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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 trainings which are scheduled to start in February and October every year.
Specialised training is required before you can join this team of professionals. We will pay for that training, and we’ll also pay you a monthly 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 usually start in February 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 simulator and 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.
Before you fill out the application form, please read the Notice of Competition for Student Air Traffic Controllers.
We will screen these forms. If you are suitable, you will receive an invitation to do an online reasoning ability test. If you have successfully passed this test, you will be invited to come to our Maastricht centre for tests and an interview.
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 ATCO.firstname.lastname@example.org.
No, we don’t make exceptions to the age limit.
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.
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:
The second phase tests how well you apply those skills in working conditions. You are assessed on your:
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.
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.
Around 50% of the intake 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.
Controllers are selected for a number of qualities. We look for people who are able to:
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.
You may apply once more but only after two years have lapsed. Retesting is only done once.
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).
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.
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.
You should have normal blood pressure and no disease of the cardiovascular system.
You should not have:
You should have no significant respiratory disease.
You should have no significant disease.
Alcohol consumption is strictly controlled and recreational drug use is forbidden for trainees and controllers.
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.
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".
For controllers working 24/7 shifts, there is a flat rate shift allowance of around €1,500.
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.
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 ATCO.email@example.com.
“The key factors to make the grade and become an operational ATCO remain: high quality and motivated ab initio students identified through effective recruitment and selection processes, high quality instruction from eager and knowledgeable instructors and high quality basic and rating courses which optimise learning through a mix of e-learning, computer-based exercises and high quality simulators... I am confident that this training regime will successfully produce the new generation of able and motivated ATCOs who are capable of meeting the demands of MUAC in the years to come.” Read full story
“I have been here now for 25 years and it is frightening how quickly the time has passed. There have been some tears on the way, of course, but becoming an ATCO was the proudest thing I have ever done and I am full of admiration for the guys who are still talking to aircraft. I see my role now as making sure the systems they use are built from the perspective of one who knows the business and always tries to keep them in mind.” Read full story
“...Controllers are bound by rules and procedures - right? We don’t ‘do creative’ - or do we? Yes, there are large parts of it that are procedure-driven. However, there are also some very critical times: when it is particularly busy, or an aircraft is experiencing an emergency, or a piece of equipment is not working properly – when there is no procedure that fits the situation exactly and no system that solves the problem, and this is when the creativity and the inventiveness of a controller shine through – this is when we may, quite rightly, see them as ‘artistic’.” Read full story
“Plan-Do-Check-Act within seconds/minutes” is what I liked best about being an ATCO. It allows you to have immediate results when the job is done. Go for it! It is almost definitely the best job in the world!” Read full story
“I was wandering around Bari one day when my attention was caught by an aviation magazine on a newsstand... I bought the very last copy, I sat down on a bench, and began to read it. There was an advertisement for student air traffic controllers. I decided to apply – and then saw that the expiry date was the next day at noon! There is always another train to catch, so to speak, and you just have to be clever enough to grasp opportunities as they appear. Learning to be an air traffic controller is complex. You will find that you fail at some things but succeed at others. A lot depends, of course, on how much effort you put in. Don’t give up too fast!” Read full story
“Air traffic control is an attitude: an attitude of trust in yourself and in your team and it goes with mutual respect. To those who would like to try to follow this professional path, I would say: be yourself, motivate yourself. The training is hard as, I believe, is other highly specialised training. It is a sacrifice when you do your training because you need to allocate 100% of your time to the training. You even dream (or have nightmares!) of ATC during your training! But when you like what you do, when it gives a sense to your life, then you are motivated and this motivation helps you not to give up.” Read full story
“One thing the South African Institute of Aviation Medicine never mastered was the Conclusions of my annual medical report. For 16 years the remark was the same: “Mr Pavlicevic is an air traffic controller. He is not pregnant.” Read full story
Before you fill out the application form, please read the Notice of Competition for Student Air Traffic Controllers.