Hiring Process Overview

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  • This is an introduction to the application and Hiring process for the position of FAA Air Traffic Control Specialist (Trainee). The hiring process has been in continuous change over the last several years, so this overview aims to outline the current process. This document applies to the "All Sources" type hiring announcement and follows the hiring process sequence. Rough timeframes are given where appropriate, but there is no concrete timeline for any step, and some (clearances, for example) are largely individual. Prior experience bids follow the same process, with some exceptions which are noted.

    Previously experienced controllers (52 weeks of certified ATC experience) qualify for a separate "Prior Experience" announcement. Those who qualify under the previous experience announcement may also apply under the all sources announcement, but will not receive any of the benefits of being selected under the EXP announcement.

    Those hired under previous experience bids typically do not have to attend the Academy. Individuals who qualify for the previous experience bid may also apply for the all sources bid. In the event of being selected for both, one of the offers would have to be declined in order to accept the other.

    Searching for the hiring announcement
    The FAA hires controllers periodically through hiring announcements on USAJobs.gov. Applications must be submitted during the announcement's open period. Recent announcements have been publicized on social media prior to their opening, but there is no publicly available schedule of announcements.

    To find an announcement, search for job series "2152", and make sure U.S. Citizens is marked in the "who may apply box". The job title is Air Traffic Control Specialist - Trainee, and the announcement number will be something like "FAA-ATO-16-ALLSRCE-49075". Note the "ALLSRCE", this indicates the "no experience" bid. The FAA also announces its internal bids on usajobs; if you SEE these, they are not hiring announcements for NEW hires. View a example of a previous all sources bid.

    USAJobs allows you to set a saved search that can notify you when a new listing is posted. pointSixtyFive.com will also post the announcement in a thread.

    Preparing to apply
    It is highly recommended to use the USAJobs resume builder. It contains all of the fields required for the application. Failure to include all information required will result in disqualification.

    Prepare a list of all of your addresses and jobs within the last 10 years, as you will be required to fill in this information during the clearance process. Although you will not be asked for this information during the initial application, you will be asked for at least one non-family reference with an address and a phone number.

    It is the policy of the Office of Personnel Management to not disqualify applicants from government positions unless they have accrued 3 terminations in the last 10 years. Your termination at a previous job will likely not impact your competitiveness for this position.

    An all sources announcement is broken down into two pools of applicants:
    1. Pool 1
    2. US citizen and meet at least one of the following criteria
      1. A graduate from an institution participating in the Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) program and who has received from the institution an appropriate recommendation.
      2. A veteran eligible for a Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) pursuant to section 4214 of Title 38 and can provide a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty within 120 days from the announcement closing.
      3. An eligible veteran maintaining aviation experience obtained in the course of your military experience and/or entitled to veterans' preference (must meet eligibility requirements in section 2108 of Title 5, Unites States Code).
    3. Pool 2
      All other U.S. Citizens not meeting the requirements for Pool 1

    Pool 1 eligibles may voluntarily elect to apply under pool 2.

    Prior experience requires 52 weeks of post-certified controlling live air traffic in an FAA, DoD, or FCT facility.

    If referred, HR will send information on how to schedule the AT-SA test. Usually this occurs within 60-90 days from the close of the application. It is administered at a contracted testing facility (not an FAA facility). The AT-SA is pass/fail, passing scores divided into "best qualified", "well qualified", and "qualified". Your score will be shown in the referral notification on USAJobs. Scores will not be released until the testing period closes.

    It is normal to see multiple updates, with one indicating a referred status and the other not referred. These are separate referral lists for pool 1 and 2.

    For details on the test itself, visit the AT-SA compilation thread.


    Temporary Offer Letter (TOL)

    After the AT-SA, selections are made, normally 60-90 days after the closing of the testing period. Not everyone who passes the AT-SA will receive a TOL. Those selected will receive a TOL via email. This is simply an acceptance letter; it is returned to HR saying you wish to continue or you decline the offer. There are additional forms included: applicant contact information, drug test notification, and an OF-306; all must be returned. The TOL will also contain requests for certain information, dependent on the applicant's background:

    • Previous Federal Civilian Employees: appointment and separation SF50s.
    • Current Federal Civilian Employees: Current agency HR point of contact (name, email and phone #).
    • Official Transcripts
    • DD214 showing Character of Service: Member 4 or Service 2 copy
    • SF-15 Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference
    • Disabled Veteran Civil Service Preference Letter: This letter can be obtained from https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage.

    For prior experience bids, applicants will also receive a link to fill in their previous experience information.

    Clearance Information Letter (CIL)
    After acceptance of the TOL, HR will send a CIL. This email contains contact information to begin medical and security clearances. There is no standard time frame, as these are issued periodically to keep the clearance process from becoming bottlenecked.

    Medical Clearance
    The medical clearance consists of:
    • FAA Class II medical exam
    • Drug screen
    • MMPI2

    View ATC medical requirements.

    Military members will need to complete the SF180 and DD2870 forms.

    Security Clearance
    The security clearance consists of:

    The SF86 will be completed online through eQip. For details on what information is needed, view the security clearance information thread.

    Finger prints must be completed in ink, in person at a law enforcement facility or FAA regional office. There is normally a small fee required.

    The clearance process is lengthy. Under normal circumstances, it takes several months for it to be completed after completing your responsibilities. If additional requirements are necessary (Tier II, security interview, etc), it will add a significant amount of time to the process (TII 12+ months).

    Entrance On Duty System: This is the HR system used to onboard new employees. There are electronic forms HR will assign to be completed, some during the TOL process and others after an FOL.

    Starting Employment

    Firm Offer Letter (FOL)

    After HR receives the completed clearances, they will contact applicants for the next step; setting an academy date or, for prior experience applicants, issuing a list of Facilities to rank for preference. The FOL will subsequently be issued with the academy start date, or facility assignment, along with starting Pay information.

    Facility Selection
    Facility selection occurs at the end of the academy. See the Academy FAQ for more information.
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