I am currently an Air Traffic Control CTI student at Broward College in FL and will be graduating this summer. I am 23 years old and turn 24 in October. I took the ATSAT exam on April 26th and received a "Q" rating. With this rating it could take me up to 4+ years to get hired by the FAA, being that I do not get lucky and get picked up with the "Q" rating and I retake the ATSAT after 3 years with hopes of receiving a "WQ" rating. My plan, along with everyone else looking for a job as an ATC, is to work for the FAA as soon as possible. I am worried that I will not get hired by the FAA anytime soon with this rating and am looking into other options to start a career in Air Traffic Control. I plan on choosing FL and OH as my two states because I have heard the panels look at your current location and where you were born during the hiring process. I know that FL is a highly picked state so I do not know if it is the best state to pick and I also don't think a lot of people would pick OH after having lived there for 18 years but who knows. I have also seen many people with the "Q" rating have been picked up in states such as AL and WV. I have spent countless hours reading through the forums of Stuckmic and have had many of my question answered but am still left with many questions that I can not find on the net or from recruiters. My next option is to serve in a branch of the Military as an ATC and file as VRA after my enlistment. I am considering the Marines, Air Force, and Air National Guard as options. The only reason I am not considering the Navy or Army is because you do not get credit for time on the ship in the Navy and I have heard Army controllers seem to come out the least qualified for ATC of the branches. Do you think joining one of these branches would be a good option for getting hired by the FAA quicker or should I just wait and retake the test and put my life on hold for the 4+ years? My worries with the Air Force is that I would be 30 at the end of the 6 year enlistment and would have maybe one panel to get lucky and be hired by the FAA which seems highly unlikely. Though the Air Force also does not seem like a bad idea to serve in as an ATC for 20 years until retirement, being that to my understanding, you can earn up to $90,000 a year and have a high reenlistment bonus. I have also read that many people do not reenlist in the Air Force for "political" and other various reasons at the bases and that training in the Air Force as far as Watch Supervisors is not as good as it used to be. My worries with the Marines are that there are not as many bases for ATC as there are in the Air Force so it seems like it would take longer to move up to a higher-level base to make the same salary as you could in the Air Force. I would get out of the Marines at 29 leaving a little more room for employment by the FAA but if I would not get hired by the FAA I don't know if serving 20 years for the Marines would be as comfortable as the Air Force as far as pay and living conditions. What would be the differences in serving and retiring as an ATC for the Marines than the Air Force? It seems that there is a better chance at training for ATC in the Marines than in the Air Force because there are already so many ATC's in the Air Force and not as many in the Marines. Also, I have read that you would be able to receive tower and radar experience with the Marines and the Air Force will only train you in one or the other. I have not found a lot of information on the Air National Guard but from what I have read it seems that it is a 6 year enlistment for ATC and training is for 52 weeks, then you serve for one deployment. The rest of your enlistment is 2 weeks out of the year and one weekend each month. After your first deployment you are eligible to file as VRA and are able to work with the FAA upon selection. While working for the FAA you must still serve for the rest of your enlistment. This seems like the most logical and fastest way of becoming an ATC for the FAA out the branches but it is not easy finding information on the ANG. I also do not know what the hiring process is going to be like 5 to 6 years from now so it seems like the sooner you get in the better. My questions for the ANG are what is the salary for the training period and deployment? When you get deployed are you deployed as ATC? What is the salary for the 2 weeks a year and 1 weekend a month after deployment? Also, do these 6 years of enlistment count toward retirement like the other branches? I would love to serve my country along with training for my career but I just want to make sure there will still be a career in the FAA as an ATC after I have served. I am also single and do not have kids and would not mind traveling the world for a bit. I know there are a lot of questions here and I am glad that we have a community such as Stuckmic for those who have been in each of these situations and have "been there done that" and can relay their information and knowledge to those of us just starting out in the field. If you are able to answer any of these questions or just have a small bit of information or advice that you could share or even some good ATC stories, I'm sure it would not only help me but many of the other ATC prospects who want to start working in the field but don't know which direction they should take. Thank you for your time and any information you can share is greatly appreciated.