What Do Airline Attendants Do?

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.

Career Information At a Glance

Flight attendants are responsible for the safety and comfort of passengers traveling on commercial airlines. Some of their duties include but are not limited to performing safety checks and demonstrations, serving food and beverage to passengers, and coordinating any necessary emergency services. The law requires all commercial flights to provide flight attendants. The following chart gives you an overview about becoming a flight attendant.

Degree Required High school diploma or equivalent; employers may prefer to hire attendants with college degrees
Training Required 3- to 6- week training is provided by employer airline
Education Field of Study Hospitality and tourism, public relations, social science, business or communications
Certification FAA certification is required for each aircraft the attendant is assigned to
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%*
Median Salary (2015) $44,860*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would My Job Duties Be as a Flight Attendant?

Working as a flight attendant could require you to serve food to passengers, clean and inspect parts of the airplane, operate in-flight movie viewing systems, explain emergency procedures to passengers before takeoff and complete sales transactions for purchases made during the flight. You might also be responsible for preparing passengers for landings, assisting passengers with boarding or exiting the aircraft, answering questions about the flight, catering to special needs passengers and attending preflight briefings with pilots.

Flight attendants can work irregular hours, which can include nights on redeye flights and weekends. Hours could be longer on international flights. Employing airlines typically pay for your hotel accommodation, food and transportation when a layover puts you away from your base of operations overnight.

Do I Need a Degree?

You do not need a degree, although some employers prefer job applicants who hold a degree in a relevant field, such as hospitality management, communications or psychology. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires flight attendants to be certified. To earn FAA certification, you must be proficient in evacuation procedures, fire management and emergency medical aid. Most major airlines house their own training facilities and sponsor their own training programs, which you must complete before you are hired. Airline training courses could include areas such as customer service, crew resource management and aircraft-specific training.

What Is The Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated that employment for flight attendants should increase by 2% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). This is due to economic decline, reduction in workforce and layoffs. Since union contracts require laid-off flight attendants be re-hired before new flight attendants are hired, job growth will likely be slow.

How Is the Pay?

Flight attendants' median annual salary was $44,860 as of May 2015. Flight attendants who earned the most took home an annual salary of $72,090 or more, while those who earned the least made a salary of $25,930 or less.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Flight attendants have many different responsibilities that can lend themselves to other careers. Other fields are always in need of skilled customer service representatives to troubleshoot and provide information about products and services. Retail workers, bartenders, and waiters all have to serve customers and make sure they are happy. Finally, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics also tend to sick or injured individuals in emergencies.

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