So often temperament and personality are small considerations when choosing a career but most of us would agree that it is absolutely essential for air traffic controllers.
NAV CANADA, the agency contracted by Transport Canada, to recruit, hire and train air traffic controllers, has identified the following as key strengths for controllers: thinking and reasoning; communication; multi-tasking; attention; information processing; memory; motor ability; agreeableness; conscientiousness; emotional stability; and knowledge.
This is definitely a career where personal suitability is critical. And while finding the right person is important, NAV CANADA is much more flexible about the credentials required. Contrary to popular belief, air traffic controllers don't need to have previous experience in the sector. In fact, this is a brief list of the essential qualifications of potential candidates: they must be at least 18 years old; Canadian citizens or permanent residents; high school graduates; available for training within the next 18 months; willing to relocate; willing to undergo a medical exam; prepared to undergo a Secret Level security check; and be willing to train intensively.
Prior to embarking on this career, candidates should realize that it is really three types of careers: Flight Service Specialist; Airport Air Traffic Controller; and Area Air Traffic Controller. Each occupation requires a different level of training ranging from 4 to 14 months. Candidates who are successful in entering training earn a salary in training of $30,000 to $33,000 per year.
In this profile we break down the six step application process but for those who successfully complete the process, the rewards are significant. Flight Service Specialists can earn between $42,000 and $86,000 per year and an Air Traffic Controller can earn between $57,000 and $123,000.
The reality of this profession is that only a select group of people are capable of the work; only a small percentage make it through the screening and training process; and once in the occupation, the work is extremely taxing; physically, mentally and emotionally.
Usually I would dissuade people from pursuing a career that they might not be suitable for but in this case, if you were suitable, I believe it's a bigger question of determining whether this is an occupation you can see yourself doing for the rest of your career. For those for whom it is a good fit, the rewards are enormous.