I may be biased since I'm coming up on my 12th year of being a controller, but I came through the military. I'd rank them 1) Air Force, 2) USMC
, 3) Navy, 4) Army.
If you want a recommendation for colleges, I'd probably suggest a 4-year school. ERAU is, in my opinion, on the expensive side. I would have gone to UND, but didn't need to as I stated above. I have heard good things about Beaver, as well. I've heard they have their own control tower/airfield and their students have a chance to get a CTO (control tower operator) certificate. Being a CC
, I would venture to say it's a 2-year school.
Folks have mentioned "the school in MN
", but that really isn't much of an option since Congress cut their funding. There was a program called MARC that trained civilians to control enroute traffic (a Center controller). A Congressman (I can't remember) who had control of the congressional appropriations committee cut its funding and mandated the work be done at the FAA Academy in OKC....which happened to be in his district. MARC graduates went straight to a center after graduating.
The FAA hires numerous ways. How you go about getting qualified to be a controller determines how you can apply. MARC graduates were pretty much direct hires. CTI graduates have their own hiring list. I may be wrong, but I think they automatically get put on a list after graduating. How the order of merit is....well, you got me. Former military controllers (who didn't retire) have their own job announcement - called VRA (Veterans Readjustment Act). They will probably get selected by what region they want to work in and then by the points they accumulate for experience and veterans preference. Former military controllers (who retired after serving 20 years) have their own list, known as the Phoenix-20 program. Finally, there are lists from OPM (those who took the test when it was last offered around 1992) and ex-PATCO controllers. I know there are other lists, like the qualified FSS controllers, but you get the idea.
I must mention that with different hiring programs, there are different pay methods. All controllers going to OKC used to pretty much get paid the same - with certain exceptions - plus per diem. Now, CTI graduates are at the sh*t-end of the stick and get paid GS
-1 (like $8.00 an hour) without benefits and no per diem. Also, in the hiring letter, it states if you fail to certify at your facility, you'll be fired. In that case, you spent money for a degree that you can't use for a job. All the other hires are paid differently because of the experience they have, or the job announcement they were hired under.
I'll wrap this up by saying there are a couple ATC jobs sites on the net.
CTI Info - (I think it's this)..... www.atccti.com
General Hire and ATC Info...... www.stuckmic.com