How to Become a Flight Attendant – Career Sidekick
As a flight attendant, you have the opportunity to explore different destinations, interact with diverse passengers, and ensure their safety and comfort during flights. Also, the flight attendant salary packs quite the punch, so gear yourself up for a competitive selection process. Hence, you must study the steps needed to take to increase your chances of success. In this guide, we will outline the general steps to help you embark on your journey towards a career as a flight attendant.
Get The Right Flight Attendant Education: High School vs. College
When considering a career as a flight attendant, one common question is whether a college degree is necessary. While the minimum flight attendant requirements for education are typically a high school diploma and/or GED, pursuing a college degree can have its advantages, such as enhancing your career prospects and providing a competitive edge in the industry. However, it’s important to note that many successful flight attendants have built their careers without a college degree.
The flight attendant job description primarily focuses on customer service, safety procedures, adaptability, and emergency protocols. These skills can be acquired through comprehensive training programs provided by airlines. Also, if you are already working in a customer service role and have the required skills and experience, you may be able to get a job as a flight attendant without a degree.
Ultimately, the decision to pursue a college degree as a flight attendant is a personal one. Consider your long-term goals, financial resources, and the specific requirements of the airlines you wish to work for. Research the hiring preferences of different airlines and weigh the potential benefits against the investment of time and money required for a college education.
Essential benefits of a college degree for a flight attendant include:
- Expanded Knowledge and Skills: College education can broaden your knowledge base and develop critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. These skills can be valuable in handling challenging situations, interacting with diverse passengers, and providing exceptional service.
- Enhanced Professionalism: A college degree demonstrates a commitment to education and a level of professionalism that may be appealing to airlines during the hiring process. It showcases your ability to complete long-term goals, manage responsibilities, and thrive in an academic environment.
- Increased Opportunities for Advancement: While a degree is not a guarantee for career advancement, it can open doors to opportunities beyond the role of a flight attendant. Airlines often have various departments and positions that require higher education qualifications, such as management, training, or customer experience roles.
- Competitive Edge in the Job Market: The aviation industry is highly competitive, and having a college degree can set you apart from other candidates, providing better opportunities and a flight attendant salary. It showcases your dedication, commitment, and willingness to invest in your personal and professional development.
Choosing the Right Degree for a Flight Attendant Career | Duration & Financial Estimate
Regrettably, the flight attendant requirements do not include a specific major that will land you a job. Nevertheless, certain fields of study can provide a solid foundation and equip you with valuable skills that are relevant to the role of a flight attendant. It’s important to note that while these degree programs can provide valuable knowledge and skills, they are not prerequisites for becoming a flight attendant.
Airlines typically prioritize qualities like exceptional customer service, strong communication skills, and a professional demeanor. Therefore, even if your degree doesn’t directly align with the aviation industry, you can still pursue a career as a flight attendant by focusing on acquiring relevant experience, participating in training programs, and demonstrating the desired qualities during the hiring process. Usually, it costs between US$3,500 to US$25,000 to study to become a flight attendant.
Here are some degree alternatives for aspiring flight attendants, along with estimated timeframes for completion:
- Hospitality and Tourism: Degrees in hospitality or tourism management can provide a comprehensive understanding of the service industry, customer relations, and the importance of delivering exceptional experiences to travelers. These degrees often cover topics such as guest services, event planning, and cultural awareness, which are highly relevant to the role of a flight attendant. Typically, a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or tourism takes four years to complete.
- Public Relations and Communications: A degree in public relations or communications can enhance your interpersonal and communication skills, which are essential for effective interaction with passengers. These programs often focus on developing strong verbal and written communication abilities, crisis management, and interpersonal dynamics, all of which are valuable in a customer-facing role. A bachelor’s degree in public relations or communications usually takes four years to complete.
- Business: A degree in business can provide a broad range of skills applicable to various professional settings, including the aviation industry. Business programs typically cover areas such as management, marketing, accounting, and organizational behavior, which can contribute to your understanding of business operations and help you navigate the administrative aspects of the airline industry. A bachelor’s degree in business typically takes four years to complete.
- Psychology and Sociology: Degrees in psychology or sociology can offer insights into human behavior, social dynamics, and cultural diversity. Understanding different personality types, communication styles, and cultural sensitivities can be invaluable for providing exceptional customer service and managing interactions with passengers from various backgrounds. Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology or sociology usually take four to six years to complete, depending on the level of study.
- Education: A degree in education can equip you with skills in instruction, training, and curriculum development. These skills can be valuable if you are interested in pursuing roles in flight attendant training or crew resource management, where you may be involved in educating and mentoring new hires. A bachelor’s degree in education usually takes four years to complete.
Build Flight Attendant Skills Through Internships & Resources
Before anything, are you 18 or above? One of the first flight attendant requirements is your age, so you must be 18 years and above (preferably 21 in some cases). If you are, one of the other basic flight attendant requirements is to be able to speak the English language fluently.
