Become an Air Traffic Controller

Apply for a job unlike any other: become an air traffic controller and position yourself as a key player in a sector where each day is more exciting than the previous one.

Your training and character


Do you want to help to shape the future of air traffic control? Do you want to become an air traffic controller? You can apply if you:

  • have graduated from high school (“Allgemeine Hochschulreife“ for candidates in Germany) or completed an apprenticeship (for candidates from Switzerland)
  • are a Swiss citizen (essential for military training), have a C residence permit or are a citizen of the EU-28/EFTA states
  • are between 18 and 30 years of age at the start of training
  • have very good knowledge of English (competence level B2) and excellent knowledge of either French, German or Italian (competence level C1)
  • think logically and possess multi-tasking skills
  • can take mental stress and can work in a team
  • have a high acceptance of responsibility and are very reliable


We do not accept applications from candidates that have failed the selection process with another ANSP (Air Navigation Service Provider). The same applies for candidates that previously commenced ATCO training at another ANSP but were unsuccessful.



Your aptitudes

Entry into the skyguide training center is decided by a three-stage aptitude testing procedure which is held regularly. Defined standards of performance must be attained before progressing from one stage to the next.




SPHAIR graduates

There is an exception for SPHAIR candidates with the following recommendation: “Because of your performance at the SPHAIR screening there will be no selectivity at the first selection day of skyguide.” Nevertheless they will complete all three stages of the skyguide aptitude testing procedure. However, the Level 1 selection is waived, so a candidate who is not successful at this level will still be invited to take the second stage of the test. The recommendation is valid for two years.



Initial training


The initial training at the skyguide training centre is divided into two phases:


Phase 1: Twenty weeks of initial training, during which students acquire the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to work as an air traffic controller. This phase covers theoretical subjects such as aerodynamics, meteorology, navigation, aircraft technical aspects and air traffic control rules and regulations. Trainees also take their first small steps as air traffic controllers by participating in group activities and then progressing to individual training in basic simulation of area, approach and tower control environments.


Phase 2 : After successful completion of Phase 1, trainees are assigned to flight training school in a regional aerodrome to enable them to experience the actual tasks and specific needs of pilots for whom they will be providing air navigation services in the future.


Rating training
This specialised ATC training provides the trainee with the knowledge and skills related to a specific ATC discipline. The trainee assigned to a regional tower control unit undergoes the tower control (ADI) rating training. If the position being trained for is an approach control unit, the trainee takes part in approach control (APS) rating training. For en-route control units, the trainee follows the area control (ACS) rating training.



Unit training


During their initial training, air traffic controller trainees are allocated to different operational units. Once they haved passed their basic and rating training (tower, approach or area control), they start their specific unit training. Their skills are developed step by step to a higher standard in a mix of theory and simulation training.


Trainees then start a customised unit training course of several weeks and enter the on-the-job training phase to improve their capabilities in sequent stages. Beginning with basic requirements, these stages allow a continuous and successful training and grant licensing after 8-12 months in the first endorsement (tower, approach or area control). Air traffic controllers are then trained in a shortened time frame to get succeeding endorsements.



Apply to become an Air Traffic Controller


Do you meet the requirements? Are you sufficiently intrigued to move to the next step? Why not apply.

We accept foreign candidates, which have at least level C1 in German, Italian or French.

In case of any question regarding your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us via before sending your application.




Need-to-know for the ATCO training


1. Vision test

You must submit the “vision requirements” form with your application, completed by an optician or ophthalmologist. The doctors from the Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) will be responsible for any further questions of medical fitness.


2. Training – a mix of theory and practice

Your training lasts 2½ years and combines both theory and practice. The following modules are taught:

  • Basic training
    The 7-month theoretical basic training takes place at the skyguide training center in Dübendorf. It covers the following subjects: aerodynamics, aircraft technology, meteorology, radar and radio technology, navigation, air traffic information services, aviation law, technical English and radio telephony.
  • Rating
    Basic training for the control tower, approach and departure or en-route control. You will acquire the basis for operations-specific training in theoretical lessons and simulator training.
  • Endorsement 1
    First part of operational training. Procedural and system knowledge will be broadened in theoretical learning, simulation training and learning on-the-job and trainees will also learn about radar traffic control. The goal is the entitlement to work independently at a specific number of workplaces, or endorsement 1.
  • Solo endorsement 1
    Working independently at the workplaces specified in endorsement 1.


