Being an air traffic controller is one of the most stressful things ever, I was told. You have in your hands the lives of hundreds of people at a time. I have always been fascinated by airports, commercial airlines and aircraft. When I found out about a month ago that a certain Czech air traffic control authority was hiring, I sent my resume immediately.
However, things did not go the way I planned, even though I started well. Having tried a sample English language test (score: 100 percent) I was pretty confident. I mentioned in my resume my long-time interest in said issues, my extensive theoretical knowledge of all the ground and in-flight procedures and terminology.
I was prepared to move to Prague, because, as I was told, the initial training takes place in the ATC facility on the outskirts of Prague (some two miles from the touchdown zone of one of the runways at Prague Ruzyne Airport). Then the HR manager sent me a warning note. It was something I did not expect but, as it turned out, it was a necessary preventive step on their part, due to previous experience with other job candidates.
The note said that successful candidates have to undergo 18-month training. They are employees of the ATC authority during this period of time, but their gross pay is only CZK 13,000 a month. One cannot live on this salary in Prague, if one does not have a loving partner who supports the family (couple) during this period of time. Of course, I did not expect to be paid the full salary (which is pretty good), but the aforementioned amount is just not possible.
A friend of mine who loves plane spotting way more than I do said “It is a widely known fact. You should have asked me before you sent the resume. I have a friend who did it anyway. He was on macaroni and cheese almost for a whole year. Says it was worth it”.