1. Vision test
You must submit the “vision test details” 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.
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. If possible we hire qualified candidates for other attractive positions that do not require an Air Traffic Controller’s licence.
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.
You can apply at any time. We conduct monthly aptitude tests in Geneva and Zurich.
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 require spatial awareness, high resistance to pressure, a high capacity to multi-task 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 55 (civil positions) or 58 (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.