Schools for Aspiring Flight Attendants: How to Choose

Flight attendants give safety instructions and ensure that passengers are comfortable. Technical and community colleges may offer Flight Attendant certificates, while colleges and universities may offer associate and bachelor's degree programs in hospitality, travel and tourism with courses that apply to the airline industry. Certificates may take only a few weeks to earn, while an associate or bachelor's degree may take between 2 and 4 years to complete, respectively.

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Flight attendants are prepared for emergency situations and are trained to evacuate passengers and administer first aid. Attendants must first go through training to become certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and while only a high school diploma is required for application, many airlines prefer applicants with a college degree related to human relations, such as hospitality, travel and tourism.

Top Schools with Flight Attendant Programs

These schools offer programs related to flight attendant training at the certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree levels.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees 2015-2016*
Glendale Community College Glendale, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $1,175 in-state, $5,855 out-of-state
Community College of Baltimore County Baltimore, MD 2-year, Public Certificate $3,712 in-district, $6,650 in-state, $9,718 out-of-state
Moraine Valley Community College Palos Hills, IL 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $3,996 in-district, $8,916 in-state, $10,326 out-of-state
Orange Coast College Costa Mesa, CA 2-year, Public Certificate $1,184 in-state, $6,584 out-of-state
Gwinnett Technical College Lawrenceville, GA 2-year, Public Certificate $2,796 in-state, $4,932 out-of-state
Ball State University Muncie, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's $9,498 in-state, $25,016 out-of-state
Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Associate's $20,109
International Air and Hospitality Academy Vancouver, WA < 2 year, Private for-profit Certificate $8,025

Source: NCES

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when selecting a degree program:

  • Look for hospitality and tourism programs with airline specific courses, such as appearance standards, airline terminology and ticketing.
  • Courses in foreign languages, cultural awareness and etiquette may be helpful, particularly during international flights.
  • Students should seek programs that offer resume building internships and public relations opportunities.
  • Some schools require hospitality students to attend community and charity events to gain public contact experience.

Flight Attendant Certificate Programs

The length of flight attendant certificate programs varies widely, from 12 to 33 credit hours. In some cases, courses required for a certificate program can be applied to an associate degree program. For those looking for a broader education within the travel industry, some schools offer certificates in travel, which can include classes in airline ticketing and communication.

Associate Degree Programs in Travel and Hospitality

Community and technical colleges offer associate degree programs in travel and hospitality, which emphasize managerial skills. Because flight attendants must know basic medical care, students will likely benefit from programs that incorporate first aid and CPR training into the curricula.

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Hospitality and Tourism

Those interested in becoming international flight attendants should be aware that airlines tend to prefer applicants who are fluent in foreign languages. Bachelor's degree programs in hospitality and tourism often have a foreign language requirement and typically offer a minor in a foreign language. Students can expect to receive a broad understanding of the tourism industry.

Prospective flight attendants should look for schools that provide internship opportunities and CPR training. Those who wish to work as international flight attendants may wish to complete a bachelor's degree program to study a foreign language, which is typically preferred by airlines.

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