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| | |-+  Yea, the common 'what do I do to become an ATC' thread
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Author Topic: Yea, the common 'what do I do to become an ATC' thread  (Read 7752 times)
darkdrifter04
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« on: January 28, 2009, 09:05:24 PM »

First lemme just say that i'm COMPLETELY clueless about ATC stuff and am looking into it because it just sounds interesting so far and fun too, and i'm only 16  grin

So I read some threads on here and read the links from the actual NATCA site. Okay, so they list like 14 schools that will mostlikely train you to become a school, which is right here:
http://www.natca.org/about/howatc.msp

I was wondering, do you HAVE to go to these schools to become an ATC? I want to see what type of material you have to learn to become an ATC, like I want to go to UC Irvine for college (I don't know if they offer courses but pretend they do), and say I take courses to major in becoming an ATC, but I don't like it, then at least I can switch majors you know? (What types of courses are you required to take, i''m gonna email Irvine and see if they have them lol) Oh yea, and I don't want to go to the Air Force or any military things to become one either, it sounds fun but too dangerous and my parents would never let me.

Alright, lastly is there any like free online stuff that teaches terminology of ATC stuff? I'm tuning into some of the live feeds and understand nothing...other than like 'your clear to take off' LOL.

Thanks everyone  smiley
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atcman23
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2009, 07:55:24 PM »

Well it's good to start looking early; the more you understand and know now, the easier it is later on.

There are now close to 30 schools that offer the ATC-CTI program. See: http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_units/acquisition/aja51/cti/AT-CTI_Schools.cfm

You do NOT have to go to school to become a controller.  The FAA accepts applications off of the street.  However, THOUSANDS apply to the application that comes out maybe 2-3 times per year.  Personally, it's not the best way in.  It's not impossible, but it's not the best.  The process is long, drawn out and you'll spend an extra month in Oklahoma City, OK for training if they select you.

You're young.  I strongly recommend a CTI school.  There are almost 30 to choose from and some of the major schools offer a 4-year program.  If you're unsure about the major when you get there, those 4-year schools offer other majors and you'll have already completed some of your electives. You can always switch majors almost no matter where you go (I did).  I went to a CTI school (Community College of Beaver County www.ccbc.edu), which is one of the best ATC-CTI schools in the country and the only one that has a REAL air traffic control tower that you get to control real aircraft in.  I would have never applied for the job if I didn't attend this school.  The FAA just offered me Cleveland Tower, too.  cool

I strongly suggest that you start contacting some of the schools you're interested in and request information and a tour and to meet with the program director.  Ask questions and explore your options (there are many).

You do not need to go through the military, either.  While the FAA will hire people who have gone that route, it is only one of three ways the FAA hires controllers (military, ATC-CTI, Public). 

Also, check out the FAA website.  They have lots of information on becoming a controller.  They also have the entire Air Traffic Control manual online (FAAO 7110.65S - Air Traffic Control).  It's a large PDF file with all of the rules and regulations on controlling along with proper phraseology.  Literally, the controller's "Bible."  You can find it here:

http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraffic/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/ATC/

Keep in mind that this changes from time to time.  The "S" version is current and will change every two years (I believe).

Lastly, keep an eye on my blog (link in signature).  It hasn't beenupdated lately as I've been a little busy, but it will contain some valuable information on schools and getting into the profession.

If you have any questions, let me know.  Even post a comment in my blog if you'd like. 

Hope I've been able to help!  smiley
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Mark Spencer
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2009, 08:04:51 PM »

I wouldn't waste the money to go to a school...as long as you have three years of progressively responsible work experience you can qualify for the off the street job postings.  Even if you go to a CTI school, (which there are 31) you still have to pass the AT-SAT.  So...you could spend 40K or more for a ATC degree that is only good for ATC and then fail the written test that they may give you at the end of the school and now you cannot be an air traffic controller.  Yes...this can happen.  I know of at least one case.  So...why not just apply off the street...save yourself a couple years and thousands of dollars...in the meantime, go to college for something other than ATC related.

http://www.stuckmic.com/cti-schools/
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oreotsi
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2009, 09:51:10 PM »

