For young people interested in air traffic control careers with the FAA and who view military service as providing a boost toward that goal, which branches are most and least likely to get them there? In other words, how do the branches of the U.S. armed forces compare by headcount of ATC specialists working for the FAA?
All military services in the US have Air Traffic Control MOS codes and training, except the Coast Guard. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all have it.
I don't know of any source of data that tells me if an ATC controller is a veteran, and of what branch of service. As far as I know, the FAA does not discriminate on the basis of which branch you were in when you were awarded the ATC MOS upon completion of training.
The FAA doesn't care which service an applicant was in. They only care about direct ATC experience. From a recent FAA job announcement for experienced controllers (closed Dec 9, 2018):
THIS ANNOUNCEMENT IS FOR CANDIDATES WHO HAVE MAINTAINED AT LEAST 52 CONSECUTIVE WEEKS OF AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL EXPERIENCE INVOLVING THE FULL-TIME ACTIVE SEPARATION OF AIR TRAFFIC AFTER RECEIPT OF AN ATC CERTIFICATION OR FACILITY RATING WITHIN 5 YEARS OF APPLICATION WHILE SERVING AT:
- a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control facility; OR
- a civilian or military air traffic control facility of the Department of Defense; OR
- a tower operating under contract with the FAA under section 47124
What they want is at least one year active ATC experience in full time separation of aircraft within the last 5 years.
The announcement also includes information on veteran's preference.