Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Ground & Other Ops Forums > ATC Issues
Reload this Page >

Degrees good for ATCO's

ATC Issues A place where pilots may enter the 'lions den' that is Air Traffic Control in complete safety and find out the answers to all those obscure topics which you always wanted to know the answer to but were afraid to ask.

Degrees good for ATCO's

Old 15th Jun 2016, 10:04
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Yorkshire
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Degrees good for ATCO's

Hi all

My first post on here

I'm due to start Uni next year, and wishing to become an ATCO. I've already been in touch with a friend who is one, and certain it's what I wish to do as a career.

I'm at a bit of a dilemma, though....I could apply now, but since I have little experience in terms of aviation I think I may not stand as good a chance as someone a little older with more aviation experience. Instead, I'm looking at doing a degree at an aviation academy, it's a 2-year foundation degree which has an optional 3rd year that makes it a Bsc (Hons). It's called Aviation Operations & Management (Pilot Studies). It looks really interesting and the course provider said students have gone on to become ATCO's.

I'd really like advice from you guys, is is something worthwhile doing, getting some experience and maybe even an opportunity to get a p/t job within the airfield where the academy is located versus no experience?!


Would appreciate your advice, tips etc. I guess I could apply now and then apply when I finish the degree, but seems a bit pointless to me knowing I'd probably be against people with more experience?

Cheers

M.
M8ttb is offline  
Old 15th Jun 2016, 12:08
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: swanlake
Age: 52
Posts: 250
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Getting a degree isn't necessary for an atco role, however if things change for whatever reason, such as not passing the spatial awareness or even the medical due to some underlying issue, you would have a qualification to fall back on and help in other careers. I work alongside guys/girls with varying degrees such as history,art, economics, English. I also work with others that have just gcses. All of what you need to be a controller is taught, its tough and a very high study rate. Having a degree can demonstrate your ability to study at a higher level. Do a bit of research, visit an airfield if you can to find information, prepare for interviews is what's needed.check the thread on the testing for an insight. Check Nats website and see if you can get anything from there too. If the degree course is what you want to do that's fine, but it's not essential for the role. You are right to do a degree first though.its a wise move and if you want to climb the corporate ladder beyond controlling within a company such a Nats, a degree is now being listed as a requirement on quite a few senior posts.
45 before POL is offline  
Old 15th Jun 2016, 13:14
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SE England
Posts: 664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm not convinced a degree is worthwhile for many people, but especially not ATCOs. You would be far better served getting some work experience in a numerate role while waiting your ATCO training slot. Having said that ATC is very competitive and the odds are stacked against anyone, so have a backup plan and maybe educate yourself relevant to plan b. I have seen PhDs not making it and a GCSE only being among the most natural controllers. Most of my middle managers seem to be uneducated, but driven. Many of my academic colleagues don't feel the need to prove anything and are happy "just" controlling.

If you have a mature enough outlook to get straight on the (very basic) ATC training course, you would be much better off just going for it and having an extra few years' pension contributions and no student debt. Before anyone cries "sour grapes" I speak as an Engineering graduate from a time when degrees were still a rarity.
Dan Dare is offline  
Old 15th Jun 2016, 14:13
  #4 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Yorkshire
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for this, although I'm not sure what you mean about the very basic ATC training course...is that the NATS one? Someone was telling me that you can independently qualify with an ATCo license and seek work from airfields who don't have a NATS unit etc?

I know the requirements for NATS is not a degree, but if it gains me some experience with aviation and if at some point a lot further down the line i decide a change in the aviation world, I could fall back on to it?
M8ttb is offline  
Old 15th Jun 2016, 14:24
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: jersey
Age: 73
Posts: 1,381
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Having an ATC aptitude & an interest in aviation & ATC is far more important than having a Degree. Although, these days, a Degree would be a help to you in getting you noticed in the first place. But, other than that, I don't think it is all that important to have one. I echo the other advice that you have received. Get some background knowledge, interest & experience under your belt .... & keep your fingers crossed !
In my day it seemed most important to be an ATCA & play football for London Airways. It certainly helped a lot of aspiring ATCOS !
kcockayne is offline  
Old 15th Jun 2016, 15:39
  #6 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Berkshire, UK
Age: 78
Posts: 8,268
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
010 degrees served me well.... except when there was a strong westerly wind!
HEATHROW DIRECTOR is offline  
Old 15th Jun 2016, 15:46
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Dubai and Sunderland
Posts: 813
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A degree is totally different way of learning to Air Traffic Control, when the s**t hits the fan you cannot go away and write a 3000 word thesis to get you out of it!!
10 DME ARC is offline  
Old 15th Jun 2016, 16:10
  #8 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: -
Posts: 508
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My own BSc (Hons) is certainly not needed for the job, but good expereince at Uni, good prep for the NATS Student ATCO Course, (though at times it made the BSc course feel like a 4-year holiday), and always good to have the qualification as a back-up/Plan B to use in the event that the Student ATCO course doesn't go the right way. (Pretty high rate of attrition in my day).

