How to Become a Flight Attendant

By
Anne Kinsey
- January 09, 2018

See the World as You Care for Others

How to Become a Flight Attendant
DmitriMaruta/iStock/GettyImages

Flight attendants are the first smiling faces you see when you get on an airplane. They help you feel comfortable and tend to the safety of all passengers. If you love to travel, are a natural problem solver and care about safety, being a flight attendant could offer you the income and the adventure you are seeking. You will be happy to know that flight attendants earn a decent wage and do not have to attend years of school before beginning their career. Hours can vary widely, so dependable childcare will help your home life run smoothly.

Job Description

Flight attendants typically work 12- to 14-hour days and are required to have a nine-hour break between shifts. They meet with the captain an hour ahead of the flight, ensure that safety equipment is functioning, keep the cabin of the plane clean and care for passengers. Flight attendants work together to do a preflight safety demonstration, serve and sell food during the flight and assist passengers with special needs.

Education Requirements

Flight attendants are required to earn a high school diploma or the equivalent, and some employers prefer that job candidates also have some college experience. Training involves a three- to six-week course at the airline's training center, followed by a test to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. All flight attendants must be certified by the FAA to work in the air. During training, flight attendants learn the basics of everyday work, plus practice running through emergency protocols and using emergency equipment.

Industry

Flight attendants spend several days per month sleeping in hotels or shared apartments away from home. Good family support or reliable childcare makes this feasible if you have little ones at home. Flight attendants spend a lot of time on their feet and can have long hours in the air, especially on international flights. Some flight attendants rise to managerial positions over time, where they work from an office to facilitate hiring, staff management, training and scheduling.

Years of Experience

Flight attendants earn a median salary of $48,500 per year, which means that half of all flight attendants earn more than this, while the other half earns less. The bottom 10 percent earn $26,570, while the top 10 percent earn $78,650. Pay is generally based on seniority and experience.

Pay rate is largely influenced by experience for flight attendants. Expect to put in some extra effort in the beginning, being on call and working some crazy shifts. Over time, your schedule and your pay will reward you for your perseverance. Here is one prediction of how pay increases with experience:

  • Early career: $11.49 to $25.88 an hour 
  • Mid-career: $24,907 to $70,807 per year
  • Experienced: $27,284 to $86,492 per year
  • Late-career: $29,434 to $91,446 per year

Job Growth Trend

Job growth for flight attendants is expected to increase 10 percent through 2026, which is faster than in many other industries. Airlines are upgrading to larger planes that will be able to accommodate more passengers, requiring additional flight attendants to serve them. With larger planes and more people traveling, expect plentiful job opportunities and chances for advancement.

About the Author

Anne Kinsey is a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach and missionary, residing in rural North Carolina. She is the founding executive director of Love Powered Life, a nonprofit organization with the mission of creating loving community for trafficking survivors and their families. Anne has enjoyed writing for publications like Our Everyday Life, Bizfluent, Career Trend, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle. She resides in rural North Carolina with her husband, three children and a house full of furry friends.