For the first time in a long while, the FAA is hiring "off the street" Air Traffic Controllers. I've been in this career for 20 years now. When I started, the military was the only way into a Federal air traffic career. I chose the Marine Corps. Now, there are numerous colleges all over the country that offer air traffic degrees.
If you or someone you know is under 31, this has been a great career for me and has provided my family with a pretty comfortable lifestyle. The hours suck, you'll miss holidays with family, parties, birthdays, kids sports, school functions and so on. You may spend half your career with Tue/Wed off, you will be mentally worn down and your chances of a heart attack or a nervous breakdown may increase. You'll also need to be able to
nonstop for hours.
If you like working out complex problems and contributing to the safest, most efficient air traffic system in the world, it's a pretty fun gig. The age 31 restriction is because we are forced to retire by age 56. In order to be eligible for early retirement, you need 20 years good time (actively working airplanes) by age 50 or 25 years at any age. As an example, I am eligible for full retirement at age 49 because I will have 25 years of talking to airplanes. (and over 20 years good time) Not bad.
Salaries are as low as $50-60k for fully certified controllers at low level airports up to $150k+ at busier facilities. It's not an easy profession. Here in Denver we have a failure rate of probably 40-50%. All of our new controllers come from other airports and have experience but still cannot certify. The busier facilities no longer hire direct, you need to work your way up and move around. Failure to certify at your first facility usually results in termination. Failure to certify at your 2nd or 3rd facility usually results in being placed at another low level facility, but you won't lose your job.
Go here and search "2152" That's the air traffic code.
Bidding is open for another week and may be years before it's done like this again. The FAA will send you to OKC for school, (3-4 months) but they do pay you while you're there. Obviously, you need to pass that school. Let me know if anyone has any questions.