What Are the Duties of a Flight Attendant?

Explore the career requirements for flight attendants. Get the facts about education and certification requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering CCAF degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Flight Attendant?

Flight attendants are trained to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers traveling on commercial airlines. Some of their duties include but are not limited to preparing safety briefings and equipment, serving food and beverages to passengers, and coordinating emergency care if necessary. Flight attendants are also trained to handle disruptive passengers. During a flight, they make sure the flight deck remains secure, and they conduct a cabin check upon landing. The following chart gives you an overview about a career as a flight attendant.

Degree Required High school diploma or equivalent; some employers prefer some college coursework
Training Required Training is provided by the airline
Key Skills Communication; customer service; attention to detail; ability to act under pressure or emergency situation
Licensure and/or Certification Federal Aviation Administration certification is required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%*
Median Salary (2015) $44,860*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Duties Does a Flight Attendant Have?

As a flight attendant, your duties will include greeting passengers and directing them on where to store baggage. It will be your responsibility to see that food, blankets and beverages are in good supply, and that emergency equipment is fully functional. You will ensure that federal regulations are observed before aircraft take off or landing. It will be necessary to perform demonstrations of the proper use of emergency apparatuses such as seat belts and oxygen masks. If required, you'll provide first aid treatment for passengers. Other duties may include distributing food and drink, and addressing the questions or concerns of passengers.

What Education is Required?

College degrees aren't a requirement for flight attendants, but many airlines do prefer that candidates receive formal education in areas such as communications or travel. Job preference may be given to applicants who enroll in flight attendant schools. A certificate program for flight attendants might encompass subjects such as safety and security, air travel, airline operations, customer service and communications.

If you choose to obtain an associate's degree in travel and tourism, you may study topics such as airline computer reservations, business writing, oral communication, mathematics, public relations, hospitality, meeting management and independent travel agencies. A bachelor's degree program in communications should offer courses such as foreign language, mathematics, social science, statistics, humanities and natural science.

When the hiring process is completed, it will be necessary to train at your airline's training site for up to six weeks. There, you'll be instructed in all aspects of airline regulations and policies. You'll learn procedures for water survival, terrorist threats and emergency systems operation. Training will include drills and tests designed to assess proficiency.

What Other Qualifications Might I Need?

Appearance is very important for flight attendants, and they must present a professional image at all times. Male applicants' hair shouldn't reach their collars. Airlines prefer that applicants have no apparent body tattoos and that they don't wear heavy makeup or extreme hairstyles.

Additionally, applicants should meet the minimum age requirements, which varies for different airlines, but is usually older than 18. They must be tall enough to grasp emergency equipment stored in overhead bins. Height should be in proportion to weight for both male and female applicants. Correctable vision of 20/30 is also required. Flight attendants must possess a calm demeanor in order to deal with the public. As per FAA requirements, all applicants must undergo background checks.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, flight attendants who worked in the scheduled air transportation industry earned mean annual salaries of $46,730 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Those who worked in nonscheduled transportation earned approximately $46,820. In addition to their wages, many flight attendants receive benefits such as life, medical and dental insurance, along with free fares and airline discounts.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Different aspects of flight attendants' jobs can inform alternative careers. For example, if the emergency service aspect of the role is appealing, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics also tend to sick or injured individuals in emergency settings. If the customer service side of the job is interesting, other fields are always in need of effective customer service reps to handle customer complaints and process orders. Retail workers, bartenders, and waiters all have to serve food and ensure customer satisfaction as well. Most of these careers require a high school diploma or less, though EMTs need to complete a postsecondary certificate or diploma program, and some paramedics earn an associate's degree.

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