Flight Attendant Career Profile

If you have been thinking about a career as a flight attendant, you might want to consider the following profile for this particular job.

Responsibilities & Requirements

As a flight attendant, your biggest responsibility will be to make sure the passengers are safe and that specific airline safety procedures are followed. You’ll also want to make sure that you do everything possible to make sure the passengers are comfortable for the duration of the flight.

In order to become a flight attendant, you will have to be a high school graduate who is at least 18 but preferably over 21 years of age. Be aware that airlines often prefer to hire those individuals who have college degrees. You can also get a leg up on the competition if you have taken flight attendant training courses.

Also, if you are working for an international airline, you’ll probably be required to speak at least one foreign language. In addition, you will have to be a certain, minimum height so that you can easily assist passengers with placing their luggage in overhead bins. You’re vision must be 20/30 or better with correction. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that all flight attendants be certified and that all new employees have a background check. You will also have to do periodic retraining and pass an FAA safety examination in order to continue flying and keep your job as a flight attendant.

Advancement Opportunities

After being hired by a particular airline, you will usually receive three to eight weeks of formal training courses. From there, you will generally be placed on reserve status for anywhere from 1 to 10 years. While on reserve, you will be called on to fill in for the regular flight attendants who couldn’t work for whatever reason. You will also be asked to staff up any additional flights the airline might schedule. Once you are no longer on reserve status, you can bid for regular assignments and are usually chosen based on seniority. Since many flight attendants now are keeping their jobs for longer periods of time than they did in the past, it can take a quite a while to advance to a lead flight attendant, management, or supervisory position.

Job Outlook

Flight attendants currently hold approximately 100,000 jobs, and the expected growth for this career should be about the same as any other occupation; however, there are more candidates than jobs which makes being a flight attendant a very competitive career choice. Experienced flight attendants can expect to earn anywhere between $35,000 and $90,000 a year, depending on their seniority and experience. As a flight attendant, you can expect to work very sporadic hours including nights, weekends, and holidays. Most of the time you won’t work longer than 12 to 14 hours on any given flight, and as a full time employee, you will fly anywhere from 65 to 90 hours a month and spend another 50 hours a month on the ground writing reports and getting ready for flights.

Typical day

On any given day, you might be expected to meet with the captain to get briefed about the flight, special passenger issues, and any updated procedures. You will also need to check to be sure that first-aid kits are available and that any other emergency equipment is in working condition. In addition, you will greet passengers, check their tickets to help them find their seats, and show them where to stow their carryon bags and other items. On all flights, a designated flight attendant will demonstrate how to use the emergency equipment on board and explain the emergency evacuation procedures, so you want to make sure you feel comfortable speaking in front of a large group of people. You will then answer questions and ensure all airline procedures are followed by the passengers. In an attempt to help passengers enjoy their flight, you will distribute pillows, blankets, food, and beverages. In the event of an emergency, you will also be expected to be able to administer first aid or, depending on the situation, help passengers evacuate the plane. You may also need to report lost and found items, malfunctioning cabin equipment, and any medical problems that a passenger may have experience during the flight.

A career as a flight attendant can be fun and exciting, but it can also be boring and tedious, so be prepared for all aspects of this particular career path.