Become a certified Air Traffic Controller

How to join our school for higher vocational training and start your career as a certified Air Traffic Controller

The flight is ready to take off, the pilot receives the clearance from the Air Traffic Controller in the airport’s control tower. Shortly after, the aircraft roars and soars away, and is soon just a dot on the horizon…


Skyguide’s tower, approach/departure and en-route Air Traffic Controllers monitor all the aircraft on their radar, guide them to, from and along the airways and coordinate all air traffic movements.


It’s an exciting and responsible job. So why don’t you earn your Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education as an Air Traffic Controller HF?






Skyguide’s Air Traffic Controllers


A responsibility – and a passion

Fascination, performance, teamwork, technology: these are just some of the aspects of the Air Traffic Controller’s or ATCO’s profession. Air Traffic Controllers coordinate the takeoff and landing clearances for aircraft, and manage and monitor them in the airspace assigned.


Skyguide’s Air Traffic Controllers work in various capacities:

  • Tower Control (at regional and international airports)
  • Approach/Departure
  • Area Control Center (managing and monitoring en-route airways traffic)
  • Tactical Fighter Control in the Swiss Air Force’s Air Defense & Direction Center



Tower Control


From their airport control tower workplace, Tower Controllers can view the entire airport premises to manage and monitor all landings, takeoffs and taxiing on the ground. Tower Controllers are responsible for all the aircraft in the Control Zone (which extends some 15 kilometres around the airport). This also involves integrating all the traffic operating here under visual flight rules (i.e. helicopters and light aircraft) into the often busy instrument flight rules traffic at and around the airport.


Approach & Departure

In Approach & Departure control, the controllers manage and monitor all the aircraft flying under instrument flight rules within a radius of around 50 kilometres of an airport. They guide aircraft after takeoff as they climb to the airways in the upper airspace; and they guide descending aircraft from these same airways down to their destination airport. If approach traffic is particularly heavy, they may also put some of these descending aircraft into a holding pattern or “stack”, from which they can then be guided individually and with appropriate separations onto their final airport approach.


The Area Control Center

The upper airspace which is managed and monitored by skyguide’s Geneva and Zurich Area Control Centers comprises the airspace above Switzerland and certain adjacent airspace areas in neighbouring countries that have been delegated to skyguide’s control. This airspace extends up from 7 000 feet (around 2 100 metres) to 66 000 feet (over 20 kilometres). Given these areas’ large horizontal and vertical dimensions, they may also be subdivided into smaller airspace sectors, depending on traffic volumes. These sectors may be defined by geographical or by altitude criteria.


The Air Defense & Direction Center

Tactical Fighter Controllers work for the Swiss Air Force in its Dübendorf Air Defense & Direction Center or ADDC. They perform their duties in close collaboration with Switzerland’s air force pilots. Aerial policing and tactical missions are part and parcel of their daily work. Skyguide’s Tactical Fighter Controllers are essential, for instance, in ensuring the safe and secure staging of major events in Switzerland such as the annual World Economic Forum.



The application procedure


Profile required for the aptitude test

  • “Matura” (Swiss baccalaureate) or completed vocational apprenticeship with EFZ federal certificate of proficiency
  • Swiss nationality (essential for Tactical Fighter Controllers)
  • Citizen of one of the 28 EU or the EFTA states, or Category C Swiss residence permit (for civil Air Traffic Controllers)
  • Aged between 18 and 30
  • Level C1 German, French or Italian skills
  • Level B2 English skills
  • Logical thinking and multitasking abilities
  • Ability to work under pressure and to work in a team
  • High reliability and strong sense of responsibility


How to apply


Step One: Provide documents

  • Print and have an optician or ophthalmologist fill in the form “Preliminary eye test” (printable PDF).
  • Print and fill the “Additional Questionnaire” form (printable PDF).
  • Scan the now filled documents, name them accordingly to the name of the original printed PDF, and keep them ready for the next step.


Step Two: Apply online

Before you log on to our digital application portal, make sure that you have these documents ready digitally:

  • Passport photo
  • Your ID or passport and, if applicable, your residence permit for Switzerland
  • Your last school report (apprenticeship or grammar school)
  • Your school-leaving certificate or apprenticeship-leaving certificate, as well as any final and employment references, if available
  • Letter of motivation (1 page)
  • curriculum vitae
  • Preliminary examination of your eyesight” and “Supplementary information on your application” (see First: Provide documents)


All set? Then we are looking forward to your application! The application process takes about 25 minutes.


Step Three: the aptitude and language tests

Before you embark on your ATCO training, we also make sure, as part of our recruitment process, that this will be the right job for you. Our aptitude assessment here is divided into three parts:


  • Aptitude Test 1
  • Aptitude Test 2
  • Aptitude Test 3 (Selection Camp)


These three aptitude tests cannot be repeated, because they all test your fundamental skills and abilities. We will also test your English skills. But this test can be taken again (once) if you do not pass. If you’re applying to become a Tactical Fighter Controller, we will also conduct a mindset test. And if you pass all these tests, we will then check your medical fitness to perform the Air Traffic Controller’s duties.


What is important for you to know (also in terms of giving notice to your current employer) is that this aptitude test process takes 40 to 60 days to complete.


The selection process flowchart:



The training


In your training to earn your Air Traffic Controller’s Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education and accumulate the corresponding professional experience, you will acquire valuable expertise that can be used in various contexts and connections, both at skyguide and within the broader aviation sector.


Your training to become a qualified Swiss Air Traffic Controller with the corresponding licence will take about 30 months. In accordance with international standards, the training is divided into three training phases. You will also earn an attractive salary during your training time.

Your first year of training will be spent at the skyguide academy in Dübendorf. There will be two training phases here:

  • In your Basic Training (Phase 1) you will learn about aerodynamics, aircraft technology, meteorology, air navigation services technology, navigation, the Aeronautical Information Service, aviation law and similar. You will also train for your various possible areas of future deployment such as the Tower (TWR), Approach (APP) and the Area Control Centre (ACC), all using realistic basic simulators.
  • In your Rating Training (Phase 2) the focus will be on further developing your theoretical knowledge and your simulator skills in a specific area of application (TWR, APP or ACC). The language of instruction will be English throughout your basic training.


In your second year of training you will already be at your future place of deployment – at a civil airport or military air base, at an Area Control Center or in the Air Defence & Direction Centre – for your Unit Endorsement. The programme here covers simulator and on-the-job training.


Guaranteed employment and a collective labour agreement

We guarantee licensed Air Traffic Controllers a position at one of our 14 operating locations throughout Switzerland. You will also be working under a collective labour agreement that offers excellent employment terms and conditions. And you will have various options and opportunities for further training and development within our skyguide organisation.



The licence you earn with your Air Traffic Controller’s Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education is issued by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation. It is renewed by means of further training and examinations. The basic training is recognized throughout Europe.