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What Is the Salary of an Airline Steward or Stewardess?

Research what it takes to become an airline steward or stewardess. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is an Airline Steward or Stewardess?

An airline steward or stewardess is trained to serve the needs of passengers before, during and after flight. They are responsible for assisting passengers boarding the plane, and also help passengers disembark when the plane arrives at its destination. Prior to flight they perform checks on the safety and emergency equipment to make sure that everything is working properly, and before the flight they also communicate to passengers about where to locate washrooms, emergency exits and other safety supplies. They communicate with passengers about amenities such as in-flight movies, beverages, snacks and meals, and they also provide these amenities to passengers. They may also help passengers store or retrieve luggage. Airline stewards or stewardesses are also known as flight attendants.

Degree Required High school diploma, some airlines may prefer some college
Training Required Training is provided by airline
Education Field of Study Hospitality, tourism, public relations, communications, social science
Licensure and/or Certification Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification is required for each aircraft assigned to
Job Growth (2018-2028) 10% growth*
Median Salary (2018) $56,000*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Duties of an Airline Steward or Stewardess?

Before the flight, you'll meet with the captain to discuss important considerations. These aspects can range from flight length and crew assignments to emergency procedures and weather conditions. You'll also take note of passengers who require special attention. You might stock your first-aid kit before ensuring the passenger cabin is clean and checking for food supplies. Once passengers start boarding, you'll want to make their comfort, security and safety your priority for the duration of the flight. Your duties may include:

  • Greeting passengers
  • Storing items in overhead compartments
  • Presenting safety procedure instruction
  • Keeping passengers in their seats, when required
  • Offering meals and beverages
  • Supplying requested items, such as blankets and pillows
  • Showing passengers how to recline seats
  • Assisting handicapped or elderly passengers
  • Answering questions from passengers

What Will My Work Environment Be Like?

As an airline steward or stewardess, you work mainly on an airplane. You could fly domestically or internationally. Your workday may not always be the same, since flights can be scheduled for any day or time. Work hours can last 12-14 hours in one day. Some work is done on the ground when you're preparing for flights, writing reports for completed flights and waiting for your plane to arrive.

The airport where you receive your assignments is your home base, which will probably be determined by seniority and location. Some people have home bases that are a distance away from where they live. In the beginning, you may work on call and only fly when needed. This schedule requires you to live close to your home base so you can report quickly to work.

What Qualifications Will I Need?

Depending on the airline, you may only need a high school diploma or equivalency to qualify for formal training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), airlines might prefer applicants who have a college degree, and some postsecondary schools offer flight attendant training programs (www.bls.gov). Regardless of their background, all hires undergo formal training supplied by the employing airline.

Airline training programs are usually held at the airline's training facilities. You'll learn about the parts of an airplane and how to operate windows, doors, seats and other equipment, as well as safety procedures and customer service. Many airline-training programs have multiple parts, covering topics that include human resources information, emergency procedures, company procedures, passenger handling and teamwork. As a trainee, you'll go on practice flights to demonstrate your newly acquired skills.

All of this training is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which administers the Flight Attendant Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency. You'll be FAA-certified once you successfully complete the formal training. This certification is required of all flight attendants who work in aircraft cabins with more than 20 seats (www.faa.gov).

Most airlines have specific requirements you'll need to meet for employment consideration. Requirements could include:

  • Being a minimum age
  • Passing a physical exam
  • Having 20/30 vision or better with correction
  • Having your hair cut to specifications
  • Being clean shaven, for men
  • Being free of visible tattoos
  • Passing a background screening

How Much Can I Earn?

The BLS reported in May 2018 that flight attendants earned a median annual salary of $56,000. Entry-level airline stewards and stewardesses made a median annual wage of $36,937 in 2019 according to Payscale.com; however, the beginning salary depends on the airline. You could earn more by working on overnight or international flights, as well as holidays. You and your family can also enjoy some perks, such as reduced, discounted or free airfares, depending on the airline. While traveling for work, you'll get per diems for meals and receive hotel accommodations supplied by the airline.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Railroad conductors and waiters and waitresses perform duties that are similar to the work that airline stewards and stewardesses do. Railroad conductors may check tickets, help passengers locate their seats, provide information about the route and schedule and assist passengers to safety in the event of an emergency. These are all tasks that airline stewards and stewardesses may perform. Railroad conductors need a high school diploma, on-the-job training, and may need to be certified. Waiters and waitresses learn through on-the-job training. They greet patrons and take their orders and deliver food to them, which are duties similar to what stewards and stewardesses do on airplanes. .