How To Become A Flight Attendant (Education + Training)

Flight attendants constitute one-half of any flight crew. They operate in the passengers’ cabins, and they are responsible for ensuring the well-being of the passengers and the flight crew. This profession is considered prestigious but very demanding, as attendants must work long hours, deal with stressful events, and spend a long time away from their family and loved ones.

On average, flight attendants spend 75–100 hours per month on flights and an additional 50 hours on the ground writing reports, preparing, and waiting for flights. Examples of challenges flight attendants face are turbulence events, medical emergencies, safety emergencies, and chaotic passengers.

Flight attendants earn a median annual salary of $61,640. We can say that the 10th percentile earns less than $37,020, while the 90th percentile earns above $81,400. Additional compensation will usually be given for meals and accommodation while on active duty away from home.

Other benefits include discounted fares for travel and designated seats with their airlines. However, working as cabin crew requires many qualifications and certifications. In addition, you have to maintain perfect composure when facing turbulence, high-stress situations such as medical emergencies, and managing troublesome passengers.

If you want to become a flight attendant, this article will highlight what you need to know beforehand.

Duties of Flight Attendant

Many airlines employ staff to help improve service and customer satisfaction on board. This is accomplished by offering drink, pillow, and meal services, ensuring passengers’ safety, and acting as hosts in first-class cabins.

The duties associated with this profession are as follows:

  •  Assist passengers when boarding.
  • Attend pre-flight briefings with the flight crew to discuss flight conditions and details.
  • Announce pre-take-off procedures before take-off, including when the seat belt light turns off.
  • Direct customers to their seats before take-off and ensure that everyone on board properly follows safety instructions.
  • Ensure that all in-flight safety rules are strictly adhered to during flight.
  • Serve meals to passengers.
  • Keep the cabin neat at all times. Ensure that trash is disposed of correctly and that the aircraft has no clutter.
  • Conduct a final safety check in the cabin before landing.
  • Help passengers with children and special needs. 
  • Keep customers happy by remaining available to answer questions and take special requests.
  • Look out for suspicious and unwarranted behavior and handle such situations effectively.
  • Act upon emergencies, such as during turbulence caused by weather etc.
  • Help passengers alight from the plane safely after landing.
Duties of flight attendant infographic

How to Become a Flight Attendant?

Becoming a flight attendant requires commitment and will, as the work is strenuous. To start with, individuals with an interest in this profession must be at least 18 years old. Then they can fulfill other requirements as applicable.

Below is a systematic guide to becoming an attendant at any airline:

Step 1: Have appropriate educational qualifications

Academic qualification is a primary requirement for all attendants. The minimum academic requirement is a high school diploma or GED exam. In addition, applicants can be degree holders, which improves their employability. However, a degree is not a mandatory requirement. Some degree courses that improve employability include hospitality, communication, marketing, tourism, and public relations.

Step 2: Get customer service skills and experience

Customer experience and satisfaction are always a priority for airlines. So, it is in your best interest if you have some experience in customer service-related jobs when applying to be an attendant. Typically, airlines will prefer applicants with some experience (a minimum of 2 years for most airlines) in hospitality, customer service, sales, or any relevant training. This will improve your chances of securing the position. In addition, there are other skills you should aim to develop.

For example:

Airlines want flight attendants who are familiar with the hectic routine and have experience spending long hours standing, problem-solving, providing customer service, and working overtime.

Other skills airlines will consider when vetting flight attendants include,

  • Attentiveness is needed because of the potential security and safety risks which will ordinarily require you to be alert at all times.
  • Good communication skills are also needed as you will generally have to interact with passengers from different backgrounds.
  • You must also possess decision-making skills as an attendant must be alert even during stressful situations.
  • Physicality is also often required as you will be required to push and pull luggage, carry meals, stand for long hours, and open and close overhead bins.

Step 3: Prepare a strong resume

Highlighting relevant experience and skills is necessary to capture the attention of potential employers. Relate your skill set and experience to the duties of a flight attendant. This profession is highly competitive, and major airlines often only open resume submissions for several hours. So prepare your resume in advance.

Also, search for prospective employers and learn about their specific requirements that you can incorporate into your resume. 

Step 4: Apply to desired jobs

Next, apply for your desired airlines. Applications for flight attendants may often take hours to complete because they usually involve many questions. You have to be confident and present yourself as a professional if you want to get the attention of potential employers. Each job opening will receive multiple applications; therefore, aim to project yourself as the most suitable candidate.

Step 5: Pass your flight attendant interview

Interviewing at an airline is not an easy step in the hiring process. Most attendants will have to go through several interviews with various departments before they are confirmed for training and employment. So arrive early, be prepared, and have a smile before entering the interview room.

