Published on February 28th, 2017 | by Mark Dwyer


Interested in becoming an Air Traffic Controller?

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) have just opened the application process for the Student Controller Programme. An Air Traffic Controller is responsible for the safe, orderly and expeditious movement of air traffic on and in the vicinity of airports and in the airspace for which Ireland is responsible.

Air Traffic Controllers are recruited through our Student Controller Programme and applicants must be at least 19 years of age. They must also have passed at least five subjects in the Leaving Certificate (including Mathematics) with Grade C in at least two higher level papers or hold a comparable award at Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

The IAA are currently accepting applications and will invite those applicants who meet the minimum requirements to begin the selection process.

Apply HERE. Applications close on 15th March 2017.

Additional Information and Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications do I need to be considered for the Student Controller Programme?

You need a Leaving Certificate with 5 passes (including Maths) with Grade C in at least two Higher Level Papers. An equivalent second level qualification may be acceptable.

When and where do you advertise for student Air Traffic Controllers?

We advertise throughout the year on our website. In addition on occasion we advertise in the national media.

How do I apply to become a Student Air Traffic Controller?

You must complete the online application form. The Authority will review all applications received on a periodic basis, and based on the number of applications we will invite those applicants who meet the minimum requirements to begin the selection process.

Is there an age limit in becoming an Air Traffic Controller?

There is no upper age limit. However, you must be 21 years of age to be a licensed Air Traffic Controller and because the training takes up to 2 years an applicant must be at least 19 years of age when applying.

Where does IAA Air Traffic Control training take place?

The initial training takes place in the Authority’s Training Centre at Ballycasey Cross, Shannon, Co Clare. Students are then assigned to any of the three state airports (Cork, Dublin or Shannon) for practical training.

Do I have a choice of which airport I will be assigned to for the practical training?

No, students are assigned to Stations based on the needs at the time.

Do I get paid while participating in the Student Controller Programme?


Do the Authority pay any travel or incidental expenses during recruitment process for SCP Programme?


Does the Irish Aviation Authority provide living accommodation for the students training as Air Traffic Controllers?


How does the selection process for Student Air Traffic Controllers work?

Currently the Recruitment Process of Student Air Traffic Controllers has 4 Stages. Applicants will be required to pass each stage of the Selection Process in order to proceed to the next stage. Closing date for applications for this programme is 15th March with indicative timeline below.

Stage 1 – Screening Process

Screening of applications to determine eligibility against minimum requirements.

Stage 2 – Air Traffic Controller Computer Based Aptitude Tests

These tests comprise of two parts:

Part 1 – FEAST Test (First European Air Traffic Controller Selection Test) – To be held during April in Dublin, duration 2hrs 20mins.

The Test Battery consists of a set of tests which examine a candidate’s ability in regard to a number of items including the following:

  • Heading and Range Test
  • English Listening and Comprehension
  • Planning Ability
  • Sort Task
  • Alertness in Simple and Multi-Tasking Situations Test
  • Visualisation Test

Part 2 – DART Test (Dynamic ATC Radar Test) – To be held during June in Dublin, duration 2hrs 10mins.

Stage 3 – Work Strengths Profiling and Group Interview/Exercise

Part 1 – Work Strengths Profiling – completed online
Part 2 – Group Interview/ Exercise – to be held during August in Shannon.

Applicants will be required to attend for a group exercise.  This is a simulation exercise that requires applicants to operate as a group to address a given set of circumstances.

Stage 4 – Final Interview – to be held during September in Dublin.

Interviews for the final stage of the recruitment process will be competency based. Applicants will be expected to have some basic knowledge of the Irish Aviation Authority and the Air Traffic Control Service and the various other activities in which it is involved.  Most of this information is contained on the IAA website.

All applicants will be required to produce a Valid Passport for identification purposes throughout stages 2-4.  All applicants must also bring original certificates of educational requirements.

Medical Eligibility Requirements

Applicants who are deemed successful to participate in the Student Air Traffic Controller programme must undergo a comprehensive Medical Examination.  This will be carried out by IAA designated Doctors.  The medical criteria meet international civil aviation standards outlined here. The cost of the medical will be borne by the IAA.

Security Clearances

Full Security Clearance will be carried out for all students who are offered a place on the student programme.

Reference Checking

Reference checking may be carried out on all those who are offered a student placement. The Authority reserves the right to change the selection process and add or delete stages as deemed appropriate. Any significant changes in the foregoing process will be noted in advance on the IAA website. Applicants are encouraged to visit our website on a regular basis during the process for updates on the selection process and the recruitment schedule. Invitation to participate in the recruitment process is based on self-declaration in relation to compliance with Age, Education, English Proficiency and Legal Work Status criteria. All minimum entry requirements will be checked during the recruitment process and where documentation does not adequately support this self-declaration, the application will be deemed invalid and the candidate advised accordingly. All applicants will be required to produce a Valid Passport and a Recent Passport Sized Colour Photograph (the photograph will be retained by the IAA) for identification purposes for all stages of the recruitment process.


You need a Leaving Certificate with 5 passes (including Maths) with Grade C in at least two Higher Level Papers. An equivalent second level qualification may be acceptable. The educational standard required is a minimum of Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The National Framework of Qualifications is the single structure mechanism for recognising all education and training in Ireland. Further details are available on

Candidates who claim eligibility through the holding of other awards, including foreign qualifications that signify at least comparable learning, will have the validity of their qualifications assessed by the National Qualifications Authority. Further details are available on

Successful applicants will undergo a Training Programme of approximately 16 months duration, based initially at the Authority’s Training Centre at Ballycasey, Shannon, Co. Clare and subsequently at one of the three State Airports (Dublin, Shannon and Cork). If you successfully complete the Programme, including attainment of an ICAO rating (licence) you may be offered appointment as an Air Traffic Controller. Salary for Air Traffic Controllers is based on an incremental scale.

Where you accept an offer of employment as an ATCO with the IAA and you subsequently serve for less than 7 years you will be required to repay training costs and this will form part of your contract of employment.

Where following completion of your training you receive an offer of employment as an ATCO with the IAA and you refuse the position you will be liable to repay training costs of €85,000.

Students will incur no liability for training costs in the following circumstances:

  • Where they have their training contract terminated by the Authority
  • Where Students terminate their training contract prior to the achievement of a rating
  • Where Students are not offered employment with the Authority

In the event of you being offered a position on the Student Controller Programme, you will be required to confirm your acceptance of the salary and other conditions applying to the post of Air Traffic Controller with the IAA, in advance of your participation on the programme.

Tags: , ,

About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