How Can I Become an Airline Attendant?

Research what it takes to become an airline attendant. Learn about training requirements, salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering CCAF degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Airline Attendant?

Airline attendants, also known as flight attendants, are responsible for enforcing airline safety regulations and caring for the needs of passengers. While most of an airline attendant's job is routine customer service, they also need to be able to act when a problem or emergency occurs on their aircraft.

If you become an airline attendant, you will interact extensively with airline passengers to make sure they are safe and comfortable. This involves following a specific set of guidelines, including checking and informing procedures before and after the aircraft lands. You may have an unusual work schedule that involves night, weekend, or long shifts, because airlines operate every day and often have overnight flights. As you become more senior, you will have more say over your work and travel schedule.

The table below can tell you about certification, training and career projections.

Training Required On-the-job training; some postsecondary education may be preferred
Key Skills Communication, customer service, problem-solving, physical stamina
Certification Certification by the Federal Aviation Administration is required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%*
Median Salary (2015) $44,860*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Need to Become an Airline Attendant?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, airline attendants aren't required to have college degrees, but degrees are becoming a standard preference in the airline industry (www.bls.gov). If you'd like to become an airline attendant, you can acquire an associate's or bachelor's degree in a field such as psychology or hospitality. You could also enroll in an airline attendant training program offered by some colleges.

A flight attendant program offered by a community college might consist of classes in physical and cultural geography, flight attendant training, sociology, air transportation, airport operations, management communication, international studies and airline travel careers. An associate's degree-level hospitality and tourism program could include classes such as hospitality marketing, sanitation and safety, food and beverage purchasing, guest service procedures and computer literacy. A 4-year psychology degree program might offer classes such as developmental psychology, speech, biology, microcomputer applications, English, foreign language and philosophy.

After you're hired by an airline, you'll be sent to an airline training center where you'll receive specialized, hands-on training in areas such as emergency evacuation procedures, first aid, personal grooming, hijacking and emergency equipment use.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Some of your job duties will include participating in pre-flight meetings regarding weather conditions, flight length, emergency practices and flight altitudes. You'll greet passengers, take plane tickets and give presentations on how to use life jackets, oxygen masks and seat belts. You may also provide assistance and guidance to children, elderly passengers or those with disabilities. Additionally, you'll ensure that the aircraft cabin is well-stocked with food and drinks and that emergency equipment is in good working condition.

Will I Need to Become Certified?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, flight attendants must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which requires completing an approved training program and passing a proficiency test. As part of their training, airline attendants must demonstrate proficiency in first aid, security measures and emergency procedures, such as fire fighting and evacuation. Tests and performance checks are given to airline attendants every 12 months as part of ongoing training requirements set by the FAA.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Airline attending is a customer service position, though with specific training requirements due to the importance of safety on an aircraft. Other customer service positions that you could consider are bartending, or working as a customer service representative. Bartenders usually receive on-the-job training, and mix and serve drinks to customers. A customer service representative can work for any type of company. They interact directly with customers to provide information on their company's goods or services, as well as answer questions and troubleshoot problems.

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