Whether you’re just starting or looking to advance your career, building your flight attendant skills is key to achieving success. These skills enhance your daily job duties, and can also positively impact your flight attendant salary and lead to opportunities for career advancement.
Essential Flight Attendant Skills
- Safety Procedures: You’ll learn extensive safety protocols and procedures, including how to handle emergency situations such as evacuations, turbulence, and medical emergencies.
- Crisis Management: Flight attendants are trained to remain calm and composed in high-stress situations, making quick decisions and taking appropriate actions during emergencies.
- Customer Service: Excellent customer service skills are vital for addressing passengers’ needs, providing assistance, and creating a positive in-flight experience.
- Conflict Resolution: Flight attendants learn to manage conflicts among passengers diplomatically and professionally, ensuring a harmonious cabin environment.
- First Aid: Basic first-aid training is provided to handle minor medical incidents and injuries on board until professional medical assistance is available
- Language Skills: Depending on the airline, you may receive language training to communicate with passengers from diverse backgrounds.
- Cultural Sensitivity: Flight attendants are taught to respect and accommodate passengers’ cultural differences and preferences.
- In-Flight Services: You’ll learn how to serve meals and beverages, set up the cabin for different phases of the flight, and maintain cleanliness and orderliness.
- Problem-Solving, Time management, Flexibility, Teamwork & Communication: Flight attendants possess a versatile skill set that includes problem-solving abilities to address unexpected challenges, adept time management for on-time flights, flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, strong teamwork skills for passenger safety, and effective communication for conveying crucial information to passengers and fellow crew members.
- Professional Appearance: Maintaining a polished appearance and adhering to grooming standards is important for representing the airline and projecting a professional image.
Resources to Master Flight Attendant Skills
If you’re looking to learn flight attendant skills, there are several resources available that can help you acquire the necessary knowledge and develop the required skills.
Here are some options to consider:
- Flight Attendant Training Programs: Many airlines offer their own flight attendant training programs, which are designed to provide comprehensive training specific to their operations, safety procedures, customer service standards, and regulatory requirements. These programs typically cover a wide range of topics, including emergency procedures, passenger handling, first aid, service etiquette, and aircraft-specific training. If you are hired by an airline, they will usually provide you with the necessary training.
- Online Courses: There are online courses and training programs available that specifically focus on flight attendant skills. These courses can cover topics such as customer service, safety and emergency procedures, inflight service, cultural awareness, and aviation regulations. These courses may be self-paced or instructor-led and can provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge to prepare for a career as a flight attendant.
- Books and Manuals: There are various books and manuals available that provide insights into the responsibilities, duties, and skills required of flight attendants. These resources may cover a range of topics, including safety procedures, passenger management, service techniques, and industry-specific knowledge. Some recommended titles include “The Complete Flight Attendant Interview Workbook” and “The Essential Guide to Becoming a Flight Attendant“.
- Professional Associations: Joining professional associations, such as the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), can provide access to resources, training materials, and networking opportunities. These associations often offer workshops, conferences, and other educational events that can enhance your knowledge and skills as a flight attendant.
- Airlines’ Career Pages: Many airlines have dedicated career pages on their websites where they post job openings and provide information about their recruitment processes and benefits. Check the websites of specific airlines you’re interested in.
Here are two more useful web resources for aspiring and current flight attendants:
- Federal Aviation Administration: The FAA’s website offers regulations, guidelines, and safety information relevant to flight attendants and the aviation industry.
- Cabin Crew Wings: A comprehensive resource for aspiring cabin crew members, offering information on training, recruitment, and career development in the aviation industry.
Flight Attendant Internships to Boost Your Skills & Resume
With hands-on experience at the core of internships, they can be a valuable way to build your flight attendant skills. While internships specifically tailored to flight attendants may not be as common as in other fields, there are still opportunities available that can provide valuable insights into the industry and enhance your skills.
Here are some internship opportunities to consider:
- Airline Internship Programs: Some airlines offer internship programs that provide a comprehensive inside look into their operations, including the flight attendant department. These programs may involve rotations through different departments, including customer service, inflight services, and safety procedures. Interns may have the opportunity to shadow and assist flight attendants, observe inflight operations, and gain exposure to various aspects of the job.
- Aviation and Travel Companies: Interning at aviation or travel companies can also provide valuable experience related to the flight attendant profession. These companies may include airlines, travel agencies, tour operators, or aviation service providers. While the focus may not be solely on flight attendant duties, you can gain insights into the broader aviation industry, customer service skills, and travel operations.
- Hospitality and Tourism Industry: Since flight attendants often interact with passengers in a service-oriented capacity, internships in the hospitality and tourism industry can be beneficial. Consider internships at hotels, resorts, event management companies, or tourism boards. These opportunities can provide exposure to customer service, guest relations, event planning, and cultural awareness, which are all relevant skills for flight attendants.
- Flight Attendant Schools: Some flight attendant schools or training centers may offer internship opportunities as part of their curriculum. These internships can provide students with practical experience and exposure to the daily duties of flight attendants.
