Training FAQ

Q: I just joined VATUSA and ZMA. How do I get started?

A: First, welcome! We are excited to have you join our community. Our goal is to help everyone have the best experience possible while participating in this pastime. This involves a careful balance between realism and fun. First, carefully begin to review Miami vARTCC policies, procedures and training materials. This includes our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Letters of Agreement (LOAs) with other regions and Controller Downloads. Begin to familiarize yourself with airport charts, maps and related resources that deal directly with our ARTCC. Do not focus solely on Miami (KMIA), as there are many fields within our region you will virtually step foot in and should be ready to control.

Q: I have reviewed all of the Miami vARTCC materials. What’s next?

A: All new members to the ARTCC are required to complete the Miami Basic/SOP Exam before starting training. This is an OPEN BOOK assessment on the material noted above, so use the available resources as you need them! This exam must be passed with a score of 80% or above to qualify to begin training. it is based on the resources. The content is designed to ensure you have the fundamental knowledge necessary to start moving forward down the path of controller at ZMA. Instructional Staff Members are available to answer any questions you may have about the material before you take the exam. Please note you have seven (7) calendar days to complete the exam once assigned.This exam is normally assigned automatically within 48 to 72 hours after you have joined our community.

Q: Being new to ZMA, can I begin training before I pass a written exam?

A: VATSIM Miami ARTCC’s Training Program consists of two methods of competency checks: theoretical and practical. The theoretical competency checks are performed through written exams, with practical checks are performed through Over-the-Shoulder Exams (OTS) or Performance Verification Exams (PVs). Prior to beginning training on any position, you must pass the theoretical exam for that respective position. For example, if you wish to begin training on Miami Tower, you must first pass the ZMA Tower written exam.

Q: I have passed the Miami Basic/SOP exam! How do I begin training?

A: After you have successfully passed the Miami Basic/SOP exam, you can head over to the Training Booking System to request training. Be sure to review the TBS Student Guide for help with starting this process!

If you are an individual who is requesting Visiting Controlling Status, click here to review your specific requirements.

For those who are Transfer Controllers relocating to ZMA, click here to review your specific requirements.

Q: What happens if I fail an exam while at Miami, may I retake it?

A: Whether the Miami Basic SOP Exam or the Miami Tower Exam, in the event you have not achieved a passing score of 80% or higher, you will have to wait one (1) week before attempting it again. If your exam was the VATUSA S1, S2, S3 or C1 exam a different reassignment timeline may apply. You can then e-mail your Instructional Staff Member and request reassignment. Remember, only attempt the assessment once you are prepared! Remember that VATUSA exams focus on broader concepts where ZMA exams focus on our ARTCC procedures. While all exams are OPEN BOOK, Instructional Staff Members are available to answer any questions you may have about the material before you take it.

Q: Can I use vSTARS or EuroScope at ZMA?

A: There are a wide variety of approved radar clients within the world of VATSIM. However, to ensure needed flexibility with providing quality top-down service, Miami vARTCC focuses on the utilization of the VRC ATC Client. If you are having issues configuring this software, review the VRC Setup Guide. Other programs can be used in accordance with VATSIM policy, but they are not necessarily supported by our Facility Engineer. Only VRC may be used during Training Sessions.

Q: Am I assigned a trainer or get to choose myself?

A: ZMA does not assign Instructional Staff Members to specific students. To increase the availability of our training team to meet the needs of the community, students are encouraged to seek training from a variety of trainers. That being said, you can use the appropriate menus within the Training Booking System to identify sessions by staff member.

Q: I will learn everything I need to know during training sessions, right?

A: The short answer…no. Our goal is to help everyone have the best experience possible while participating in this pastime. This means independent work is an absolute necessity. The value of your own reading of materials, your own observations of other controllers and your own practice cannot be overstated. Students should monitor others on the live network, control online whenever possible and operate a wide variety of fields throughout the ARTCC. Individuals who sit at Miami International Airport looking to only control when they have 40 planes arriving routinely find themselves challenged because they do not have the needed practical experience.

