Lately, I have been receiving emails regarding on how to become an ATC (Air Traffic Controller) in the Philippines. Well, let me tell you something about the nature of the job of an air traffic controller. You see, they are the guiding voices of the sky. They instruct pilots when and where to descend, climb, commence a left or right turn, and other specific instructions. They are responsible for handling air traffic in a safe, orderly, and in an expeditious way.
Here in the Philippines, Air Traffic Controllers work under the Philippine government, specifically at the Air Traffic Service of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines or CAAP.
Here are the steps on how to become one:
- Get a college degree. It doesn't matter whether you're a graduate of Nursing, Literature, or Applied Physics. I am a BS Biology graduate yet here I am, working as an air traffic controller in the Philippines. And oh, you must not be more than 26 years old before taking the qualifying exam.
- Pass the qualifying exam. The exam covers the following subjects: General Knowledge, Logic, Word Problems, and Reading and Comprehension. There are 200 items in this exam (50 items for each subject) and you are only allowed to take it for only two hours. Usually, more than a thousand hopefuls take the ATC qualifying exam but only a hundred make it to the initial cut.
- Pass the medical exam and the panel interview. Take note that if the doctor finds out that you're color blind, then you're automatically disqualified. Usually, those who'll interview you are chiefs or supervisors from different air traffic control facilities of the country.
- If you pass the interview, then you're qualified for the training.
Training and Employment Phase
- The training lasts for almost a year. It is conducted at the Civil Aviation Training Center (CATC) located at Merville Access Road, Pasay City. The training is free but the trainee should shoulder his own expenses in board and lodging, food, and other miscellaneous expenses.
- The training is divided into three phases: Phase 1 (Theoretical Part about Air Traffic Service), Phase 2 (Theoretical and dry runs of the three controlled facilities: Aerodrome, Approach, and Area Control/Enroute), and OJT.
- After graduation, you're expected to have another round of OJT on different facilities in Manila. You're also required to fill out and sign forms and contracts for your employment, answer loads of exams for your license, and take the English Language Proficiency (ELP) exam.
- After obtaining your license, the head of the Air Traffic Service will soon give your facility assignment.
It takes almost two years to become one. But if you're really into aviation, particularly in air traffic control, then it won't be a problem. The training is really challenging - both mentally and physically. Sleep deprivation is inevitable, but it will really train you on how to handle stress, most especially when handling stressful situations in air traffic.
For more information, please visit CAAP's website.