A Career as an ATCO

Hello everyone, i did a search around the forum but did not find any topic that answers my questions so im starting a new topic. If theres any problem, do let me know ^^

So its nearing my time to get a job and be responsible in society and im interested in becoming a ATCO. I know there are resources online and ive probably read some of them but i do not have resources to becoming an ATCO in Singapore apart from the international standards my country’s aviation authority have put up online. I know there are some real world ATCs here and i would be happy to get any little help if anyone were to provide ^^

As of now, there are no recruitment going around but from what i know, there are 2 job openings in a year.

I have not prepared my medical checks yet but i have read and done necessary preparation for medical check-ups so long as an interview is underway. I am also preparing to write my resume but im not really sure if i should include any of these details i’ll put down below.

Personal Background and what im doing.
-I have been interested in becoming an ATCO only about 3-4 years back.
-I dont have much knowledge about ATC apart from the basic Tower operations i learnt here since i joint this January.
-I have listened to LiveATC but for some reason alot of it is inaudible from any local airport in Singapore.As of recent, LiveATC do not have coverage of my local airports anymore so i dont really know whats going on.
-I government medical test i did 2 years ago stated that i had some heart problems but a specialist i visited recently cleared me with a memo that i am alright.
-I do have a WSSS airport diagram that i use and ive done some research online on how to read and interpret them, though this is still limited knowledge.

-I only carry a Diploma in Aerospace Electronics, a diploma with relation to aircraft electrical maintenance
-I have a non-certified diploma module in Radio Fundimentals and Navigation systems (not sure how this might help since its only a studied module)

Aviation authority certification
-I had a certificate of recognition from a Lufthansa Technical Training approved by my local authority for basic Airframe and proper practices training (not related to ATC)
-I had passed a Human Factors exam by the aviation authority on the first attempt that expires in January 2017 (If i do not get in while this is valid, will these still help me in any little way?) On top of that, i do not have a certificate, i only have this email attached saying i passed and its expiry date.

Work experience
-I do not have any Aviation work experience what so ever (this is looking grim already)
-I only had part time work experience in multiple small eateries and a warehouse. The work load in these place were considered massive for 1 person but i have managed well on my own without skipping steps. (I do intend to use this example for my resume but its not aviation related and i think they are gonna dismiss this [multitasking] ability they seem to look for.
-I am conscripted 2 years into my local armed forces as a Military Medic and i have attended to few emergencies, nothing life threatening but emergencies nonetheless.

I am pretty confident that i have the personality to take on an ATCO role but to be honest, i havent been showing it in any of my PG ATC, i do not feel stress because its really just a simulator but i am also unable to test myself with so little knowledge. I know basic pattern work but thats really all i know, Theres only 2 aerodomes in Singapore thats open for civilian operation and its either WSSL or WSSS, WSSS as an international airport is going to be an entirely different mode of operation compared to WSSL where its a place for GA and small jets.

When i listened on LiveATC back then, it really is an entirely different world from IF and i do feel unprepared in terms of knowledge. I am not able to calculate ground speed and air speed all so quickly as of yet and im doing some relearning since i read of its importance.

I know that there are limitations with the information i can possibly receive here but ive mentioned that im willing to get any advice at all, even if its repeated advice (these only goes to show this advice is important). We may not be of the same country and practices may be different but it is on its own difficult for me to get in touch with an ATCO in my country as well, im restricted in such way but ATC is almost an international standard, what i can learn from some will definitely be of help to me.

-I may have forgotten information on this topic so i’ll update as i go along. As of now, ATCO positions are not open and im still preparing a Resume. Once im done, i may consider asking HR if its possible to let me know the next application date.

My goal, to get this job within a year.


You should ask Tyler


Thats very bold, its okay for me to just message him and ask?

Of course! I think he has some experience in ATC

okay then! i’ll message Tyler in a moment. Gotta prepare what i wanna say =p

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Actually, I believe he’s an ATC at a military base, but don’t take my word for it.


You are correct :)

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Speak to @Tyler_Shelton :)

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I’ve sent a message to Tyler a few hours ago, thanks!

If it is anything like the UK’s controller recruitment program, the positions will be heavily over-subscribed and you will need to really be able to stand-out. In the UK, candidates go through 7 ronds of selection, starting with mental tests, interviews, and then training, but only keeping a select few after a couple months. I think 7000 candidates for 30-40 posts.

I suggest you really start expanding your ATC knowledge. Your Aerospace experience will really help, but basics such as knowing your phonetic alphabet (I learned just from playing IF) can really push you up in terms of selection.

Good luck :)

Thank you IceBlue

As of recent, i have tried out some tests that ive heard many ATCOs talk about going through like the aptitude tests, i dont have alot of money now that ive received my last allowance from conscription, i am only able to try out Trial aptitude tests. I wouldnt say i didnt struggle but a trial may be nothing compared to the actual aptitude tests.

I have had some trial tests that required me to read off dials? Recently i tried a trial language test as well, my first language is English but i do have some difficulty hearing through the pilots and atc as they were speaking very quickly and words seems inaudible, then i was required to type and answer several questions in empty spaces. I didnt fail but i certainly struggled.

I did an ATC test that supposedly came from europe once and there were some questions regarding ground speed and airspeeds conversions. Are these considered ATC knowledge? I find that alot of these information are difficult to find, perhaps im not googling properly. Sometimes i watch youtube videos as well but as of now i do not know what ATC knowledge really consists of (in a way, im not sure what i really need to know at the most basic level).