Q: I have been recommended for an OTS! What happens now?

A: In an effort to ensure fidelity when it comes to student instruction, ZMA vARTCC prohibits an Instructional Staff Member from completing an Over-The-Shoulder Exam (OTS) for a student if they handled more than 50% of their training. We look for another set of eyes to be evaluating the controller during this period of time, providing a necessary new perspective to ensure the individual is ready. Therefore, this requires advanced planning by the student. They will need to provide a list of dates/times they will be available for an OTS. The trainer recommending them for the exam will notify the Training Division, who will then contact the student once it has been scheduled. Booking is confirmed through the Training Booking System. Exceptions to these requirements exist permanently for the ATM, DATM, TA, DTA and for others on a case-by-case basis.

Q: What are the approved visibility ranges for my position/client?

A: According to VATSIM’s Code of Conduct, every controller has specific visibility ranges they should be utilizing while controlling. You are not permitted to set a range higher than the maximum listed below without written approval. Failure to comply can result in disciplinary action.

  • OBS (Observer) – 300 NM
  • DEL (Clearance Delivery CAB) – 20 NM
  • GND (Ground CAB) – 20 NM
  • TWR (Tower CAB) – 50 NM
  • DEP (Departure TRACON) – 150 NM
  • APP (Approach TRACON) – 150 NM
  • CTR (Center Enroute) – 600 NM
Q: What are minimum hours?

A: In accordance with Miami Standard Operating Procedures, we have an expectation on all controllers that they will be active. Individuals should plan to control, on the network, at least a minimum of 3 hours or more per calendar month. Should an individual fail to meet this requirement, the Administrative Team reserve the right to remove the controller from the ZMA Roster. It is everyone’s personal responsibility to ensure compliance with this requirement. Given the wide variety of options that exist, claiming a lack of training availability will not be accepted as a valid excuse. If you believe you may be in danger of not meeting the requirement, have followed all instructions but still cannot obtain training, e-mail the ATM, DATM, TA and DTA immediately.

Training and Ratings

Please Note: The S1-S3 track for Minor and Major can be completed separate. You can choose to complete the Minor track before moving to the Majors. It’s the choice of the controller.

