What Is the Job Description of an Airline Stewardess?

Explore a career as an airline stewardess, or flight attendant. Read about education requirements, training, salary and job outlook for this career to see if it is the right choice for you. Schools offering CCAF degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Airline Stewardess Do?

Flight attendants make sure that airline passengers are safe and secure during flights. They assist travelers with special needs and provide personal services that increase the comfort of all passengers onboard a plane. They may serve snacks and/or drinks, answer questions and reassure passengers during turbulence. Before the plane takes off, flight attendants check the plane's emergency equipment and inform passengers of emergency procedures. If any emergency or medical situation arises during the flight, these professionals handle the situation and fill out reports concerning it once the plane has landed. Flight attendants work closely with the pilots to receive flight details and stay informed of flight conditions. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about this career.

Education Required High school diploma, associate's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Hospitality and Tourism, Business, Public Relations
Training 3-6 weeks of flight attendant training, prior experience in customer service in the hospitality industry typically required
Licensure Federal Aviation Administration certification required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%*
Average Salary (2015) $46,750*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What's the Definition of an Airline Stewardess?

In the past, the job of assisting passengers during commercial flights and ensuring that safety protocols are followed was specifically the job of the airline stewardess, but over time the job has changed, and now there are men and women doing the job. As a result, you won't always hear the term 'airline stewardess.' Now, it is common to see the term 'flight attendant' and have it apply to both men and women doing the job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not differentiate between male flight attendants and airline stewardesses (www.bls.gov).

What Training Is Required for an Airline Stewardess?

Airlines often seek individuals with college degrees, although the BLS notes that in some cases a high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement. Airline stewardesses and their male counterparts must have certification through the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the BLS. Training for flight attendants is available at private for-profit entities that call themselves hospitality schools; community colleges offer certificates.

In these certificate programs, you can expect to learn how an airline operates, techniques for survival of an emergency situation and rescue techniques. You may be required to take courses that outline the history of aviation. Some programs require flight attendant students to take classes for private pilots in order to learn about aircraft systems, control and operation of an aircraft, navigation and aircraft performance. Following completion of these educational programs, you must obtain certification through the Federal Aviation Administration, which demonstrates proficiency.

What Might My Duties Be?

As a flight attendant or airline stewardess, your duties could include assisting passengers in the event of emergencies; you might show them how to use tools like oxygen masks, seatbelts and life jackets or aid passengers in distress. You would be responsible for welcoming passengers, serving beverages and snacks and helping everyone on the plane remain comfortable and calm during a flight. In the event that a child is without an adult, you may be assigned to assist that child in addition to working with other passengers.

How Much Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, there were an estimated 108,510 flight attendants (male and female) working in the United States. The median income for flight attendants, as of that year, was $44,860 but those at the top 10% of the pay scale earned $72,090 or more. Top-paying states were Texas, where flight attendants earned an average of $53,070 a year, followed by Florida, where the average salary was $50,770, and Tennessee, where flight attendants took home $49,470 annually.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Bartenders and retail sales workers are related positions that do not require any formal education. Bartenders serve alcoholic and mixed drinks to customers who are of age. Depending on their place of work, they may also take food orders. Retail sales workers try to sell an array of products to consumers. They may specialize in selling cars, clothing, appliances and more. Customer service representatives are also related, but require a high school diploma or equivalent. These workers answer customer questions, address their complaints, place orders and perform other tasks to ensure customer satisfaction.

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