Experience is all well and good, but your ability to successfully complete the aptitude tests coupled with how you conduct yourself in an interview will have a greater impact. You'll then have the Student ATCO course to get your Licence and the subsequent posting to your unit to Validate it to look forward to - which will likely take 2-3 years, and a good number of those bums on seats on Day 1 will not make it to validating their Licence.

Me? I'd do the course, get the BSc (Hons) under your belt, then apply for ATCO. Others may tell you different.
rab-k is offline  
Old 15th Jun 2016, 16:38
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Way north
Age: 46
Posts: 497
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A degree??
jmmoric is offline  
Old 15th Jun 2016, 21:08
  #10 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: southampton,hampshire,england
Posts: 854
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
M8ttb

Don't know which uni you are going to. Check out the University Air Squadron site......could give you an introduction into the aviation world. Good luck whatever you decide....ATC is a job second to none. A lot of good guys/gals on PPRuNe, worth thinking about what they say inbetween some of the funny stuff.
055166k is offline  
Old 16th Jun 2016, 02:12
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: New Zealand
Age: 60
Posts: 22
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I suggest ...

step number one before doing anything else - go do an ATC/Pilot medical.
no point in wasting any further time or money if you aren't going to be able to go any further. I have seen several people with their sites set on an aviation career coming to a screeching halt due to the types in white coats.

Then ...
taking the 4yr uni scenario and a 2 yr license and validation as example...

after 6yrs you are a licensed controller with a degree but little experience and only 2 yrs superannuation input. It also gives a period of 4yrs where life, marriage, mortgage etc can step in and change or ruin/improve things (depending on point of view).

OR
go straight into ATC then do the degree in your own time.
6yrs later you are a licensed ATC with 6yrs experience and super input and a degree. You will also have decided if doing the degree was even necessary and you have 6yrs pay in the bank. More likely you will be like the rest of us and be married mortgaged and deciding if the kids get a college fund or it's winter in the Caribbean or skiing in Switzerland for you and the missus.

been doing it for 27yrs now and before joining I did deliver a TV to a university once. Biggest laugh was getting a diploma in aviation in the post after they decided all the study in getting the license and upgrading over the years was the equivalent.

either way good luck with it . ATC is a great job and lifestyle once you are in and settled. A great bunch of people around the world as mates too.
towerguy is offline  
Old 16th Jun 2016, 14:30
  #12 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Moon
Posts: 214
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My advice would be if you go to University it may be useful to get a degree in something other than "Aviation Studies" . If you choose a degree like Maths, Geography, Chemistry or especially Computing I think it will give you another string to your bow. It will help if you get a partime job,bar work etc because it will give you something to talk about.

You are obviously interested in aviation so you can easily remain up to date in your spare time.

Having been an ATCO for over thirty years as long as you are a misfit there does not seem to be standard ATCO type. I have seen people with top degrees not make it, and ruffians off the street who have been naturals.

Despite all of the selection tests I think it boils down to you either get it or you don't.

NATS are recruiting like crazy at the moment so why not apply now and if you fail you can reapply in two years, which you can use to go to Uni!

Also remember if you apply for NATS you may not get the discipline or posting you want.

Rgds

AyrTC
AyrTC is offline  
Old 16th Jun 2016, 18:59
  #13 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Wildest Surrey
Age: 74
Posts: 9,661
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Of all the trainees I mentored in my 34 years as an ATCO, the most difficult to train were those with degrees. They took longest and were more likely to fail to achieve competency.
chevvron is offline  
Old 16th Jun 2016, 19:40
  #14 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Asgard
Posts: 488
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I know of one or two ATCOs in my time who had degrees, but the best trainee I ever encountered was a former train driver, I also know of a former plumber and an ex cop. good luck, anyway.
Loki is offline  
Old 16th Jun 2016, 21:09
  #15 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Yorkshire
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I see what you mean, a mixed bag of thoughts! I'm not sure whether to apply now or when I finish the degree. The bottom line is if I did it now I'd have nothing to lose right? And if anything, I'd be showing I'm interested in becoming an ATCO since I'll have already applied previously (if I wasn't to get in first time!)?

