Flight Attendant Careers

flight attendant

Flight Attendant Careers

When one thinks of a job as a flight attendant, the first thing that comes to mind is usually an image of someone serving drinks to passengers on board a major airliner. While major airline carriers do hire a good number of flight attendants, there are also jobs available in a number of other areas. Here are some of the most prominent flight attendant careers.

Types of Flight Attendant Careers

Regional Airlines

Regional airlines are small carriers that typically fly only short distances within a particular country. They often service some of the nation’s smaller airports, and are commonly used by business travelers. Regional airlines use smaller aircrafts than the major carriers do, and there are fewer passengers on board as a result. This means there are fewer job openings; however, those who are lucky enough to land one of these flight attendant jobs can normally count on a more regular schedule than flight attendants who work for national carriers.

flight attendant

There are different types of flight attendant careers

Charter Airlines

Charter airlines exist in many of the mid-sized airports throughout the country. Planes are chartered on an as-needed basis by tour groups and business executives, and flight attendants are part of the charter package. These flights may travel only short distances or across the country. When traveling great distances, these attendants are provided with a stipend for lodging and meals. The amount of work a charter flight attendant has may be very heavy at times and extremely slow during other periods, making this one of the more exciting career for an attendant.

Corporate Flight Attendant

Many corporations have their own jets, which means they also hire their own pilots and flight attendants. Corporate flights may sometimes carry the clients of a particular corporation as well. These aircraft are normally extremely luxurious, and passengers are given very personalized service. These jobs may require flight attendants to be on call at a moment’s notice, but an added bonus is that they often pay extravagant bonuses to flight attendants from time to time.

Corporate Flight Attendant

Corporate Flight Attendant

Military Flight Attendants

The Armed Forces has a limited number of flight attendant positions. These attendants normally serve dignitaries and high ranking military officials. Landing one of these positions requires an individual to enlist in either the Air Force or Navy and take training as a crew chief. Each branch has its own unique requirements that must be met in relation to rank and special training. Interested parties will also need to have a Top Secret security clearance in order to be considered for a special duty assignment as a flight attendant. Flight attendant jobs in this field are difficult to obtain, but they pay very well.

On Call/Reserve Flight Attendants

These flight attendants must be willing to head out with little or no warning whatsoever. Flight attendants who work on an on-call basis essentially bid for a bona fide day off. If they are not granted this privilege, they are put into a pool of workers for an airline to pull from if another flight attendant is unable to make a trip. While in an on-call status, attendants must remain within two hours of their local base at any given time.

As you can see, there are plenty of unique opportunities for flight attendants to take advantage of. This means the sky is actually the limit when it comes to beginning one of these exciting flight attendant careers.

Flight Attendant Career Requirements

No other career in the hospitality industry offers an opportunity for travel and adventure like that of a flight attendant. Those who enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places may want to consider applying for one of these jobs with a major airline.

Basic Job Description

A flight attendant’s job is to make sure passengers are as comfortable as possible during their flight. They might pass out beverages and snacks, administer first aid, or answer questions about itineraries. They are responsible for attending to those with special needs and making sure unaccompanied minors are escorted to a responsible party upon arrival. Attendants also give safety briefings before the flight takes off and make sure all passengers comply with safety regulations.

Additional Duties

Some of the work a flight attendant does is very much behind-the-scenes. These workers are normally responsible for making sure food and beverage carts are well stocked and ready to go once the plane takes off. They also check first aid kits to make sure they contain the necessary supplies. In between flights, attendants may inventory cupboards to ensure there are enough clean blankets and pillows for all the passengers. They will also attend briefings before each flight that detail the safety risks and expected weather conditions during the trip.


In order to work as a flight attendant, applicants must generally be 21 years of age as these workers are often responsible for serving alcohol. Some experience working as a waitress or customer service associate is also helpful. The only education needed is a high school diploma, but those with at least an Associate’s degree stand a better chance of being hired than other. Most airlines also require a criminal background check and drug screening before someone is hired.

