How Do I Become A Flight Attendant?

"I am a senior high school student really interested in a career as a flight attendant. I’m not really sure where to start. The information I heard seems conflicting, with some saying that I need further training and others saying I don’t have to. Can you please clarify this for me? How do I become a flight attendant?"

asked by Leona B. from Alexander City, Alabama

The minimum educational requirement to become a flight attendant is a high school diploma or its equivalent. You must also be at least 18 years old, can legally work in the United States and hold a valid passport. You must also pass a background check.

Take note that although graduating from high school is the minimum requirement of many employers, those with college degrees do have an edge. A bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism, communications, public relations and business is often an advantage. If you eventually want to be assigned to an international flight, knowledge of and fluency in a foreign language is a must.

In addition to the educational requirement, employers are more inclined to hire applicants that have one or two years of work experience in a service-related job. Holding a front-desk job in a hotel, for example, can enhance an applicant’s chances of getting hired. Positions in restaurants and resorts where they provide customer service or a job requiring constant interaction with the public, such as in the area of sales, will also be preferable.

Although there are special flight attendant academies that aspiring flight attendants can enroll in, it’s important to realize that employers provide the training to the applicants they conditionally accept. That means you don’t really need to go to these academies. The training, which takes place in the flight training center of the airline, can last anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. Topics covered during training include how to evacuate the aircraft and operate emergency equipment during emergencies. They are also taught how to administer first aid. Trainees also get instruction pertaining to their duties, the rules governing flights and company operations.

A final requirement that all trainees must undergo is going on practice flights. In order to be able to continue with their employment, the applicants must complete the training with flying colors. Once they have passed the training, they will receive a Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency from the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA. Throughout the course of their career, flight attendants must continue to retrain each year so they can keep their certification.

Take note that the FAA certification that the flight attendant receives is only for a particular type of aircraft. This means that if the flight attendant wants to work in another kind of aircraft, they must undergo a separate training for that specific aircraft.

One final advice: If you are going to your first interview for a flight attendant job, appearance matters greatly. You should look professional, making sure that your hairstyle and makeup is appropriate. Tattoos, permanent or not, and piercings that make you look like a rock star, could disqualify you from being further considered for the position.

Career Spotlight: Flight Attendant

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