Furthermore, a written diploma work on an aviation theme is integral part of your training, amongst the endorsement 2, a mixture between theory, learning through simulation and through working on-the-job. The goal of the endorsement 2 is the entitlement to work at several workplaces in the operational area (endorsement 2).


3. Termination of training

You pass the first hurdle with the aptitude test. Trainees must undergo tests after each individual training section. These consist of theoretical and practical tests in order to qualify under clearly-defined guidelines. Passing each test is a requirement for continuing training through to its successful conclusion. If the required standard is not attained, training will be terminated. You can count on complete support and advice from those responsible for their training. If training is terminated, skyguide will not make any claims for training costs already incurred.


4. Employment guarantee and collective labour agreement

Licensed Air Traffic Controllers can count on permanent employment with skyguide. As well as a salary commensurate with responsibility, you will also enjoy advantageous working conditions based on a collective labour agreement which is regularly reviewed.


5. Training costs and remuneration

The training costs are covered by the company. As an ATCO trainee, you will be paid a training salary of CHF 26,000 in the first year and CHF 31,200 in the second.


6. Training dates

Courses begin at the skyguide training center several times a year. If the next training course is full, candidates will be allocated to the next available course.


7. Applications

You can apply at any time. We conduct monthly aptitude tests in Geneva and Zurich.


8. Workplaces

Although operational needs take priority in deciding at which location you will work, your preferences will be considered wherever possible.


9. Aptitude tests

Air Traffic Controller have spatial awareness, high resistance to pressure, a high multi-tasking capacity, they enjoy teamwork and have good communications skills. Mobility and the willingness to work shifts are also essential.
Entry into the skyguide training center is decided by a three-stage aptitude testing procedure which is held regularly. Defined standards of performance must be attained before progressing from one stage to the next.

  • Stage I consists of multiple tests of varying lengths. The tests are in English.
  • Stage II tests are carried out with each candidate individually. They consist of diverse flight simulation exercises. Then we offer each candidate a “get-to-know-us” day, either in Geneva, Zurich or a regional airport. Accompanied by a mentor, you will be able to see close-up what the job of an Air Traffic Controller involves, get to know the working environment, and ask all your questions.
  • Stage III concludes the aptitude testing and of two group exercises and an individual interview. The final requirements before starting the training course are an acceptable medical examination certificate and passing an oral English test. If your knowledge of the language is poor, the test may be taken again. Further steps will be agreed upon in a final interview.


10. European licence

Our training programme satisfies all the requirements of the national and international regulators. Air Traffic Controllers receive a licence issued by the Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) which is recognised throughout Europe.


11. Career path

The profession of air traffic controller poses a daily challenge in a dynamic environment. Your working hours and shifts will still allow you to pursue your personal interests and hobbies. Most air traffic controllers remain in their jobs until retirement at age 56 (civil positions) or 59 (military positions). Skyguide also offers the opportunity for promotions and management training courses. You can also become involved in aptitude testing, training, incident investigation and many more. Once you attain a position of responsibility, you may want to pursue further education or project work.


12. Medical fitness

Medical fitness will be evaluated between the successful completion of the aptitude tests and the start of training.


13. Language during training and at work

English is the internationally recognised language for air navigation services. Your spoken English should be at a level equivalent to the Cambridge First Certificate (competence level B2). If this is not the case during the aptitude testing, it will be possible to retake the English test.


14. Living accommodations

In the first year, all trainees follow their courses in the skyguide training center in Dübendorf. For this period we lease furnished rooms in shared apartments, depending on availability.


15. Civil or military

Skyguide is responsible for providing both civil and military air navigation services. In order to coordinate both, Air Traffic Controllers for both services work closely together. Our Air Traffic Controllers in charge of military air traffic are also civil employees and are specially trained to meet the requirements.