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The requirements to apply to the training phase of NAV CANADA (to become an air traffic controller) are listed here, in which no upper bound corresponding to the age and the education level of a potential applicant is noted.

Does that mean an over-30 Ph.D.-holding person has also chance to be picked for such position (or he may be pruned off the list of successful candidates because of being old and over-qualified)?

PS. Any potential similar piece of knowledge associated with other aviation control bodies is also appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ Not sure why having a Ph.D. would make you "over-qualified". IMO ATC is not an academic job, it's more comparable to craftmanship $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent Jun 10 '20 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ @J.Hougaard: What about the age? $\endgroup$ – Roboticist Jun 10 '20 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ It's not uncommon for ANSPs to prioritize younger applicants since statistically they are more likely to pass the training courses. I don't know what the specific situation in Canada is. $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent Jun 10 '20 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ @J.Hougaard: I implicitly assumed that the hypothetical person can pass the courses. My emphasis is mostly on selection policies (which do not depend on the skills or test results of applicants). $\endgroup$ – Roboticist Jun 10 '20 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ What you need to know as a controller it not something you are taught in school, so any former education is likely to be considered largely irrelevant, as long as you meet the minimum requirements (typically a high school diploma or equivalent). $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent Jun 10 '20 at 18:49
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Back in the late 80s I tried out for ATC in Toronto and took the initial screening test. I got an 88% score but missed the cut for the next evaluation stage because they were only taking people who scored over 90% to the next step (there were a lot of applicants). There were numerous evaluation steps.

Education per se is quite irrelevant other than general knowledge to get by in the world. They are looking for a specific mental skill set and personality traits and a doctorate in something means little. The basic requirement is a very high spatial IQ, a fantastic memory, coolness under pressure etc, and the people with those traits can come from anywhere.

You take a risk even if you get accepted for training if you quit another career to do so, because the washout rate of the course is very high (back in the day I was told only about 1/4 of the candidates starting out finished) and there's a good chance you'll end up back where you started. So be ready for that eventuality.

Controllers I've known over the years have told me that the job is not quite the meat grinder of the public imagination. If you work in a terminal area, there are rush hour periods (morning, noon, evening) where it's intense but then it eases up in between, and it's not a 8 hour straight pressure cooker. And if you have the mental skills in the first place, and once experienced, it's not as difficult for you as it would someone with more average mental abilities.

Bottom line is there is the only way to find out if you are suitable is to start the process and see where it goes. You either have the mental skills and personality traits they are looking for, or you don't, and an education in something unrelated probably won't mean that much.

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As a general answer (not pertaining just to Canada): any aspiring air traffic controller is very thoroughly tested before acceptance to a training program. Having any kind of previous education has little effect, say, higher academic merits, in my experience, may only represent someone's ability to function in academia.

Being a doctor of this or that certainly is not bad, but if an applicant holds many different credentials, it usually is, if not a red flag, a signal of the person's tendency to like studying more than doing.

ATC work is very demanding, and it requires a specific type of person: calm, focussed, extremely high tolerance to stress to mention some traits, etc. It is not a profession that I would recommend at first hand to anyone.

Regarding age, well, 50 is +30, so a bit vague definition there. If one is closer to 30, probably not a problem. Closer to 40, things are getting increasingly difficult. Thing with age limitation, or the lack of one is that declaring that age is not a limiting factor might be a politically dictated statement. Legislation probably demands that age cannot be a limiting factor when hiring people.

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    $\begingroup$ +1, though your argument on attributing Ph.D. to just studying (vs. doing) seems a bit exaggerating to me, as engineering (and in general, STEM) people, sometimes, even "do" more than "study". $\endgroup$ – Roboticist Jun 10 '20 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ I ment ppl with multiple credentials, Ph.D. in field A, a couple MSc's etc. A single Ph.D. is hardly magical or defining when it comes to persona. $\endgroup$ – Jpe61 Jun 10 '20 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ +1 Not sure about Canada, but over here in Europe, ATCs are always in a very short supply, so anyone who can pass the training is welcome. The initial screening test is relatively cheap, so it makes little sense to a priori skip candidates based on age or education. However, being older may make it harder for you to pass selection, purely due to your objective performance in the tests, not some hidden bias. $\endgroup$ – TooTea Jun 11 '20 at 9:08

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