Are there other companies you can train with out of interest? I know that NATS is the one to go to with their excellent ops etc
M8ttb is offline  
Old 16th Jun 2016, 21:57
  #16 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Moon
Posts: 214
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sometimes Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd take direct entrants and put them through an Aerodrome and Approach ( non radar )course.
https://hialcareers.co.uk/jobs.

There are no vacancies at the moment, this however is quite an extreme way to go because you have to be able to cope with a remote island posting which is a completely different mindset. I did three years on an island airport and it was good fun. I did however have the safety net of being seconded from NATS/CAA at the time and knew I was probably going back to Scottish Centre after my tour.

HIAL is now a separate company and recruit their own ATCO's.

Inverness is the company HQ and Inverness Airport has Radar, however it would be very unlikely you would ever get that as a first posting.

I must reiterate that due to the locations of these airfields the vacancies when they arise will not suit everyone!

Rgds

AyrTC

Last edited by AyrTC; 17th Jun 2016 at 07:02.
AyrTC is offline  
Old 16th Jun 2016, 22:36
  #17 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Berkshire, UK
Age: 78
Posts: 8,268
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have 2 GCE O levels, a cycling proficiency certificate..... and not much else. As someone else mentioned, I too worked with many people with several degrees, etc., but ATC is a skill, particularly Radar Control. Some have it, others do not. Unfortunately many trainees do well up to the time they have to do it for real and then..... One student at LATCC did everything well, including the simulator, but come the day he had to start live training he simply could not walk into the ops room. Another student absolutely refused to employ 3-mile separation on final approach - claimed it was too dangerous.
HEATHROW DIRECTOR is offline  
Old 17th Jun 2016, 05:57
  #18 (permalink)  

de minimus non curat lex
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: sunny troon
Posts: 1,425
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A visit to the trick cyclist might have helped.
Choose your people carefully in the first place
parkfell is offline  
Old 17th Jun 2016, 10:46
  #19 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: The foot of Mt. Belzoni.
Posts: 1,996
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
parkfell,
Been there, done that. In the 1980s, NATS commissioned a well-known firm of trick-cyclists to develop suitable aptitude tests, having sent a couple of their bods to sit alongside us in the ops room for 2 or 3 weeks.
They went away and came back with said tests and gave us a presentation all about them. Very few of us understood what we were shown. All those present were valid ATCOs, several of whom had CPLs or previous RAF pilot/navigator experience.
When these tests were introduced, the ATCO Cadet Course dropped from around 90% to 20%. I'm not sure what it is today though, but it has improved.

When I went through the selection procedure in 1978/79, there were rudimentary tests which I and a couple of my unit colleagues were borderline on. We all did well (95%+ each) on the 3-man 'final selection boards' and all wnt on to become valid ATCOs.
HD is spot on too. In my time as an OJTI I met several u/ts who had sailed through the college, writen, simulator and oral-board exams all passed. As soon as they sat down with live traffic, they couldn't do it. Really nice folks who, NATS kindly found work for, elsewhere in the organisation.

Last edited by ZOOKER; 17th Jun 2016 at 11:03.
ZOOKER is offline  
Old 17th Jun 2016, 11:27
  #20 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: UK
Age: 57
Posts: 221
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by M8ttb View Post
I see what you mean, a mixed bag of thoughts! I'm not sure whether to apply now or when I finish the degree. The bottom line is if I did it now I'd have nothing to lose right? And if anything, I'd be showing I'm interested in becoming an ATCO since I'll have already applied previously (if I wasn't to get in first time!)?

Are there other companies you can train with out of interest? I know that NATS is the one to go to with their excellent ops etc

The answers you'll get depend on the background of the person responding, & the one most suitable for you depends on what type of ATC you wish to go into; whichever, though, your chosen degree will add valuable background, so don't fret about that. NATS is one of, but not the only, training provider, if you're able to move outside the UK - most of the European providers will be recruiting soon, if they're not already. They tend to use the same test regimes though, so there's only really any benefit when you have a target in mind. You're correct, you can do the preliminary application & testing now, that'll give you some idea as to whether you'll at least pass that phase. There's no pressure to continue beyond that until you're ready, the pressure is really on the providers who need people asap. That's unlikely to radically change in the time span you're thinking about, so perhaps take the degree & see from then on. You have a plan, that's great, lots of people don't!
alfaman is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2022 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.