Skills Needed

Good communication skills are important for flight attendants as they will meet people from all walks of life. Patience is also necessary because they will often encounter language barriers during the course of a work day. A flight attendant must also have good customer service skills and be able to remain calm under pressure. This worker must be able to perform his or her duties while remaining alert to possible dangers around them in order to ensure passenger safety.

Physical Requirements

Flight attendants must meet certain height requirements since reaching into overhead luggage bins is often required. They must also be able to stand for extended periods of time. Good hearing and vision are also required, and if a flight attendant wears glasses, this must correct the eyesight to at least 20/30. Flight attendants must also be able to stoop and bend repeatedly and lift objects weighing over 50 pounds from the floor to above their heads.

There is no doubt that the work flight attendants do makes travel more enjoyable for the millions of people who fly every day. Since they are the first person passengers see whenever they board an aircraft, they tend to make a lasting impression on travelers, and often influence whether these individuals will book a flight with the same airline again.

Flight Attendant Salary

Flight attendants have strong career possibilities which include the opportunity for a competitive salary along with a host of benefits. In addition, there are plenty of chances for advancement, which can lead to even better pay and working conditions.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for flight attendants in the United States is $45,000.Those at the lower end of the scale earn approximately $25,000 annually, while those at the high end of the pay scale can gross around $65,000 each year. The pay varies greatly among airlines, and those who have the most seniority with a particular airline can expect to make a great deal more money, even if they are not in a supervisory position.


In addition to their regular salary, flight attendants can expect to receive a host of other benefits. Most airlines offer health insurance to flight attendants and their family members. These workers can normally take advantage of a retirement plan that includes employer-matched contributions. Paid vacations are available after a year of service, and attendants might also receive holiday pay or incentives for working on major holidays such as Christmas or Easter. Many flight attendants are eligible to join a worker’s union, which protects them from cuts in pay or benefits.


One of the biggest perks of being an airline attendant is free travel. Flight attendants are often required to spend a few nights each month away from home, so they normally receive an allowance for food and meals during this time. Many airlines also offer their employees the opportunity to fly for recreation during their time off. Attendants can normally purchase tickets for as little as $20 to some exciting destinations. Since flight attendants work a flexible schedule, they can be expected to have around 15 days off each month.

Top Paying States

Flight attendants who live in certain parts of the country may make more money than those in other areas. According to data supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, attendants in Michigan have the highest annual mean wage of anywhere in the country. Workers here can expect to gross around $55,000 annually. Employees in Kentucky earn slightly less as the annual mean wage here is $50,000. Flight attendants in Texas earn $50,000, New Jersey employees gross $49,000, and Arizona flight attendants make $44,000.

Best Paying Airports

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that workers who are based in certain cities can gross a larger salary. The city with the highest mean annual wage for flight attendants is Dallas, TX. Here, flight attendants average $59,000 each year. In Detroit, MI, workers earn $56,500; Warren-Troy, MI, $55,400; Houston,TX, $53,000; Cincinnati, OH, $51,500; Newark-Union, PA, $46,700; and Raleigh, NC $46,600.

Flight attendants give up a great deal of their personal life in order to pursue their careers, and they are well-compensated for doing so. Since people will always have the need to fly, these high-paying jobs are likely to be in demand for some time to come.

Flight Attendant Training

Flight attendants are put through a grueling training program by their employers, and are also required to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Although each training program is different, there are a few requirements that are common throughout the industry.

General Subjects

The FAA requires flight attendants to receive training on the role of a pilot, passenger handling and resource management. These classes are given in a classroom setting, and a written exam is required after each block of instruction. Students must pass each test by achieving a score of 90% or better in order to progress to the next level of instruction.

