic controller?

If you’re passionate about aviation and have great spatial skills, we can offer you an exciting opportunity to train as an air traffic controller, with the prospect of a rewarding career in a dynamic organisation to follow.

We are looking for people to join our multinational team of air traffic controllers at our Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre in the Netherlands.

A selection procedure is currently underway to find suitable candidates for the student air traffic controller training which is scheduled to start in March 2017.

Specialised training is required before you can join this team of professionals. For the right candidates, we will pay for that training – and we’ll pay you an allowance while you learn.

Being safety critical, the job carries a high level of responsibility, so the selection procedure is rigorous and the training is intensely challenging. But if you succeed, you will have an enormously rewarding and interesting career!

Air traffic control is used to separate aircraft safely – in the sky as they fly and at the airports where they land and take off again.

Air traffic controllers give instructions, advice and information to pilots so that they can fly safely, efficiently and quickly. Controllers keep track of flights by using radar and the latest computer systems.

Air traffic controllers need to be able to deal with unexpected events – changes in weather, unscheduled traffic, emergency situations.

Air traffic controllers can work at airports – in the airport tower overlooking the runways or on approach as they stream aircraft to arrive – or at en route centres.

Through this selection, we are looking for controllers to work at our en route centre.

Training to be an air traffic controller takes between two and a half and three years.

Training courses start in March and October each year; they include in-depth theoretical classes, training on simulators and intensive on-the-job training at the Maastricht centre.

The theoretical part of the training is done at an aviation university in Toulouse; classes are in English. We will pay for this training and for your accommodation at the university. You will receive an allowance while you study.

If you pass the theoretical examinations, you will go to the Maastricht centre for the on-the-job training. When at the Maastricht centre, you will need to find and pay for your own accommodation – but we will help you look for a suitable place to stay.

Be younger than 25 on 1 October 2017
Be medically fit
Have a good command of English
Be a national of one of our Member States
Not have failed similar training elsewhere
Be free from any military service obligation at the start of your training
Have completed your secondary education at an advanced level, with mathematics as one of your subjects

Before you fill out the application form, please read the Notice of Competition for Student Air Traffic Controllers, dated January 2016.

We will screen these forms. If you are suitable, you will be invited to come to our Maastricht centre for tests and interviews.

If you pass these tests, you will undergo a thorough medical examination.

If everything is satisfactory, you will be invited to sign a contract to follow the training courses and to work for EUROCONTROL as an air traffic controller for at least four years.

You will need to provide supporting documents - your school-leaving certificate, for example - as well as security clearance from your national security authority.

For questions about the recruitment procedure, please email masuac.students@eurocontrol.int.

Frequently asked Questions

Can I be older than 25?

No, we don’t make exceptions to the age limit.

How can I prepare for the tests?

Although knowledge of aviation is an advantage, it is not essential.

You can do some research on air traffic control; learn more about what EUROCONTROL does and what happens at the Maastricht centre. Familiarise yourself with the challenges and demands of the en route controller’s job. Read aviation magazines. The more you understand about the job you are applying for, the more comfortable you will feel.

However, it isn’t really possible to practice for the spatial orientation and psychometric tests beforehand. What matters more is your attitude: it is best to be positive, determined, open.

What do the selection tests involve?

The selection procedure is divided into several phases. You have to pass each phase before going on to the next one.

The first phase measures your basic skills in:

  • English
  • mental arithmetic
  • decision-making
  • logical reasoning
  • working memory
  • visual perception
  • attention
  • spatial orientation

The second phase tests how well you apply those skills in working conditions. You are assessed on your:

  • multi-tasking ability
  • trainability
  • collaboration
  • stress management

You are also given a personality questionnaire to complete.

After this, you are interviewed by active controllers, psychologists, training and human resources experts. The interview panel will explore your motivation in becoming an air traffic controller. They will look at your background, education, work experience (if any) and your general career expectations.

Finally, they will assess your overall suitability for the career, weighing up your motivation, the degree to which you cooperate, your stress resistance and your level of interactive proficiency.

If you pass these phases successfully, you will undergo a medical examination.

How many candidates pass the tests?

The selection rate of a student controller recruitment campaign is about 6%. That means, for every hundred who are tested, six of them will meet our standards.

This might sound discouraging, but we do test most applicants who pass the basic requirements because, for us, spatial orientation skills, a good memory and resistance to stress are the most important features we look for – and we can only find out how good yours are by testing them.

How many students qualify after training?

Around 40% of the intake – which is usually about 24 – will finally qualify as air traffic controllers. This is not unusual: air traffic control is very demanding and we have to be certain that the people who qualify are really up to doing the work.