Airlines will typically conduct background checks and drug tests first. After, you will be interviewed to have your height determined; you must be tall enough to reach overhead bins and have proportional height and weight, excellent health, and good vision. The vision ought to be correctable to 20/40.

Other factors that interviewers consider are professionalism and manners. So how you sit, talk, make eye contact, address people, etc., will also be noted. Note that interviews can be conducted in person or remotely through video. If you are doing a video interview, select a neat and quiet place, wear conservative attire, position the screen at eye level, and remove any piercings and unnatural hair color.

Step 6: Complete the airline training program

After successfully completing the interview, you will be subjected to competency and personality assessments designed to ascertain your ability to pursue a career as an attendant. Airlines usually have training that lasts 3-6 weeks on an 8-hour schedule.

The objectives of the training are to educate you on airport codes, making PA announcements, handling in-flight emergencies, and performing routine duties. In addition, you will have to complete an estimated four supervised flights during training.

Step 7: Complete certification exams

After the training, you will be required to undertake certification exams that qualify you to practice as a flight attendant for a specific airline. The passing mark for most airlines is 90%. These certifications will usually be awarded by the flight training center approved by the airline. 

Step 8: Get FAA certificate of demonstrated proficiency

Attaining airline-mandated certification is not enough to be allowed to work as a flight attendant. You need to get Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification. Most airlines will have their director of operations apply for the Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency from the FAA on behalf of the qualified attendants. Qualified attendants will typically be competent in performing first-aid and emergency evacuation duties.

Tip: After receiving the certificate, you must maintain the certification up-to-date with routine annual assessments. Once you have met all the requirements to operate as an attendant, you will be allowed to work. However, as a new attendant, you will typically be placed on reserve status, which could take several months to a few years, depending on the airline. During the reserve period, you are assigned specific days to be on call to replace absent crew members or cover extra shifts. You are paid during this period, but you will not have a regular schedule and may be limited in choosing desirable routes.  

8 steps to become a flight attendant infographic

Benefits Associated with Flight Attendant Profession

Flight attendants are well compensated. Benefits range from medical insurance to retirement packages. Some airlines also compensate the attendants in the event of death or disability. The benefits you receive will differ depending on the airline you work for and your seniority.

Typical benefits associated with the profession include the following:

  • The job allows you to travel to different places while on duty. You can even explore the places during layovers between flights. This can be several days in some cases.
  • When working for an airline, your family and friends can sometimes enjoy free travel.
  • After attaining seniority, your work schedule becomes more flexible than most jobs.
  • The profession allows you to meet and interact with new people from diverse backgrounds.
  •  As an attendant, you will often qualify for paid vacation and holidays.
  • You will typically benefit from the many opportunities for professional growth within the job.
  • You can expect medical coverage, dental care, and life insurance.
  • Attendants enjoy long-term disability coverage.
  • Flight attendants are entitled to a 401(K) retirement plan.
  • Flight attendants are generally awarded per diem to cover daily expenses while on which is normally an allowance for meals between 1.70-$2.15 per flight hour.
  • Attendants are also awarded bonuses based on their performance.
  • As an appreciation for your services, you will receive discounts on different hospitality services such as hotels, cruises, car rentals, etc. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What courses are required to become a flight attendant?

Most airline companies prefer people with at least a high school diploma or GED certificate. However, nowadays, there are many attendants with college degrees. Therefore, a college degree will significantly improve your chances of being accepted as an attendant. This is because some airlines may prefer to hire attendants with a higher level of education, such as certificates or degrees in hospitality, tourism, public relations, or communications. 

How long does it ordinarily take to become a flight attendant?

To become an attendant, you must complete the necessary training and pass the tests. While training to become an attendant may last up to 6 weeks, securing the job can take months or even years due to the profession’s competitive nature.

What kind of training is needed to become a flight attendant?

To qualify as an attendant, you need to have had training in customer service, first aid, pre-flight procedures, in-flight service, boarding and deplaning, and the safety and security protocol of an aircraft. Flight attendant training centers or an airline’s training program typically offer this training. In addition, some companies provide on-the-job training for new recruits under the supervision of an experienced attendant. 

How can I find a job as a flight attendant?

Flight attendant job openings are typically posted on the airline’s official website. You can also use online job listing platforms to find openings. Also, since some training centers are associated with specific airlines, they will usually forward their students as applicants, so you can opt to enroll in such a school.

Are there any certification requirements?

Yes. Usually, you will require a Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency issued by the FAA after completing the FAA-approved training. Other certifications include aircraft evacuation and escape, fire prevention and control, survival skills for probable crash cases, and the use of emergency equipment. 

Keep Reading