How to become a flight attendant in 2023
Does the idea of taking to the skies as a flight attendant appeal to you? Is your dream to travel the world, broaden your horizons, and make a living doing it? Becoming a flight attendant can be an exciting and rewarding career. In order to become one, however, you must complete specific steps and know what is required of you in the role.
This article covers everything you should know about what a flight attendant is and how to become a flight attendant. We will also share the pros and cons of working in this role. Learn more below to help you decide if this job is right for you.
What is a flight attendant?
A flight attendant is a crew member responsible for passengers' safety, comfort, and general well-being on board an aircraft. They are generally the first to greet passengers when boarding and the last to say goodbye when disembarking.
Most flight attendants have at least a high school diploma and have completed multiple safety and customer service courses, as they are key components to succeeding in the role. Many are surprised to learn that a college degree isn’t actually required to become a flight attendant. While some airlines may prefer applicants with a college degree, it is ultimately unnecessary for the job.
Flight attendants typically work shifts of about 8-12 hours, with variable start and stop times based on the length of a given flight. They are responsible for preflight safety checks and informing passengers of emergency procedures during the in-flight safety briefing. Most flight attendants work for large airlines. However, smaller companies and charter flights also employ flight attendants.
Flight attendants assist with cabin services such as food and beverage service, seating arrangements, answering questions about flights, and assisting passengers in an emergency. They also help passengers with any special requests that may arise during the flight, such as arranging accommodations or providing first aid.
These professionals play a fundamental role in the operations of a plane, which is why they must pass specific requirements before being hired. Depending on the airline, flight attendants must usually be over 21 and have a valid passport. They may also be required to pass a physical examination, to ensure that they are fit for duty, as well as a background check.
Flight attendant job duties and responsibilities
Some may be surprised to learn the vast array of duties that flight attendants are responsible for. Some of the most common tasks a flight attendant may be asked to complete include:
Greet and welcome passengers
Flight attendants are one of the first points of contact on a plane, and they are often responsible for greeting passengers and welcoming them aboard. They will also assist with seating arrangements if needed.
Conducting preflight safety checks
Before a plane can take off, flight attendants are responsible for performing safety checks to ensure all passengers and crew members are properly secured and all cabin equipment is in proper working order. They will also instruct passengers on using seat belts, oxygen masks, and emergency exits.
Providing food and beverage service
Flight attendants are responsible for providing food and beverage service during the flight when requested. This includes restocking supplies, taking orders, serving drinks and snacks, and collecting payment.
Answering passenger questions
Flight attendants must be knowledgeable about the flight route, layovers, delays, and other information that passengers may need. They should be able to answer any relevant questions about the plane, the trip, and any other guest concerns.
Assisting in emergencies
In the event of an emergency, the flight attendants must be able to navigate the situation and calmly provide assistance. This includes evacuations, responding to medical emergencies, and directing passengers to follow emergency procedures.
Helping with in-flight entertainment and cabin services
Flight attendants are also responsible for assisting passengers with in-flight entertainment systems, such as televisions and music players. They may also help with other cabin services, such as providing blankets and pillows.
These are just a few of the countless tasks that flight attendants are responsible for. Flight attendants must be well-prepared, highly organized, and able to multitask efficiently in order to succeed in this role.
Steps you can take to become a flight attendant
If you've decided that becoming a flight attendant is the career path for you, there are several steps that you can take to make it happen. One advantage of working towards a flight attendant career is that many of these skills can be built up over time without obtaining a college degree.
Build customer service experience
Having prior customer service experience is essential for becoming a successful flight attendant. Building your customer service experience will help you develop the necessary skills to work closely with passengers and provide excellent customer service. This can include jobs in hospitality or retail, as well as volunteering at events and activities focused on customer service.
Gather necessary certifications
Depending on the type of airline you are applying to, you may need additional certifications or licenses. This can include a food safety certification if you serve food and drinks or a medical certificate if you provide first aid. Each organization will have its own requirements, so it's a good idea to research and find the one that best aligns with your career goals.
Create an impressive resume
When applying for a flight attendant job, your resume is one of the most critical elements employers will look at. Make sure to include your customer service experience, any certifications that you may have, and any other related skills or qualifications that could be useful in the job.
Understanding the basics of what a good resume should have and how to write one will make it easier for you to put together a competitive application. Many resources are available on the Getting Hired Resource Center to help you improve your resume skills. You can create a good first impression with potential employers with a strong resume.
