How to Become a Flight Attendant
This career is ideal for itinerant souls who want to see the world and make use of their terrific customer-service skills.
Is there any better way to harmonize your wanderlust desires and your need to make a living than to pursue a career as a member of a flight crew? The romance of global travel, the possibility of visiting exotic destinations, and the potential to meet people from all over the world—these benefits and more are at your fingertips once you learn how to become a flight attendant.
If you’re dedicated enough—and don’t mind living a nomadic lifestyle—the point of entry here isn’t too difficult, and the advantages are abundant. U.S. News & World Report featured this position in its 100 Best Jobs List, ranking it as number 4 within its “Highest-Paying Jobs Without a Degree” category, among others. Plus, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects flight attendant jobs to grow at an impressive rate of 30%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations in the nation. That means about 17,600 openings each year over the next decade.
So, are you ready to launch? Then follow our guide below.
What Does a Flight Attendant Do?
Before embarking on any flight attendant training, review the nature of this job and the kinds of tasks you may be required to undertake, such as:
- Cordially welcome passengers and direct them to assigned seats, while assisting with carry-on luggage.
- Attentively communicate with pilot and crew about preflight analysis and any special needs for certain passengers, including elderly or disabled people and minors who are traveling alone.
- Clearly explain safety equipment and procedures, while also checking that passengers are following all rules and regulations—and that they remain safe and secure.
- Carefully monitor emergency equipment and safety conditions throughout every flight.
- Diligently confirm compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governance and guidelines.
- Cheerfully provide hospitality services, including preparing and delivering food and beverages, selling duty-free items, and addressing any customer questions or concerns.
- Adeptly respond to emergencies, incidents, or onboard medical situations—as well as write and present reports to airline administrators.
Are you curious to know more about the duties associated with this career? Then check out Monster’s flight attendant job description.
How to Become a Flight Attendant
Simply put, you don’t need a higher-education degree to become a flight attendant—a high school diploma or the equivalent will suffice—and you’ll receive training or a flight attendant course from your employer.
Given that your primary role will be to safeguard and comfort airline passengers, certain traits and skills can help ensure your success: verbal communication, conflict arbitration, situational awareness, calm under pressure, a friendly disposition, and a superior ability to multitask all come with the territory.
Importantly, you must become certified by the FAA. But keep in mind that any time spent in customer service or pertinent college courses will give you an advantage, especially if you’re in a younger age bracket.
Apply to Jobs for Flight Attendants
With this career, you can really just jump right in and apply to a flight attendant position at an airline, as long as you’re at least 18 years old and eligible to work in the U.S. But first, you may want to gather a few months of hospitality or customer service experience, as that may boost your candidacy—anything from waiting tables or bartending to working in a hotel or resort to even doing a customer-support gig by phone or chat will do.
Again, you don’t need a college degree to learn how to become a flight attendant, but having taken classes in communication, public relations, or hospitality/tourism may improve your chances of getting an interview at your favorite airline. In addition, fluency (or competency) in another language may be a prerequisite to work on international flights. Remember to freshen up your resume and practice writing some cover letters. The latter should showcase your communicative abilities and your enthusiasm for this field.
You’ll also need to be physically fit and meet requirements such as:
- Be able to sit in a jumpseat, lift carry-ons, and stretch, bend, push, and pull, as needed.
- Have a valid passport.
- Have no visible tattoos or piercings.
- Have vision that is correctable to at least 20/40.
- Pass a background check and a drug test.
- Be a certain height and pass a medical exam (both depending on the airline).
Complete Your Flight Attendant Training
After you’ve accepted a new position as a flight attendant, your employer will give you directives regarding coursework at their flight training center, which typically takes around three to six weeks to complete. But these programs often fill up for extensive periods, and you may be put on a waiting list for months.
So you may be wondering: How long does it take to become a flight attendant? There’s no straightforward answer, as this career can be highly competitive, and each airline differs when it comes to the hiring and training process, as determined by the volume of candidates at any given time. Patience and perseverance are key!
Some companies will offer paid training; others won’t. Meals may be at your expense too. But, if applicable, the airline will likely cover any lodging and transportation costs.
Although your training may differ based on the kind of airline you’re joining—whether it’s a charter, regional, national, or international operation—most of the knowledge you’ll acquire will be similar:
- information on flight regulations
- aviation terminology
- job duties specific to the airline
- details related to passenger-handling
- how to deal with high-stress scenarios and problem-solve efficiently
- safety and emergency procedures (such as providing first aid, using emergency equipment, and evacuating an aircraft)
And as you get closer to the final destination (of, ahem, your courses), you may be invited to go on practice flights and then pass an exam before your employer applies for your FAA certification.
Get Your Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency
Once you’ve successfully completed your training, the airline you’re working for will notify the FAA to obtain your Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency.
After the FAA verifies and validates your record, you’ll be able to work as a professional flight attendant. However, you’ll need to become re-certified for any other types of aircraft you want to work on, and you must complete annual training to maintain your current certification.
How Much Do Flight Attendants Make?
You love to travel, but you’ve got money on your mind too. Even if you may start off on a lower end here, this is a career with opportunities for upward mobility as you reach seniority. You may then supervise other attendants, get promoted to management positions with better pay, or bid on more lucrative monthly assignments.
The median flight attendant salary is $18.31 per hour, and it can range from $12.71 to $25.87. You can look up the average salary for flight attendants in your location by searching through our easy-to-use Monster Salary Tools.
Where Do Flight Attendants Work?
The primary work environment for flight attendants is obviously within the cabins of passenger aircraft, so be prepared to spend many working hours on the flights themselves. Since you’ve read through this info about how to become a flight attendant, you’re doubtlessly realizing that the job can be exhausting. But it certainly can open up your eyes to the world and the variety of people out there too.
You may also have to work nights, weekends, and holidays, and sometimes you’ll need to leave home at a short notice if your airline is overwhelmed, so you’ll be keeping a packed overnight bag at the ready. Of course, seniority will give you more control over your schedule. Generally, flight attendants will spend 75 to 100 hours per month flying and an additional 50 hours on the ground.
As a new flight attendant, you may spend about one year on reserve status. Some airlines may have you wait even longer. But the good news is that you will be paid even when you’re on reserve. In the meantime, consider joining the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) for union perquisites.
According to the BLS, the top five states for the employment of flight attendants are:
And the top five metro areas are:
Aim High With a Globetrotting Career as a Flight Attendant
Now that you know how to become a flight attendant, set up a free Monster profile to see your career take off with no delays. We’ll give you an upgrade too by providing direct connections to recruiters for flight attendants and sending personalized notifications about relevant openings directly to your inbox. Safe travels!