Flight Attendant Education Requirements and Career Info

Becoming a flight attendant requires little formal education. Learn about the education and job requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Flight attendants spend much of their time making airline passengers feel comfortable; however, their primary responsibility is ensuring the safety of everyone aboard the aircraft. To that end, they must prepare first-aid kits, check and stow equipment and review safety procedures and special issues with the crew and passengers.

Required EducationHigh school diploma or equivalent
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)7% decline*
Average Annual Salary (2013)$43,860*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Flight Attendant Job Description

Flight attendants reassure passengers by assisting with in-flight safety procedures and making sure safety protocols are followed during flight. This includes checking that all seat belts are fastened, seats are upright and luggage is properly stored. In the event of an emergency, they might lead or monitor the evacuation and be called upon to perform first aid.

During routine flights, flight attendants might help passengers board the aircraft, prepare the cabin for take-off and landing and answer questions about the flight. They also might provide beverage and food service, pass out pillows and blankets and attend to requests made by passengers to help make their flight as enjoyable as possible.

Flight attendants must be in moderate physical shape, as they should be able to reach and operate emergency exits and equipment. They also spend prolonged periods of time walking, standing, kneeling, twisting, bending and working in cramped spaces. Because airlines operate 24 hours a day year-round, flight attendants often work nights, weekends and holidays.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), flight attendants typically spend about 75-90 hours a month flying and another 50 hours a month on the ground waiting for planes, preparing planes for flights and writing post-flight reports. Flight attendants might work up to 14-hour shifts; however, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that they receive nine hours of rest following any shift.

During the time spent away from home, airlines provide meal allowances and hotel accommodations for all flight crew members. The bureau reported that there were approximately 93,550 employed flight attendants in 2013, with an average annual wage of $43,860.

Education Requirements

Though a formal college education is not required to become a flight attendant, many airlines prefer to hire flight attendants with some college experience, particularly those with backgrounds in customer service-related areas, like communication, sociology or hospitality. Specific training occurs once the attendant is hired.

Flight attendant training programs usually last between three and eight weeks and cover the fundamentals of aviation, first aid, emergency procedures, customer service, food service safety and leadership skills. Flight attendants also learn to deal with disruptive passengers. For international flights, trainees study passport and customs regulations.

In addition, flight attendants are taught how to handle extreme situations, such as hijacking and terrorist threats, and they learn how to operate emergency systems and equipment during unplanned landings. Candidates who complete the training program receive the FAA's Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency and are certified as flight attendants.

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