Challenging. Fast-paced. Exciting. These are all words that describe a typical day at Nav Canada.
It’s important for young professionals to determine whether they have the right aptitudes and skills in their field of choice. At Nav Canada, this is something that management takes very seriously. They invest a lot of time and resources into their hiring process to ensure that their team of Air Traffic Controllers and Flight Service Specialists have the qualities needed for success.
Peter Hamm is an Operations Manager at Nav Canada. He’s responsible for managing Flight Service Specialists at the Winnipeg Flight Information Centre and Kenora Flight Service Station. From filing flight plans for pilots to providing weather and safety briefings, he says it’s crucial that his team brings their A-game each and every day.
If you’re looking for a unique and challenging career opportunity, Nav Canada may be the place for you. But do you have what it takes to succeed? Read on to find out!
Skills and aptitudes
Flight Service Specialists are responsible for communicating with aircraft flying through their zone. They work with pilots, informing them of changing weather patterns and runway conditions, and helping them navigate the skies safely.
Peter started his career at Nav Canada as a Flight Service Specialist, so he is extremely familiar with the work his team does each and every day. He was initially drawn to the role because of his love of aviation, and stayed because he loved the work.
“When you tell people you work in Air Traffic Control, they think you’re that guy on the runway with the lights who directs people,” he says. “But that’s not the case – these are people who work in Flight Service Centres and Area Control. It really opened my eyes as a pilot to find out what goes on behind the scenes.”
In order to be a Flight Service Specialist, you need certain qualities. During the recruitment process, candidates take aptitude tests to determine if they are suited for this line of work. Everything from spatial reasoning to verbal communication to listening skills are tested.
Working in this role takes focus, and sometimes requires the individual to make decisions under pressure. Flight Service Specialists are given a lot of autonomy while they’re working, so it’s up to them to decide how to navigate the aircraft in their zone. However, these elements are what make the job so challenging and exciting!
“You need to work well with others and communicate successfully with your co-workers,” says Peter. “You also have to be able to make good decisions very quickly.”
A great team
Peter’s team of Flight Service Specialists are held to very high standards. In fact, Nav Canada has a national mandate that all their employees are required to follow. Each team member is expected to use professional communications and be attentive at their job 100% of the time.
Despite these expectations, Peter says that the work environment at the Flight Information Centres is anything but suit-and-tie. Because Flight Service Specialists work behind the scenes, they are mostly heard and not seen. For this reason, they are allowed to dress casually and comfortably during their shifts. On top of this, they are permitted several breaks during their shift to ensure that they are fully alert and rested.
“When you’re on break, the atmosphere is very relaxed and casual,” says Peter. “There are cafeterias, break lounges, TVs, and even quiet rooms if you need a nap.”
The best part about working at Nav Canada is that it’s more than just a job – it’s a career. Peter says that the majority of people who join the organization are there for the long haul. Between the great pay, the benefits, the positive work environment, and the growth opportunities, it’s a fantastic place for young professionals to work.
“Once you become experienced in your job, you can move up the ranks into a supervisor position,” says Peter. “You can also move into other aspects of the business, like safety or procedures… you have to have past experience to be a manager, so we always hire from within.”
Tips and advice
Nav Canada is always on the lookout for talented professionals to join their team. However, Peter says that one of the best ways to understand the job is to go beyond the online posting and experience it for yourself.
This is exactly how Peter got his first glimpse of the industry. Before submitting his application, he job shadowed an Air Traffic Controller in Vancouver, BC. From this experience, he was able to proceed with the process with a clear understanding of what the job would entail.
“The person I was sitting with showed me how everything worked,” recalls Peter. “We listened in on radios and I also visited an Air Traffic Control tower.”
Peter says that it’s very common to see Flight Service Specialists set up informal tours for potential applicants.
“Get in touch with someone at Nav Canada and come see one of our facilities,” says Peter. “That’s a fantastic place to start. Do some research, ask questions, and get to know exactly what we do.”
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a stable yet challenging career with a group of like-minded professionals, Nav Canada is a great place to be. After 12 years on the job, Peter says he still loves what he does.
“I really like working with the people,” he says. “I like the professionalism of it all, and on top of that, it’s aviation. I mean, come on – does it get any better?”