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Flight Attendant: Career Profile and Job Outlook

Sep 13, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a flight attendant. Get an overview of the requirements, including training and job duties, to determine if this is the career for you.

If you enjoy travel and flying, a career as a flight attendant may for you. Flight attendants help ensure the safety of flights, assist passengers, and instruct passengers on aircraft safety. They also ensure passenger comfort by helping with seating, serving food or beverages, and fulfilling other needs.

Essential Information

Flight attendants work for commercial and private airlines, mainly providing direct passenger contact and service during flight. Due to the nature of the job, flight attendants must be comfortable standing for long hours, working in close quarters and being away from home for extended periods of time. Students must finish high school in order to be considered for employment as a flight attendant.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
Other Requirements Completion of company-sponsored training program; flight attendants must also obtain certification through the Federal Aviation Administration
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 10% for flight attendants
Average Salary (2018)* $56,000

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Profile of a Flight Attendant

Flight attendants work onboard airplanes to make sure passengers have a safe and comfortable trip. They have multiple duties that start before passengers board the plane. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), flight attendants meet with the flight crew before each flight to discuss expected issues, including the amount of time in flight, weather issues and passengers with special needs (www.bls.gov). Flight attendants then help passengers locate their seats and provide them with various comforts, including food, beverages, pillows and blankets. Before a plane takes off, attendants are responsible for instructing passengers on emergency procedures.

Flight attendants mainly attend to passengers, but they perform other vital tasks. For example, attendants ensure all items are stowed safely to avoid injuries during flight. They also monitor passengers and look out for potential threats, including suspicious suitcases or passengers with concealed weapons. If passengers are injured during flight, attendants are trained to provide basic emergency care.

Educational and Training Requirements

The BLS reported that many employers prefer job candidates who hold college degrees in majors such as hospitality, communications, tourism or psychology. Individuals interested in becoming a flight attendant may also want to consider a flight attendant certificate program. These programs offer training in first aid and safety, emergency procedures, aircraft design, crew resource management and standard airline operations. Individuals working on international flights may have to be fluent in a foreign language as well, according to the BLS.

Typically, airline companies send new hires to flight attendant training. These programs teach prospective attendants about airline operations and protocol, how to deal with rude passengers, safety procedures and customer service etiquette. The BLS noted trainees must pass frequent written and practical tests to receive a proficiency certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to FAA regulations, flight attendants must be certified to work on a specific type of plane, and a new certification must be attained if a flight attendant wants to work on a different type of aircraft.

Flight Attendant Job Outlook

The BLS predicted that between 2018 and 2028, employment of flight attendants would experience a two percent increase. There is predicted heavy competition for open positions because there are often too many applicants and too few open positions available. The BLS added that positions would open up as flight attendants retire or move into different careers. In May 2018, the average annual salary for flight attendants of scheduled air transportation was $56,000, the BLS reported.

Flight attendants are usually only required to have a high school diploma, but most employers prefer candidates with a college degree. They must receive certification from the FAA, including certification for each type of aircraft on which they work. Most airline companies send new hires to flight attendant training.

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