Airlines use flight attendants to provide personalized services during flight and ensure the comfort and safety of all airline passengers and crew members. If you like traveling a lot, then you might find this career fulfilling as you will travel to numerous travel destinations. It is mandatory for airlines to hire flight attendants since all commercial flights with over 19 passengers should have them on board. Not just for commercial flights, they are also required on select military and business flights. Let's talk more about a job description of a flight attendant.

If this sounds like the career of your choice, then you might be interested in knowing about what it takes to become a flight attendant. You might be interested in knowing what you must study or how much you will be remunerated. If you are seeking such information, then this article is for you as it highlights the flight attendant job description, the educational and certification requirements, career outlook, and salary information.

Flight Attendant Job Description

inside of an airplane with a flight attendant

Image Source: Pixabay

The main responsibility of flight attendants is ensuring all safety regulations during flight are followed. About an hour before takeoff, the pilot briefs them on the flight details. The briefing entails the expected flight time, unusual weather or flying conditions, and any special passengers onboard.

Before passengers board the plane, flight attendants typically work with other airline personnel to make sure the plane is in perfect working order. The attendants will also check that the in-cabin emergency systems and the first aid equipment work properly and that the plane is stocked with basic flight amenities including snacks and beverages.

Flight attendants make sure passengers are all seated in their respective sitting positions. They also help passengers to properly store their luggage under the seats and in the overhead bins. Once the passengers are seated, and the luggage is properly stored, the attendants read the federally regulated and approved safety brief. The brief is vital as it provides emergency information whenever there needs to be an evacuation or when the plane loses power. They are also involved in showing how to use oxygen masks, seat belts, and flotation devices.

Once the plane departs, the top priority of attendants is ensuring the safety of passengers on board. If there is turbulence or an evacuation, they assist and reassure the passengers. In case a patient becomes ill and needs first aid, they help attend to the needs of the person depending on the emergency.

Attendants check the cabin in intervals of 20 to 30 minutes to see whether there are any safety concerns or issues. They are also involved in performing duties that make the flying experience more comfortable for the passengers. These duties include serving drinks and snacks, handing out headsets, answering questions presented by the passengers, and even help in cleaning the cabin.

Summary of Duties and Responsibilities

  • ​Conducting pre-flight inspections to ensure that emergency equipment is operational
  • ​Taking part in pre-flight pilot briefings where they discuss flight details and cabin conditions
  • ​Showing the use of in-flight emergency and safety equipment
  • Reassuring passengers during the flight, for example, when aircraft turbulence occurs
  • Ensuring that passengers observe all safety requirements
  • Serving and selling meals, snacks, and beverages
  • Ensuring that the passengers are correctly secured in seatbelts and that they are fastened as required
  • Providing direction to passengers, for example how to evacuate the plane during an emergency
  • Taking care of the needs of passengers especially those with special needs
  • Coordinating and administering emergency medical care as needed

Working Conditions

inside of an airplane aisle

Image Source: Pixabay

As airlines operate around the clock, all year round, attendants can work late into the night, on weekends, and even during holidays. The agreement between the employee's union and the airline determines the total monthly and daily working time. On-duty time, flight attendants are typically limited to 12 hours per day but could extend to a maximum of 14 hours. On a monthly basis, attendants fly 65-85 hours, and spend about 50 hours on the ground writing reports of completed flights, preparing aircraft for flight, and waiting for them to arrive.

Since they work aboard planes, they may be away from home for at least a third of the time. During this time, the airline provides hotel accommodations, and an allowance for meal expenses. In addition, attendants should be reliable, flexible, and willing to relocate. Almost all the flight attendants start working on reserve status or on call.

The combination of discount airfares and free time provides attendants the opportunity to travel and see new places. Despite the new and awesome experiences, the work can be strenuous and trying. They are required to stand during flight and must remain efficient and pleasant regardless of how demanding passengers might be or how tired they may become.

Attendants are also susceptible to injuries as the job requires them to work in a moving aircraft. Another downside is that medical problems may arise due to irregular sleeping and eating patterns, dealing with stressful passengers, working in an in-flight environment that is pressurized, and breathing recycled air.

Requirements

blue diploma and graduation toga

​Image Source: Pexels

1. Educational Requirements and Training

Even though a high school diploma is the only required degree to become an attendant, airlines prefer candidates with college degrees. The most viable candidates are those majoring in fields related to customer service, communication, and tourism.

All airlines typically provide formal training programs to all newly hired attendants. The programs will last a month and the new hires are trained in handling emergency situations, the procedures of providing first aid, and how to perform basic in-cabin duties. Employment depends on successfully completing the training program. After completion, flight attendants receive FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency.

The new hires are assigned a carrier’s base and placed on reserve so they can fill in when the aircraft needs extra crew members. When the attendants are on reserve, they should be very flexible and ready to fly on call. After they have served a year or more on reserve status, they receive regular assignments. New hires have the last pick of flying times and routes. The most experienced attendants are allowed to pick their base and flying routes first.

2. Work Experience

Attendants need about a year or two of work experience in a service occupation before getting their first job. The experience includes customer service positions, for example in resorts, hotels, and restaurants. Sales experience also counts, or other positions that may require close public contact and a focus on customer service. This helps them develop the skills required to be a successful attendant.

3. Certifications

​The FAA certifies flight attendants. For you to be certified, you must complete the initial employer's training program and then pass an exam. Attendants are usually certified for specific aircraft types and must undergo new training for each type of plane on which they work. Besides, attendants receive recurrent training annually for them to keep their certification.

4. Career Advancement

​This is based on seniority. As far as international flights are concerned, senior attendants will oversee other attendants. Senior attendants are typically promoted to managerial positions in which they schedule, instruct, and recruit.

Salary and Job Outlook

airplanes in an airport terminal

Image Source: Pixabay

Salary Information

​According to the BLS, the median annual salary for attendants was $50,500 in May 2017. The lowest 10% earned less than $26,860 but the highest 10% earned more than $79,520. In May 2017, as reported by the BLS, the median annual wages for attendants in the top industries were:

Scheduled air transportation

about $50,710

Support activities for air transportation

about $46,580

​Non-scheduled air transportation

​about $42,520

Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the number of jobs for flight attendants in 2016 was 116,600. The BLS projects that there will be a job growth of 10% between 2016 and 2026, which is faster compared to the average of all occupations. This translates to about 11,900 jobs within the same period.

Most of the airlines are replacing smaller aircraft with new and larger ones to accommodate more passengers. This change may increase the number of attendants needed on some routes. Regarding job prospects, competition for jobs will remain strong as the occupation attracts more applicants than job openings. The job prospects are best for those with college degrees. Note that most opportunities come from the need of replacing attendants who leave the workforce.

Conclusion

Flight attendants are involved in a variety of tasks, including conducting preflight inspections to ensure that emergency equipment is operational, ensuring that passengers observe all safety requirements, taking part in preflight pilot briefings, showing the use of in-flight emergency and safety equipment, reassuring passengers during the flight, and serving and selling meals, snacks, and beverages during flight.

Attendants work at night, on weekends, and even during holidays. A high school diploma is the only required degree to become an attendant, but airlines are increasingly seeking candidates with college degrees. Attendants need about a year or two of work experience in a service occupation before getting their first job. They should be certified by the FAA. The salary is good since they earn about $50,500 annually. Jobs will grow by 10% between 2016 and 2026. We hope that this article has adequately addressed flight attendant job description, the requirements, career outlook, and salary information.