I have heard of SIDs and STARs and am only marginally familiar with them. As of now, I am only familiar with patterns and i learnt of this during my time with IF here.

In the military, phonetic alphabet is pretty common so knowing them all by heart is no issue to me. However using them in sequence very quickly is still a minor issue for me. Lets say PHONE, i wont be able to fluently say Papa hotel oscar november echo but i know what they are.

Recently i bought an app called ATC Voice on the IPad where i can plug in a headset and act as an approach controller using voice commands. I am still practicing with call signs and clarity of the voice but the commands are pretty simple. I simply bring the aircrafts into a pattern at abour 3000-4000ft to intercept localizer and hand them over to tower. For departures, i clear them direct waypoint and whatever altitude they want ensuring separation.

Its a really basic game where i can give simple voice commands like ‘American 21 reduce speed 160 maintain 3000 clear for approach runway 4L’, at times i need to separate and issue this command as several transmissions. Sometimes i have a diagram with STARs but most of the time its just asking the fake planes to fly in different heading and altitude such that they do not collide.

Then again, all these seems to be on the game side and i dont think its credible to let employers know i played a game and expect to get a job in that field.

Pardon my insecurities, its my first full time occupation and its something ive developed interest for but i dont have anything credible except games and thats makes me rather insecure in my employability.

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Hey everyone,

Thanks for the support and encouraging me to contact Tyler regarding becoming an ATC.

Tyler have gotten back to me and have provided really good tips and encouragement.

He has mentioned something along facility tours and i have not heard of any of these visits getting approved for individuals but i am going to try nonetheless. I have sent an email to WSSL (Seletar Airport, Singapore) inquiring about visit permission for a day and will be awaiting reply.

If it is approved, i am sure it will be a very memorial and eventful experience.

Extra note
Although i may have received tips, i still do welcome advice from anyone, i will appreciate any help i can get. In return, i hope to contribute to IF one day when i do get into this dream job.

Hey, I’m ATC in North America. And let me tell you it is an exciting and rewarding career. I am not sure what it takes to be one in singapore. But I would strongly recommend like Tyler did, to go take a tour, speak with the controllers and learn the steps from them. Controllers like people with guts and confidence, so don’t feel afraid or shy to go and get the information. The training process is usually long and intense and as you said is nothing like ATC in IF. I would however suggest that any sort of work in aviation would help you in the future. Having knowledge of aviation is good. Also if you can get the flight school books it will be a great help when it comes to training later on. (We have one called “from the ground up”.
In terms of ATC itself, you can do VFR (tower) or IFR (enroute). I would personally recommend IFR, but if you like to look out windows VFR might be good for you. I like targets on radar.

Good luck and work hard, it’s worth it.

P.S I’m IFR enroute controller in Canada


Hey Thunder,

Thanks alot for these information. Being an ATC may be different in different areas but ultimately, the goal of an ATC is the same, what i learn from anyone is bound to help me some how or another and i am grateful for your input ^^

I have taken a look on the book you suggested, from the ground up, i’ll definitely try a visit to a library soon. Ive spent a huge time on the internet i entirely forget that library is a great medium for information as well.

I have emailed WSSL for permission to visit to observe a day in the life of an ATC. Although these trips were never known to be approved or not because my local job forums do not speak of this. However i have noticed that WSSL allows video and photography only with the exception that these videos and photography put good light on WSSL and that they are entitled a copy of these materials.

If they would allow photography and video recording, im hoping they would allow someone whos sole purpose there is to watch at things happening, im not even going to record or write an article about it.

Once again, thanks for your input Thunder. As mentioned above, all inputs mean alot to me in terms of encouragement and knowledge.


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Before I was ATC i would tune up live ATC and flight tracker and listen to the local major airports, it gives you some sort of ideas, those iPad games I think definitely help your brain just seeing conflictions and working puzzles out.
But like you said it is different everywhere. I hope the ANS in Singapore can give you a tour. Also getting good aviation knowledge is good, but what is most important is to have the skills and confidences that will make you stand out compared to other applicants. It will be a long process but if you’ve got it and you have the determination, nothing can stop you.

Just keep at it and one day the dream will become true.

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Ah, i really liked listening on this, i even bought the app but it seems feed is always or almost inaudible with the exception of XXX turn left heading XXX. Im not sure if the receiver isnt in good condition or that its purposefully censored.

But recently, none of these feeds are online anymore. There are only 2 civil aerodomes and both arnt online on LiveATC.

But i do use flighttracker and aerodome charts but i lose out on being able to listen to them. Sometimes i feel elated that hey, they are using XXX departure. But too bad its just all non-existent now.

Its too bad you can listen to your local stations. You should tune up the ones around KJFK, and usually i would wait to hear a call sign and look it up on flight tracker to find exactly where the plane is.
Also, sometimes on live atc when freq are coupled you need to balance your speakers left or right to isolate one freq from the other.

Thats a great way to observe too! I’ll keep that in mind, once im out of the army, i get alot of time to myself to prepare for the next ATC recruitment.

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First update since contacting WSSL for a tower visit.

WSSL got back to me and told me that they do not have the authorization to permit such visit. They suggested i contact the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) for permission to visit and that if i am very interested to drop an inquiry on ATC job openings.

So i went over to CAAS and very boldly asked if i can get permission to visit WSSL tower to observe a day in the life of an ATC. And that im hoping to become an ATC in the near future, however, i didnt want to inquire on job opening as of yet.

Now i am awaiting reply by CAAS.

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