I wouldn't waste the money to go to a school...as long as you have three years of progressively responsible work experience you can qualify for the off the street job postings.  Even if you go to a CTI school, (which there are 31) you still have to pass the AT-SAT.  So...you could spend 40K or more for a ATC degree that is only good for ATC and then fail the written test that they may give you at the end of the school and now you cannot be an air traffic controller.  Yes...this can happen.  I know of at least one case.  So...why not just apply off the street...save yourself a couple years and thousands of dollars...in the meantime, go to college for something other than ATC related.

http://www.stuckmic.com/cti-schools/

+1
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atcman23
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2009, 08:53:54 AM »

The AT-SAT is  standardized test; no CTI school provides any sort of insight or "test review" before you take it.  Chances are you'll likely take the test while you are in school (at least, this is what was happening when I was at CCBC).  There is a book out now that gives some good insight on the test and comes with a CD-ROM that has some features of the test on it (they are harder than the real test, but they give you good practice).  The FAA states that you don't need prior experience to take the test or even become a controller.  True, but a lot of the questions on the AT-SAT in one section specifically deals with ATC.  Also, going to a CTI school will take one month out of training at OKC, which is all the basics about controlling (rules/regs).  They'll cram it on you and you may remember a good quarter of the information too.  Much more than a month is needed to learn a lot of the rules/regs and how and when to apply them.  By attending a school, you can discuss a few of these rules/regs and then apply them.  Much easier to understand and you'll have a lot better chance of learning and understanding the material.

I'm not saying that you can't fail the AT-SAT if you go to a CTI school (I know of a couple in my class who had to re-take it), because that just isn't true.  However, the chances of failing it are less when you do attend one of these schools.  And depending on where you live and what school you want to go to, it may or may not cost 40K to go.

Being that the person that asked for the info is only 16 (according to the post, anyway), they have plenty of time to review information on these schools and weigh their options.  My advice: start getting information from schools you are interested in now and take some college tours and speak with the directors of these programs.  Start reading the 7110.65 on the FAAs website.  Then weigh your options.  I changed my major 3 times and ended up changing schools to attend CCBC for ATC.  Best decision of my life, too.  I would have never applied off the street without going to this school.  Right now, it's paying off, too.

Just my thoughts.  smiley
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Mark Spencer
darkdrifter04
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2009, 01:00:36 AM »

ohh alright. thanks for the advice/info everyone. when they say 3 years of work experience, im guessing it doesnt have to be ATC related work at all right? i think what i'm going to do is go to the college i want to go to  and major in something else and take that job and eventually IF i am still interested in ATC by then i'll study/take the test Smiley thanks everyone!
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RV1
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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2009, 09:11:59 PM »

I posted this on another thread but, due to your questions, thought it relevant:
   

Remember always: Don't trust the FAA or their word! Even if you get it in writing!
Probably one of the best jobs out there.
Learn the difference between arrogance and confidence. It's a fine but important line.
Be willing to start out at a lower level facility and move your way up (it's better to start out slower and get certified than to start out busier and wash out).
Don't be afraid to try some of the free ATC games on the net. There are two that I recommend to my trainees to improve their skills.
Try to keep a positive but low profile until your probationary period is done. It's very easy to get fired if you're a probee.
Don't think that idle chit chat and nonstandard phraseology on the freqs is a cool way to be when you key up; people are getting fired for that.
If you want to attend college, great. Your degree/time will help when you bid on higher positions and may give you extra bidding points over other controllers. Don't go into major debt just to land an ATC job. Use the education to improve yourself as a whole.
There aren't many other jobs where my skills as a controller are just what they want.
Do take tours in your local ATC facilities. The controllers will try to help and be helpful and management will try to provide direction for you to take because they really need more bodies.
If you are relatively young, (and even if you aren't) get a job! The FAA is looking for three years of work experience, not three years of controlling experience. Shoveling horse poop for three years is still work experience and considering your ability to handle crap may actually aide you when you get hired.Consider pilot training. Half of the controllers here have a pilot's license. This helps you to understand some of the rules and regs and gives you some insight into what the pilot is trying to do or why. (Other times, you may still have no clue as to why he just did what he did!)
Studying for the tests increases your ability to get your foot in the door. However, it doesn't always provide insight as to whether or not you'll 'make it'. I've seen people who have studied ATC for over a year wash out during their OJT, yet newbies with NO ATC experience check out in less than a year.
In all careers, like what you do. You may be there awhile. A job in hand is...
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Kick butt, take no names, they dont matter anyways
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