Are you wondering about the requirements needed to become a flight attendant? While the exact job specifications may vary from one airline to another, most of the companies that hire flight attendants look for similar qualifications and skills. Find out more about working in this profession.
About Flight Attendant Jobs
There are a total of 86,000 employed flight attendants in the United States. Out of the thousands of applicants each year, only four percent are hired to fill the approximate 8,000 annual new hires. The appeal of travel makes this a highly competitive job, but the harsh reality of 12 to 14 hour work days often discourages many new employees.
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Requirements Needed to Become a Flight Attendant
There isn't an official set of standard requirements governing the hiring of flight attendants; however, there are some traditional requirements that most airlines follow.
Minimum Age Requirement
The traditional minimum age limit for hiring flight attendants is 18 years old; however, some airlines set 21 years as the minimum age. Federal law prohibits placing a maximum age limit due to age discrimination laws.
Education is a traditional standard of either a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. You should check education requirements on the airline's website. Some airlines now require that you have at least two-years of college or 2 years of experience in a related field such as customer service, communications, nursing, travel, tourism, or psychology.
If you work for an American-based airline, you must speak English as a first language. If you wish to be an international flight attendant, then you need to be fluent in a second language. Due to the competition of these jobs, being able to fluently speak more than one language increases your chances of being hired. You'll also need to have a current passport before you can fly out of the country.
Characteristics That May Help You
There are some characteristics or personality traits that can assist you in a flight attendant position. These include:
- Calm under pressure and stressful situations
- Conflict arbitrator
- Conscientious and dedicated
- Excellent attitude (positive thinker)
- Excellent communication skills
- Observant and aware of your surroundings
- Professional demeanor
- Recognize importance of customer service
- Safety conscious
- Team player
Physical Requirement and Job Demands
Most people don't clearly understand the physical demands of a flight attendant job. You must be able to pass regular physicals in order to work.
- Height: Most airlines have a height requirement. These can range between five feet to six feet and three inches. Other airlines only require that you can reach certain heights such as overhead bins where baggage and safety equipment are stored.
- Weight: There are no set weight standards. Instead, your weight must be proportional to your height.
- Vision: Your vision needs to be 20/30 either with or without corrective lenses.
- Other Physical Requirements: If you have tattoos or body piercings, then these must not be visible. Your makeup should be understated. Men must be clean shaven with your hair no longer than collar length.
You must be able to do a lot of walking through airports. Good balance is needed since you'll be moving about an aircraft often during turbulence. There are many dangers inside a plane cabin that can result in on-the-job injuries from stowed baggage, service carts, constant working in a pressurized cabin, and breathing in recycled air for long periods of time. Sleep deprivation can also play a major factor in accidents, since flight attendants often work very long hours.
Background Check Requirements
The FAA requires all airline employees to pass background checks. These typically are a 10-year history of your life. Some of the things investigated:
- Criminal record
- Date of birth
- Employment history
- School records
- Verify American Citizenship or legal right to work in United States
Pre-Training Courses and Schools
Each airline provides you with three to six weeks of official airline training; however, since the competition for flight attendant positions is so stiff, a niche industry of pre-training schools has emerged. These companies advertise that their training gives you the advantage over your competition, but the airline industry doesn't endorse any pre-training schools.
You're required to be certified by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). There's only one way you can achieve certification and that's by completing the airline's official training program. This includes training in:
- Emergency medical care
- Fire fighting
- Security Procedures
At the end of your training, you must pass a performance and proficiency evaluation to become certified. You're required to hold a certification for each type of aircraft you serve as a flight attendant. This additional training can take a day or as much as a few days.
Other Topics Tested For Certification
The airline will expect you to know quite a few things before you can be certified. You'll be taught these things and more during your airline training.
- Aircraft configurations
- Airline call letters
- Airline terminology
- Airport codes
- Ability to tell a 24-hour clock
- Emergency procedures and plane evacuation
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations
- First aid, including CPR
- National and International geography
Your work hours are divided into ground and flight hours. An average work month is broken down into three days of flight and three or four days off. This averages to around 15 days a month of work, which can be as many as two or three flights a day. You're required by FAA law to have nine hours of down time between work days.
Home Life Interrupted
Relocation is a job requirement, so you need to consider the kind of lifestyle your job will dictate. Your routine and life commitments will constantly be interrupted by irregular flight hours, until you gain seniority and the right to pick your flight hours. You should plan to be away from home at least one-third of the time. You can have layovers due to weather and mechanical problems. You may be on call many time, so you need a flexible home life. You need a reliable support system to accommodate any children or pets.
The requirements needed to become a flight attendant are different from typical jobs. Before deciding to pursue this profession, you need to be certain you can commit to the lifestyle.