If you’ve dreamed of working on an airplane, becoming a flight attendant may be the right career for you. As a flight attendant, you will assist passengers on airplanes with many different things. You will help them feel safe, serve them food and drinks, and take care of other needs.
The career of a flight attendant can be rather rewarding. You may get to fly to unique locations and earn a nice living in the process. Before deciding to take this career path, understanding what flight attendants do is important. Let’s look at the job duties and the steps necessary to become a flight attendant.
Common Job Duties of a Flight Attendant
As a flight attendant, your main duty is taking care of airline passengers. You are responsible for the comfort and safety of your passengers. In addition, you might work on a business or commercial aircraft.
Before the plane takes off, you will be updated with weather conditions, travel time, and any special passenger needs. As the main contact between passengers and the airline, you will answer questions, help communicate with the pilot when necessary, and ease concerns.
Common duties of a flight attendant include:
- Helping during the boarding process
- Assisting passengers with stowing luggage
- Looking for suspicious passenger behavior
- Assisting those with special health needs and smaller children
- Educating passengers on safety protocol and procedures
- Securing the cabin for take-off and landing
- Providing snacks, drinks, headphones, pillows, and other items to passengers
- Helping to keep passengers calm during delays and turbulence
- Assisting passengers during an emergency
- Helping passengers exit the plane safely after landing
You will be the most important person for passengers. As a flight attendant, passengers will count on you for many different things.
How to Become a Flight Attendant in 7 Steps
Step #1 – Meet All Basic Requirements
Before you can move forward to become a flight attendant, you must meet the basic requirements, including:
- You will need to be at least 18 years of age
- You need to be able to stand for long periods of time
- Don’t get any visible tattoos or piercings outside of one earring per ear lobe
- Be able to pass a criminal background check
- Be able to pass a pre-employment drug test
- Obtain a United States Passport for international flights
- Finish high school or earn your GED
If you can meet these basic guidelines, you can move on to the next step. Every airline is a bit different and may have other requirements for flight attendants, as well.
Step #2 – Complete the Necessary Education
You will need at least a high school diploma or GED to become a flight attendant. You won’t need a bachelor’s degree, but it can be helpful. A degree in hospitality, public relations, tourism, marketing, or communications can help open up doors for this career path.
It’s also possible to complete a flight attendant training program. This can help you gain the necessary skills and knowledge to become a flight attendant. With a training program, you will learn the job responsibilities, airline standards, and flight regulations necessary.
Flight attendant training will also include handling emergencies. You will gain skills, such as security, aircraft safety procedures, first aid, and evacuation methods.
Step #3 – Get Some Work Experience
It’s not easy to become a flight attendant. This is a very competitive field, and you will need some good work experience to help.
Most airlines look for candidates with at least two years of hospitality experience or experience in customer service. They want to see that you can work long hours on your feet, provide great customer service, work overtime, and handle problems correctly.
Working at a hotel or as a waiter can help you gain the necessary experience. Airlines want candidates with great customer service skills. If you’ve worked as a waiter or waitress, you will likely be a good candidate for this type of job.
Step #4 – Prepare for Multiple Interviews
You will go through a series of interviews to become a flight attendant. It might start with a group interview or a phone screening. Once you’ve made it past the first interview, expect a one-on-one interview to be next. In some cases, you will go through multiple one-on-one interviews before you’re hired.
Make sure to dress appropriately for all your interviews and take the time to prepare. The interview process will also include a background check and drug test. You will also need to be tall enough to reach the overhead bins and have vision of at least 20/40 with correction or without.
Video interviews are common with flight attendants. They may be live, or they may not. If you’re asked to shoot a video interview, consider your surroundings and make sure your camera is stable.
Step #5 – Complete Your Airline Training Program
A flight attendant training program will come after you’ve been hired. This type of training will last three to six weeks. You will receive classroom instruction on job duties, flight regulations, and company operations.
You will also learn how to handle emergencies, airplane evacuations, and how to use different emergency equipment. Flight attendant training often includes working with oxygen masks, evacuation slides, and flotation devices. Practice flights will be the final part of the training.
Airlines commonly pay for and arrange lodging and transportation to the training center. You may need to pay for your meals, however. Training can be paid or unpaid, depending on the airline.
Step #6 – Earn Your Certificate
Once you’ve completed your training, you will earn a Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency from the FAA. This certificate shows that you’re trained and ready to become a flight attendant. You will need to apply for the certificate through the FAA. Once you have received it, you’re ready to start working.
Annual training is necessary for all flight attendants to keep their certificates up to date.
Step #7 – Begin Your Flight Attendant Career
You will start with an entry-level position and will likely have very little say in your first assignment. Then, depending on the airline you work for, you may work out of a specific hub. It’s common for new flight attendants to work on reserve status for at least one year.
Reserve status means you’re basically on-call. You will need to have an overnight bag ready to go and expect to replace absent crew members at a moment’s notice. When you’re on reserve, you will be paid for the time, whether you end up getting called in or not.
After gaining some seniority, you can bid on monthly assignments as a flight attendant.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Flight Attendant
How much do flight attendants make each year?
The average salary of a flight attendant is about $59K per year. They also gain access to benefits, such as paid housing, health insurance, and a 401(k). Flight attendants working for top-paying companies can earn as much as $70K per year.
The location you work out of will also impact your salary. For example, Atlanta is the highest-paying city for flight attendants, followed by Houston and Dallas.
Top-flight attendants can make as much as $85K per year. However, this comes with seniority and being a top employer.
How old do I have to be to become a flight attendant?
You must be at least 18 years of age to work as a flight attendant. This is an FAA requirement. Some airlines require you to be older. It’s also common for airlines to require at least two years of experience in customer service or hospitality. Most flight attendants will be at least 20 years of age.
How long will it take me to become a flight attendant?
The training program, once hired, is about three to six weeks long. After that, most flight attendants will spend two more years working in the hospitality industry before interviewing to become flight attendants.
It’s common for this type of position to take a few years to obtain. It’s a very competitive field, and open positions go very fast.
What type of schedule do flight attendants work?
Flight attendants tend to have a very erratic schedule. As a result, newer flight attendants will spend time on-call. After gaining some experience, you can bid for new assignments each month, which means your schedule can change from one month to another.
It’s common for flight attendants on reserve to have 10 days off each month. However, line holders can get as many as 20 days off a month.
Your schedule may also depend on the trip you will be taking. Some return immediately, while others return after a few days. The average layover for flight attendants is 12 hours.
What are the common perks flight attendants receive?
As a flight attendant, you will receive excellent travel perks. With some airlines, you can take advantage of free standby flights for yourself and your family. Even if the flights are not free, they are usually very deeply discounted.
You will also be provided hotels when you have layovers. It’s common to receive discounts on hotels, cruises, and rental cars, as well.
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