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Comprehensive Air Traffic Service Course

How To Become An Air Traffic Controller In The Philippines

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is in need of exceptional men and women to manage air traffic at our airports and in our skies. This job is for those who are:
  • Motivated
  • Decisive
  • Committed
  • Self-confident
It takes some work to get there, but they'll give you the training and support you need for this great career. You will work with other CAAP controllers and experts staff dedicated to keeping our skies safe. Be an air traffic controller!

CAAP conducts a yearly competitive examination to select trainees for the Comprehensive Air Traffic Service Course (CATS). The training will be held at the Manila Civil Aviation Training Center (CATC), Pasay City, graduates of this course shall qualify for the position of Air Traffic Management Officer.

Qualified and selected applicants (passing the competitive examination, interview and medical/physical examination) shall be trained by CAAP at no cost; however there will be no allowance or other form of compensation during the training.

Qualification of Applicants

Age Limit
Not more than 26 years old on the day of examination.
Physical Condition
Must not be color blind with 20/20 eye vision, Must be of good health and of good moral character, and free from any physical defects.
Successful applicants must undergo medical examination.
Minimum Educational Requirements
Holder of a Baccalaureate degree, with good command of oral and written English and must be computer literate.

Examination Requirements

Applicants must submit a copy of:
  • College Diploma/Transcript of Records;
  • Birth Certificate;
  • Police Clearance;
  • 2 pieces (2x2) picture together with duly filled-up application form.
Requirements may be submitted to HRM Division, CAAP (for Manila applicants) or to the CAAP Air Traffic Service Facility-In-Charge/Airport Manager (for Provincial applicants).

CATS Qualifying Exam

The exam is comprised of four parts, namely: General Information, Mathematics, Logic, and Verbal (English/Filipino). The exam is very similar to the civil service exam in terms of the scope (I even encountered the same test items to the civil service exam when I took it). However, unlike the civil service exam, each test portion in the CATS qualifying exam is a 50-item test, thus the CATS exam is a 200-item test. The exam duration is 120 minutes or 2 hours.

I once took the CATS qualifying exam (08th CATS) on May 2014 at the Manila Civil Aviation Training Center (CATC) at Pasay City. There are two other exam venues, one in the Visayas (Mactan) and one in Mindanao (Davao). Luckily, I managed to pass the qualifying exam.

What's next after passing the exam?

If you passed the exam, you - the successful examinee, will undergo a panel interview. The members of the panel are usually the heads or chiefs of different air traffic service facilities around the country. There were 3 members of the panel during our interview (CATS 08), there were 5 members during the interview for CATS 09.

Here are some common questions asked during panel interviews: (Guarantee that these questions will be asked is not provided. Just be prepared.)
  • What can you say about yourself? / Tell us about yourself.
  • What is(are) your biggest achievement(s)?
  • What is(are) your greatest failure(s) in life? How did you cope with it?
  • How did you know about this job?
  • Do you know the nature of this job? What are the functions of a controller?
If you passed the interview, you will be referred to the CAAP HR to get a referral slip in order to take the medical/physical examination which will be administered at the CAAP Flight Safety Aviation Medicine. (Although, you can take some medical tests, such as drug test and urinalysis, from other reliable medical facilities.)

The Medical/Physical Examination is comprised of:
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) Test;
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) Test;
  • Drug Test;
  • Visual Acuity Test;
  • Chest X-ray Test;
  • Urinalysis/Urine Test;
  • Dental Check-up;
  • Neuro-psychiatric Test;
You're also required to bring 1 piece (1x1) ID picture for your medical exam profile.

Take note that during the acuity test, if the doctor finds out that you are colorblind, then you'll be automatically disqualified from the training course. Although if you're near-sighted, you will be required to have corrective lenses. On the other hand, if you have existing medical illness, such as, pneumonia or weak lungs, etc, then you will be diagnosed and required to undergo medical treatment.

Comprehensive Air Traffic Service (CATS) Course

Once a medical clearance has been issued, stating that you are mentally and physically sound, then you will now be included in the final and official rooster of CATS course trainees and is definitely qualified to undergo the CATS course training.

The Comprehensive Air Traffic Service (CATS) course is a ten (10) months long training. Upon completing the training you'll have to take the English Language Proficiency (ELP) Test and obtain your air traffic controller license. Once you have obtained a license, then you will be hired as an Air Traffic Assistant or as an Air Traffic Management Officer (ATMO) I if there are available/vacant plantilla items.

Philippine Air Traffic Controllers

Currently, there are about 470 Philippine Air Traffic Controllers, assigned to different Air Traffic Control (ATC) facilities in the country, and about 200 Airways Communicators assigned at different ACOMS facilities. See actual ATS technical personnel deployment.

Philippine Air Traffic Controller's Salary

An Air Traffic Control Assistant (Job Order) is paid on a daily basis (₱1,400.00/day for non-rated controllers. ₱1,600.00/day for rated controllers) and receives at least ₱30,000+ monthly. The starting salary for a facility rated Philippine Air Traffic Controller or Airways Communicator (ATMO I) is at ₱42,000.00 per month (Regular Employee/Plantilla Item Holder) plus a ₱2,000.00 monthly allowance.

UPDATE: New Training Program for Aspiring ATC in the Philippines
Step by step guide on how to become an Air Traffic Controller or Airways Communicator in the Philippines. Latest update for Philippine Air Traffic Controllers (ATC). Pass the Air Traffic Controller's competitive exam and be a Pinoy Air Traffic Controller. One of the highest paid jobs in the world.

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