It is important to know that a student with unsatisfactory results can be dismissed at any stage. Students who are asked to leave do not have to reimburse any costs or money that they have been given.

But don’t let this put you off applying: other jobs and examinations are also difficult. You should try to make sure that you use the feedback – and criticism! – that you are given during your training to improve your performance overall. Keep your end goal in mind and be determined to succeed.

Is it really stressful, being an air traffic controller?

Controllers are selected for a number of qualities. We look for people who are able to:

  • stay calm under pressure;
  • make decisions while processing different types of information;
  • update a mental spatial picture;
  • solve problems.

These abilities are tested to see if you have them to begin with - and they are developed and extended with rigorous training. You will be fully trained to cope with all aspects of your job.

Our controllers at Maastricht said in a recent survey that they feel unafraid of their work; they are not nervous about problems they encounter; they are able to relax when they need to. You will always be supported by colleagues who deal with the same issues and who will be able to help you confront them. Your training will enable you to handle the problems you will face.

I applied before but failed the tests. Can I apply again?

You may apply once more but only after two years have lapsed. Retesting is only done once.

What does the medical examination involve?

It is very important that controllers are fit enough to do their work so the medical examination is a vital element of the testing procedure. If you become an air traffic controller, you will undergo medical examinations throughout your career.

You will need to obtain the following document (pdf).

Hearing

There should be no hearing loss in either ear, when tested separately, of more than 20 dB (HL) at any of the frequencies 500, 1,000 and 2,000 Hz, or of more than 35 dB (HL) at 3,000 Hz.

Vision

You must have normal colour vision and your visual acuity must be 6/9 or better in each eye separately and 6/6 together.

You may use corrective lenses but there are limits to the amount of correction required. Correction shall not exceed + 5 or – 6 dioptres equivalent spherical error in each eye.

Cylindrical correction shall not exceed 2 dioptres in each eye.

If you have had any form of eye surgery, including laser visual correction, then you are, in principle, disqualified. However, if after extensive ophthalmological testing, the Authorised Medical Supervisor is satisfied, then you may be assessed as fit, providing that before surgery your vision was between +5 and -6 dioptres.

Cardiovascular

You should have normal blood pressure and no disease of the cardiovascular system.

Neurological system

You should not have:

  • a risk of cerebral dysfunction
  • epilepsy (although ten years without a seizure and without medication may be accepted)
  • any progressive disease of the nervous system.
Respiratory system

You should have no significant respiratory disease.

Urinary system and gastro-intestinal tract

You should have no significant disease.

Drugs and alcohol

Alcohol consumption is strictly controlled and recreational drug use is forbidden for trainees and controllers.

What hours does a controller work?

Air traffic control is 24/7, 365 days of the year, so controllers work in shifts.

Generally, controllers work four eight-hour shifts, followed by two rest days. As a rule, controllers work for one and a half hours at a time, with a half hour break.

There are many different shifts with staggered starting times to allow for efficient planning. If you need time off for personal reasons, requests can be considered when duties are assigned.

What is the salary like?

Air traffic controllers have responsible and demanding work and the salary is commensurate.

You will have a basic salary with additions, depending on your circumstances. If you are married or have a child, you will receive a household allowance. You are given a child’s allowance for each child and, if your children are at school or university, an education allowance.

Expatriates are given an allowance of an extra 16% of their basic salary: this allowance is not paid to trainees.

Deductions for your pension scheme (10% - but this is not applied during your training) as well as for your membership of EUROCONTROL’s medical insurance (1.6%) are made from your salary.

Once you have qualified and are licensed as an air traffic controller, you will begin working at the Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre as an "advanced trainee air traffic controller" with a single sector validation. After further validation, you will be promoted to "air traffic controller".

Monthly net salary for single nationals:
  • Advanced trainee air traffic controller - around €3,200
  • Air traffic controller - around €3,750
Monthly net salary for single expatriates:
  • Advanced trainee air traffic controller – around €3,800
  • Air traffic controller – around €4,500

For controllers working 24/7 shifts, there is a flat rate shift allowance of around €1,500.

Which language is spoken?

English is the internationally accepted language of air traffic control.

Your training will be done in English and all tests are in English. When you are an air traffic controller, your working language will be English.

You will need proficiency in English in order to do the selection tests.

Knowledge of Dutch, German and French will help you integrate into the communities in Maastricht.

I submitted my application. What happens next?

We will screen your application. If you are suitable, you will be invited to come to our Maastricht centre for tests and interviews. For questions about your application, please email masuac.students@eurocontrol.int.

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