  • Set up your first training session with a Mentor or Instructor.
  • Once the instructional staff sees you are ready, he will recommend you for your minor certification (S1 Minor).
  • Complete individual practice on the network in your new position. After you have gained real network experience, request training with a Mentor or Instructor to begin your S1 Major Training.
  • After completing training sessions, you will be recommended for the Miami Major Ground Exam.
  • After completing the exam successfully, set up a training session with a Mentor or Instructor.
  • Once the mentor sees you are ready, he will recommend you for a Student Certification (S1 Major Student, Yellow).
  • Once the Instructional Staff Member finds you are ready, he will recommend an OTS for Major Ground.
  • Take the Major Ground OTS with a Mentor or Instructor. This must be scheduled in advance. The Over The Shoulder examination should not be conducted by a person who has helped you for the majority of your training sessions.
    • If successfully completed and passed, you will receive full S1 Delivery/Ground Certification.
    • If failed, complete more independent work and practice on the network. When you believe you are ready, request a training session. Once a Mentor or Instructional Staff Member sees you are ready, you can retake the OTS.
  • After completing personal practice in your new position, complete the VATUSA Computer Based Training (CBT) for S2. Be sure your practice has included experience at most/all Class B & C airports within the ARTCC.
  • Once completed, request the VATUSA S2 Exam be assigned to you by a member of the Instructional Training team.
  • After completing the exam, request training with a Mentor or Instructor on Minor Tower.
  • Once the mentor sees you are ready, he will recommend you for your minor certification (S2 Minor).
  • Complete individual practice on the network in your new position. After you have gained real network experience, request training with a Mentor or Instructor to begin your S2 Major Training.
  • After completing training sessions, you will be recommended for the Miami Major Tower Exam.
  • After completing the exam successfully, set up a training session with a Mentor or Instructor.
    • Once the mentor sees you are ready, he will recommend you for a Student Certification (S2 Major Student, Yellow).
  • Once the Instructional Staff Member finds you are ready, they will recommend an OTS for Major Tower.
  • Take the Major Tower OTS with a Mentor or Instructor.This must be scheduled in advance. The Over The Shoulder examination should not be conducted by a person who has helped you for the majority of your training sessions.
    • If successfully completed and passed , you will receive full S2 Tower Certification
    • If failed, complete more independent work and practice on the network. When you believe you are ready, request a training session. Once a Mentor or Instructional Staff Member sees you are ready, you can retake the OTS.Evretake OTS once mentor sees you are ready.
  • After completing personal practice in your new position, contact an S3 rated Mentor or Instructor to request training for S3. Be sure your practice has included experience at most/all Class B & C airports within the ARTCC.
    • After completing training sessions, you will be recommended for the VATUSA S3 Exam. Note that previous experience within all Class C airspaces as Tower and Ground is critical to expediting this process.
  • After completing the exam, request training with a Mentor or Instructor.
    • Once the mentor sees you are ready, they will recommend you for your minor certification (S3 Minor).
  • Complete individual practice on the network in your new position. After you have gained real network experience, request training with a Mentor or Instructor to begin your S3 Major Training.
    • It is critical your experience has included all TRACON regions within ZMA prior to starting this process. This knowledge is critical.
    • After completing training sessions, you will be recommended for the Miami S3 Departure/Approach Exam.
  • After completing the exam successfully, set up a training session with a Mentor or Instructor.
    • Once the mentor sees you are ready, he will recommend you for a Student Certification (S3 Major Student, Yellow).
  • Once the Instructional Staff Member mentor finds you are ready, they will recommend an OTS for Major Departure/Approach.
  • Take the Major Departure/Approach OTS with a Instructor. This must be scheduled in advance. The Over The Shoulder examination should not be conducted by a person who has helped you for the majority of your training sessions.
    • If successfully completed and passed pass, you will receive full S3 Departure/Approach Certification.
    • If failed, complete more independent work and practice on the network. When you believe you are ready, request a training session. Once a Mentor or Instructional Staff Member sees you are ready, you can retake the OTS.
  • After completing personal practice in your new position, contact a C1 rated Mentor or Instructor to request training for C1. Be sure your practice has included experience at all TRACONs within the ARTCC.
    • After completing training sessions, you will be recommended for the VATUSA C1 Exam. Note that previous experience within all regions of the ARTCC is critical to this process.
  • After completing the exam, request training with a C1 rated Mentor or Instructor.
  • Once the Instructional Staff Member mentor finds you are ready, they will recommend an OTS for Center.
  • Take the Center OTS with an Instructor. This must be scheduled in advance. The Over The Shoulder examination should not be conducted by a person who has helped you for the majority of your training sessions whenever possible.
    • If successfully completed and passed pass, you will be promoted to C1 and receive Center Certification.
    • If failed, complete more independent work and practice on the network. When you believe you are ready, request a training session. Once a Mentor or Instructional Staff Member sees you are ready, you can retake the OTS.
  • After completing personal practice as a C1, contact an Instructor to request training for Miami Oceanic. Be sure you have completely reviewed all relevant Letters of Agreement and Standard Operating Procedures before this request is made.
    • Depending on experience, a practice session is often required to review the airspace. Once the Instructor believes you are ready, you will be assigned the Miami Oceanic Exam.
    • A Performance Verification may be required prior to obtaining your Oceanic rating. This is subject to specific to the individual’s situation.
  • Note rating for Oceanic certification only is available to visiting C1 rated controllers through LOAs on file with certain ARTCCs. Please contact the ATM, DATM and TA for specific information.

Disclaimer: The information contained on all pages of this website is to be used for flight simulation purposes only on the VATSIM network. It is not intended nor should it be used for real world navigation. This site is not affiliated with the FAA, the actual Miami Center or any governing aviation body. All content contained herein is approved only for use on the VATSIM network.