Galaxy, Checkout www.advancedatc.com we can give you the right information to see if an ATC career is right for you.
What kind of gimmick is this?
If they are sending VRA and RMC hires to OKC you can count on graduates from this type of program going as well. CTO certificates are issued after passing a very easy written test at the academy. Most of the material was gone over extensively in weeks previous to test day. This shouldn't be confused with your actual CTO (Control Tower Operators License). This is issued for the specific tower you work in, have had documented OJT time in, and a certification check-ride with the appropriate staff member. Even then there is a waiting period for all the paperwork to be processed before you obtain your actual control tower operators license. Keep in mind a CTO license is only valid for the facility you have been checked out at. Read the fine print.
This site says first year salarys are in the low to mid $40k's. nope. The ATC academy salary is $ 19,293/yr .. which computes to $9.24/hr. You get an additional ~$80/day in per diem which is supposed to cover your lodging, meals, and incidentals. Most FAA approved housing places are $45-$70/day. You will get a raise when you arrive to your facility. an ATC-7 with the standard locality rate is $37,463/yr. Your next raise will not come until you get checked out on a certain number of positions. This is a variable that is different from facility to facility. It depends on staffing, number of trainees, number of CICs, and schedules of essential staff members in the facilities training department.
I would like to point out that the FAA does hire applicants off the street for both terminal and en route facilities without charging a fee. The classes in the academy at the MMAC in OKC can be transfered over to college credits along with other training courses provided by the FAA.
The best options out there if you don't already have a degree is going to a CTI school. If it doesn't work out for you, at least you didn't throw your money away, you got a degree in something right? If you have a degree in something already try applying off the street. You would be amazed at the career backgrounds you'll run into at the academy, and be weary of gimmicks like this.
All of this information isn't geared to scare anyone away from the profession, its simply the fact of the matter and the more information someone has before they get into this fantastic profession the better. I know I wish I had all this info when I was getting started.