Complete an online application
Most airlines have an online application process that applicants must go through in order to be considered for a flight attendant position. Make sure to provide all the necessary information and answer any questions thoroughly and honestly. One advantage of online applications is that you can often apply for multiple positions at once, increasing your chances of getting hired.
Companies like Southwest Airlines and JetBlue have a standard application process, which includes an online application, an interview, and a background check. Some airlines include a video interview as part of their hiring process, so make sure to practice and prepare for this type of interview if necessary.
Schedule an interview with the airline
Once you have submitted your application, most airlines will contact you to schedule an interview. During the interview, they may ask questions about your customer service experience, qualifications, and other related topics. Make sure to be prepared for the interview by researching the company beforehand and coming up with a few questions of your own.
Complete the necessary training
After you have accepted a flight attendant position, you will need to complete the required training. This can include safety procedures and instructions on how to use emergency equipment, customer service training, practice flights, and other topics related to the job. Training sessions are typically held at the airline's headquarters and can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the organization.
These steps will vary between airlines, but becoming a flight attendant is generally relatively straightforward. Building a high-quality customer service skill set and creating a quality resume will be essential for your success, as well as being prepared to answer any questions during the interview. With dedication and the right experience, you can land the job of your dreams and start working as a flight attendant.
Learn the pros and cons of working as a flight attendant
Flight attendant jobs have advantages and disadvantages, just like any other job. When considering becoming a flight attendant, it’s essential to consider both the benefits and drawbacks before deciding. Additionally, you should research the airline's specific requirements, such as vision, language fluency, and training.
Some of the main advantages of working as a flight attendant include the following:
The opportunity to travel the world
Few careers offer the chance to explore different countries and cultures as much as a flight attendant. Whether completing international flights or just to the next state, you’re guaranteed a new experience each time. Depending on your airline, you may also be able to secure discounts on flights for your family and friends to gain even more travel opportunities.
Flexibility with scheduling
As a flight attendant, you’ll be able to have flexibility in your schedule that other industries may not offer. Your flight schedules may change daily or week to week, allowing you the freedom to choose how you want to plan your days off. This is an outstanding opportunity for those looking for a career that will enable them to remain close to family or take on other projects.
Competitive salaries and benefits
Flight attendants are often offered competitive wages and benefits packages, depending on the airline they work for. Salaries vary based on experience and the region in which you’re flying, but the average salary for a flight attendant is $49,638 per year. Benefits packages also vary and can include health care coverage, flight discounts, and free meals during the flight.
On the other hand, some of the potential drawbacks of working as a flight attendant include the following:
Long hours away from home
Flight attendants typically have long hours and may be away from home for several days at a time. This type of job requires working overnights, weekends, and holidays, so it’s important to be prepared for long hours away from home if you decide to pursue this career.
No matter the airline, flight attendants will sometimes encounter stressful situations that can be difficult to deal with. From handling unruly passengers to dealing with a potential emergency, the job will require you to be both physically and mentally prepared for any situation that arises.
Little room for advancement
The airline industry is highly competitive, and there may be little room for growth or promotion within your current role. However, many major airlines do offer further training programs and development opportunities that can help you advance your career.
20/40 vision requirements
Due to the nature of the job, airlines require that flight attendants have perfect 20/40 vision and no color blindness. This means that even if you qualify for all the other requirements, you may only be eligible for this job if your vision meets the standards.
If you’re considering becoming a flight attendant, it’s important to weigh all of the pros and cons of the job before making your decision. It may not be a suitable career for everyone, but it can be a great way to see the world and gain flexible hours if you are prepared for the challenges that come with this role.
Job outlook for flight attendants
A flight attendant is one of the most popular jobs at airline companies, with many vying for the opportunity. Currently, the job outlook for this role is positive and is anticipated to grow 21 percent through 2031, much quicker than the average for all occupations.
This is due to the increasing necessity for more flight attendants as airlines continue to expand their services and enter new markets. With so many different opportunities available, there’s never been a more promising time to pursue a career as a flight attendant.
Make the career switch to flight attendant today
Working as a flight attendant can be an extremely gratifying experience, with the opportunity to travel worldwide while receiving competitive pay and benefits. However, it’s crucial to understand the potential drawbacks of this role and the steps needed to land this type of role.
If you're ready to start working in this career, find flight attendant jobs on Jobcase.