- Safety and Emergency Response Training: While not a traditional internship, pursuing safety and emergency response training programs can enhance your qualifications as a flight attendant. Look for internships or training programs offered by organizations that specialize in aviation safety, emergency response, or first aid. These programs can provide hands-on experience in handling emergency situations, familiarization with safety equipment, and understanding regulatory requirements.
- Airport Operations: Interning at an airport can also be beneficial for flight attendants. Positions like airport customer service or ground operations can help interns gain familiarity with airport procedures, passenger interactions, and the overall aviation environment.
Get the Necessary Training and Certifications
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of flight attendant courses and certifications that can boost your portfolio. These courses can be a good way to prepare for a flight attendant training program, but they cannot replace the hands-on training that you will receive in a traditional program.
To become a flight attendant, you should contact airlines directly to learn about their training requirements. Most airlines offer their own training programs, and these programs typically last for a few weeks or months. In training, you will learn about the airline’s safety and security procedures, customer service standards, and emergency response protocols. You will also have the opportunity to practice your skills in a simulated environment.
Once you have completed your training, you will need to pass a certification exam. This exam is administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Once you have passed the exam, you will be certified as a flight attendant and you will be eligible to apply for jobs with airlines.
Apply for Flight Attendant Jobs
Now that you understand the flight attendant requirements, it’s time for the next phase. The flight attendant job description is the first thing you must understand before applying for jobs.
Here are some additional tips to apply for flight attendant jobs:
- Research airlines: Not all airlines are created equal. Some airlines are known for having a better work-life balance than others. Some airlines offer more competitive pay and benefits. Do your research to find airlines that are a good fit for you.
- Tailor your resume and cover letter to each job you apply for: Highlight your skills and experience that are relevant to the flight attendant position. Be sure to mention any customer service experience you have, as well as any experience working with people.
- Prepare for the interview process: The flight attendant interview process can be competitive. Be prepared to answer questions about your customer service skills, your experience working with people, and your knowledge of the airline industry. You may also be asked to participate in a role-playing exercise.
- Follow up after the interview: Send a thank-you note to the interviewer within 24 hours of the interview. This shows that you are interested in the position and that you are professional.
- Learn a foreign language: While not required, speaking a foreign language fluently can be an asset for flight attendants. Airlines that operate international flights often prefer to hire flight attendants who speak multiple languages.
- Get in shape: Flight attendants must be able to lift and carry heavy objects, and they must be able to move around quickly and efficiently in a cramped space. Staying in shape will help you perform your job duties safely and effectively.
Suitable Job Opportunities & Companies for a Flight Attendant
Let’s explore some common career paths and types of companies that hire flight attendants:
- Commercial Airlines: The most traditional path for flight attendants is working for commercial airlines. This includes both domestic and international carriers.
- Charter Airlines: Charter airlines provide on-demand flight services, often for specific groups, such as tour groups, sports teams, or corporate clients. Flight attendants on charter airlines may work on a variety of routes.
- Private Jet Companies: Some flight attendants work on private jets, providing personalized service to high-net-worth individuals, celebrities, and corporate executives.
- Corporate Aviation: Flight attendants can find opportunities in corporate aviation, serving on corporate-owned aircraft. They ensure the comfort of executives and employees during business travel.
- Flight Attendant Training Schools: Some flight attendants transition into careers as instructors at flight attendant training schools. They train new flight attendants in safety procedures and customer service.
- Customer Service and Hospitality: Flight attendants develop strong customer service and hospitality skills, making them well-suited for roles in the broader hospitality and customer service industries.
- Travel and Tourism: Flight attendants have a passion for travel, which can lead to opportunities in the travel and tourism sector, such as travel agency positions or tour guiding.
- Aviation Management: With experience, flight attendants may pursue roles in aviation management, overseeing flight operations, cabin crew, or other aspects of airline operations.
Balancing Work & Life as a Flight Attendant
It may be challenging for flight attendants to balance work and personal time but that’s not to say it is impossible. Flight attendants typically work long hours and irregular shifts. They may work overnight flights, early morning flights, and late night flights. They may also have to work on holidays and weekends.
Flight attendants spend a lot of time away from home. They may be away for several days at a time, and they may have to work in different cities and countries.
However, flight attendants also have a lot of free time. They may have several days off in a row, and they may have the opportunity to travel to different parts of the world. They also might have some flexibility in their schedules. They might choose which flights they want to work and which days they want to be off. With careful planning and effort, it is possible to maintain a good work-life balance as a flight attendant.
Here are some tips for maintaining a good work-life balance as a flight attendant:
- Plan Ahead: Try to plan your schedule in advance so that you can know when you will be working and when you will have free time.
- Set Boundaries: It is important to set boundaries between your work life and your personal life. When you are at work, focus on your job duties. When you are at home, focus on your personal life.
- Take Care of Yourself: It is important to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Make sure to eat healthy foods, get enough exercise, and get enough sleep.
- Stay Connected with Loved Ones: It is important to stay connected with your loved ones when you are away from home. Call, text, or email them regularly.