Flight Attendants: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
A high school diploma is typically required to become a flight attendant. Some airlines may prefer to hire applicants who have taken some college courses.
Training Required
Once a flight attendant is hired, airlines provide their initial training, ranging from 3 to 6 weeks. The training usually takes place at the airline’s flight training center and is required for FAA certification.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 10% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Advancement
Career advancement is based on seniority. On international flights, senior attendants frequently oversee the work of other attendants. Senior attendants may be promoted to management positions in which they are responsible for recruiting, instructing, and scheduling.
Licenses/Certifications
All flight attendants must be certified by the FAA. To become certified, flight attendants must complete their employer’s initial training program and pass an exam. Flight attendants are certified for specific types of aircraft and must take new training for each type of aircraft on which they are to work. In addition, attendants receive recurrent training every year to maintain their certification.
Median pay: How much do Flight Attendants make?
$48,500 Annual Salary

Flight attendants provide routine services and respond to emergencies to ensure the safety and comfort of airline passengers.

What do Flight Attendants do?

Flight attendants typically do the following:

  • Participate in preflight briefings with the pilots, to discuss cabin conditions and flight details
  • Conduct preflight inspections of emergency equipment
  • Demonstrate the use of safety equipment and emergency equipment
  • Ensure that passengers have their seatbelts fastened when required and that all other safety requirements are observed
  • Serve and sell beverages, meals, or snacks
  • Take care of passengers’ needs, particularly those with special needs
  • Reassure passengers during the flight, such as when the aircraft hits turbulence
  • Administer and coordinate emergency medical care, as needed
  • Provide direction to passengers, including how to evacuate the aircraft in an emergency

Airlines are required by law to provide flight attendants for the safety and security of passengers. The primary job of flight attendants is to keep passengers safe, ensuring that everyone follows security regulations and that the flight deck is secure. Flight attendants also try to make flights comfortable and stress free for passengers. At times, they may deal with passengers who display disruptive behavior.

About 1 hour before takeoff, the captain (pilot) may conduct a preflight briefing with flight attendants about relevant flight information, including the number of hours the flight will take, the route the plane will travel, and weather conditions. Flight attendants check that emergency equipment is working, the cabin is clean, and there is an adequate supply of food and beverages on board. Flight attendants greet passengers as they board the aircraft, direct them to their seats, and provide assistance as needed.

Flight attendants demonstrate the proper use of safety equipment to all passengers, either in person or through a video recording before the plane takes off. They also check that seatbelts are fastened, seats are locked in the upright position, and all carry-on items are properly stowed in accordance with federal law and company policy.

A flight attendant’s most important responsibility, however, is to help passengers in the event of an emergency. This responsibility ranges from dealing with unruly passengers to performing first aid, fighting fires, protecting the flight deck, and directing evacuations. Flight attendants also answer questions about the flight, attend to passengers with special needs, and generally assist all passengers as needed.

Before the plane lands, flight attendants once again ensure that seatbelts are fastened, seats are locked in the upright position, and all carry-on and galley items are properly stowed.

Before they leave the plane, flight attendants survey the condition of the cabin. They submit reports on any medical, safety, or security issues that may have occurred during the flight.

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