What Is the Starting Salary of a Flight Attendant?

Research what it takes to become a flight attendant. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median wages 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 a Flight Attendant?

Flight attendants are responsible for interacting with and serving the passengers on a flight. Before the flight they will check all emergency and safety equipment to make sure everything is working properly. They also assist passengers when boarding or disembarking from the plane. They may help passengers store luggage or locate their seat. Flight attendants communicate with passengers during the flight and advise them of times when they need to remain seated or have their seat belts on, as well as times when food or drinks will be distributed. They provide snacks, meals or beverages to the passengers, and may need to provide basic medical care for a passenger in the event of an emergency situation.

Degree Required High school diploma; some college may be preferred by employers
Training Required 3- to 6- week training provided by employer
Key Responsibilities Ensure the safety and comfort of passengers; prepare, sell and serve beverages and food; provide direction to passengers in case of emergency; prepare the cabin before flight and assist with cleaning after flight
Licensure and/or Certification Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification is required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%*
Median Salary (2015) $44,860*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Median Salaries of Flight Attendants

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that the median salary for flight attendants was $44,860 in May, 2015, with the middle half earning between $36,260 and $55,260 (www.bls.gov). However, your salary as a flight attendant could vary based on the airline you work for and your location, and your earnings are generally determined by labor contracts and professional experience. Flight attendants typically belong to a union that negotiates pay, benefits and schedules.

Though your starting salary will fluctuate based on your employer, the BLS stated that your earnings will match all other new hires whether you're experienced or not, and your raises will generally follow a regular schedule.

Job-Related Perks

Most airlines allow you to enjoy free or discounted travel for you and your family, which is a benefit that attracts many applicants for these positions. Additionally, you'll often receive hotel accommodations if you need to stay overnight at a remote destination, as well as a per diem to cover meals. Scheduling is usually flexible, and flight attendants are frequently able to trade shifts or work part-time on request.

Entry-Level Career Requirements

Every airline has different requirements for flight attendant staff; however, you must have at least a high school diploma, be at least 18 years of age and obtain certification by the Federal Aviation Administration by completing specific training. According to the BLS, many airlines request you earn a degree in a field that focuses on such areas as tourism, hospitality or communications, as well as acquire experience in customer service. Employers usually have you go through a company-specific training program that can last from 3-6 weeks. If you're interested in serving on international flights, you're generally required to be proficient in at least one foreign language.

Job Prospects

You're likely to face significant competition for flight attendant positions. According to the BLS, an employment increase of 2% was anticipated between 2014 and 2024. Demand was expected to vary based on fluctuations in the economy, and your competition could include laid-off flight attendants with seniority and experience.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The work that bartenders and waiters and waitresses do has some similarities to the work that flight attendants do. Specifically, bartenders, waiters and waitresses provide beverages or food to their patrons. They may need to accommodate special dietary needs. They do not need any formal education and typically learn through on-the-job training and experience. Customer service representatives, who must have a high school diploma, also have aspects of their work that are similar to that of flight attendants. They communicate with customers who have questions or problems with a product or service. Like flight attendants, who must often deal with unhappy or uncomfortable passengers, customer service reps must create a positive relationship between their company and its customers by providing information and offering resolutions to any problems.

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