Salary and Career Information for an Airline Steward

Sep 16, 2019

Flight attendants ensure the safety and comfort of passengers on airplanes. They require little education but must obtain FAA certification. The number of positions for flight attendants is predicted to grow faster than average from 2018-2028.

Essential Information

Airline stewards are responsible for the safety, security and comfort of passengers aboard airplanes. Competition for these positions is high and job growth for the profession is expected to decline. All stewards must undergo a training program with the company that hires them, as well as earning certification with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Required Education High school diploma
Other Requirements Short-term training program and FAA certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 10%* (for all flight attendants)
Mean Annual Salary (2018) $56,630* (for flight attendants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

Airline stewards are responsible for the accommodation of passengers aboard transport flights. They instruct passengers on the safety procedures of the plane, deliver drinks and food, relay messages from the captain and help with any problems a passenger has onboard. They assist elderly and disabled people and small children and administer first aid when needed. Stewards also deal with much of the ticketing aspect of flying and must keep records of the information.

Airline stewards begin their careers as reserves, which means that they must fly on short notice to fill in for sick or rerouted attendants. Reserve status usually lasts for at least one year but can last up to five, after which stewards are eligible to bid on the assignments they would like to fly on. Advancement to upper level positions is possible, but increasingly difficult, because more attendants are staying with companies longer today than in the past.

Education Requirements for the Career

There are no formal education requirements for airline stewards beyond earning a high school diploma. However, some colleges offer flight attendant training programs at the certificate and associate degree levels. Coursework includes aviation safety, fundamentals of flight operations, first aid and other areas. Such programs are designed to provide students with a jump-start in order to compete in this highly desirable career. Because dealing with the public is an important part of the job, a degree in travel and tourism, hospitality, nursing, communications or another people-oriented area may also prove helpful.

Training and Certification

All airline stewards must be certified by the FAA. To earn certification, individuals must undergo a training program with an airline. Training lasts between three and six weeks, depending on the airline. During this period, potential stewards learn about company and emergency operation procedures, including first aid, fire fighting, aircraft evacuation and water survival. They also learn how to deal with difficult passengers, terrorist threats and hijacking situations. Trainees are tested throughout the course. They must perform drills and duties in front of training staff and go on practice flights.

Successful completion of the program awards a Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency. Flight attendants are certified for specific types of aircraft. The FAA also conducts a thorough background check on all potential stewards.

Salary and Career Information

The BLS reported that there were 119,300 flight attendants working for U.S. airlines in 2018. Employment openings for this occupation were expected to increase 10% from 2018-2028. Open positions for stewards on major airlines typically receive a large number of applicants, and the profession is coveted by some due to the potential to travel the world.

The earnings of airline stewards depend on a number of factors, including the company that employs them, distance traveled, years of experience and rank among stewards. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary of flight attendants was $56,630 as of May 2018. An added bonus of the job is free or discounted plane tickets for stewards and their families.

A flight attendant usually requires only a high school diploma. They must become certified by the FAA for a specific aircraft by completing a course and passing tests. Their average annual salary is about $56,000.

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