Airplane-specific training

Flight attendants will need to have specific training for each type of aircraft they plan to fly on. This airplane-specific training helps them to know the layout and characteristics of each type of aircraft they are working on. Students may be asked to take either a hands-on or practical exam, where they will be required to identify certain components on board the aircraft and describe some of its unique physical characteristics.

Observation Flights

Many flight attendant schools require their students to go on observation flights. During this time, students are simply observing flight attendants at work rather than actually performing certain job duties. These are normally required on weekends, and anywhere from two to four observation flights might be required. After observing flight attendants in action, individuals might then be asked to write a report about what was noticed or talk about the experience during group discussion time in class.

Initial Operating Experience

Before becoming fully certified, flight attendants must complete an IOE flight, which stands for initial operating experience. During this time, candidates will perform all the regular duties of a flight attendant while under the supervision of an experienced professional. This is done in an effort to make sure students are able to put everything they have learned thus far into practice. A written evaluation is normally given of the individual’s performance, and completing this phase of the training program is often the last step required before taking the final exam.

Final Exam

The final exam is a culmination of everything taught during flight attendant school. It can consist of two parts: a written exam and a hands-on practical. The written portion of the test is given in a classroom setting, while the practical takes place inside a mock aircraft. Instructors act as passengers who must be attended to by students. These students take care of the instructor’s needs without the assistance of a more seasoned professional. Upon successfully passing both portions of the final exam, these individuals will take part in a graduation ceremony, and will receive their certificates publicly.

Successfully passing flight attendant school is quite an accomplishment. Many successful graduates proclaim that persistence and self-discipline are the keys to making it through flight attendant training as a great deal of studying must be done during one’s off-duty time in order to successfully meet all the necessary requirements.

Best Flight Attendant Schools

One of the best ways to find work as a flight attendant is by graduating from an approved training course. A flight attendant school will teach students all the skills needed to excel at this profession, so graduates will be ready to soar on their new adventure.

The Travel Academy

Based in Eagon, Minnesota, this flight attendant school consists of four weeks of training. Classes are designed to help students pass airline-specific training that is provided by many of the major airlines. Since many people are unable to pass this training, they ultimately miss out on employment opportunities. This flight attendant school will also help graduates find a job, and placement specialists here have a high success rate at doing so.

Flight Attendant Express

This training program is recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration. This course was developed by collaborating with officials at some of the major airlines, and all of the instructors are currently employed as flight attendants. In order to attend this program, students must have a high school diploma or equivalent and be able to speak English fluently. After passing the course, graduates will be put in touch with recruiters from some of the major airlines and will also receive lifetime placement assistance.

International Air and Hospitality Academy

The International Air and Hospitality Academy is located in Vancouver, Washington, and has been in business for more than 30 years. Students will learn through a variety of methods including classroom instruction, online training, and hands-on practical exercises. During the course, students are housed off-campus in dormitory-style housing, which includes a fully-furnished kitchen with cookware and utensils. Washers and dryers are also provided in student housing, and the cost of dormitory housing is included in the price of tuition.

The Airline Academy

This flight attendant school is located in Daytona Beach, Florida. This training program has been operating since 1972, and graduates currently have a high rate of placement with national airlines. The Flight Attendant and Customer Service Training Program lasts about a month and teaches candidates about the different aspects of the field. They will learn hospitality and safety as well as the SABRE reservation system that is used so commonly in the airline industry these days. Furthermore, students who want to further their careers can return to the airline academy for more training and even a pilot’s license.

The Institute for Private Flight Attendants

This is the only training program designed specifically for those who would like to work on private aircraft. There is a strong focus on safety and hospitality during one of these training programs. The beginner course takes nine days to complete, and gives an introduction to the work of a private flight attendant. After passing the beginner course, student are eligible to take the advanced course, which provides instruction on public relations, preparing gourmet meals, and making exotic food presentations.

Flight attendant schools do an excellent job when it comes to preparing workers for employment with airline carriers. Those who are interested in pursuing this career field are sure to find there is a program that is exactly right for them.

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