Educational Requirements: A Look at What Airlines are Looking For
One of the reasons that the flight attendant position has become so popular over the past several decades is that it generally requires less education than virtually every other position within the commercial airline. While pilots must pursue college, flight school, and hundreds of hours of experience, flight attendants generally must possess only a high school diploma or GED when they apply for an option position with today’s commercial operators. It’s worth noting, of course, that many flight attendants do bring additional educational qualifications with them when they submit their resume. Many of today’s successful applicants have at least a few years of collegiate coursework under their belts, with many having pursued studies in hospitality or tourism management as an undergraduate major.
Even so, a college degree is rarely a requirement or prerequisite for the job. Training is definitely required, but airlines almost always run their own, in-house training programs for cabin attendants who are new to the field. This training will generally take place over the course of several days, weeks, or months, depending how the airline conducts its program. In line with regulations enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration, flight attendants will be required to take and pass a brief examination that assures they’ve learned the skills necessary atlanta to newyork flights for the job. Known as a Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency, this is an essential conclusion to the training process. Cabin attendants are on the front lines when it comes to passenger service, safety, and emergency response, so it makes sense that training is rather in-depth and tracked for certification.
Work Environment and Salary: A Guide for New Flight Attendants
After training with the airline, cabin crew will complete any and all necessary paperwork, and they’ll be assigned one or more flight paths with the airline. Many flight attendants are given a lighter load at first, typically during a one-year probationary period that assesses their capacity to get the job done, stay within company regulations, and perform al of the responsibilities assigned to them by the airline. Southwest Airlines, for example, assigns only about 80 trips to flight attendants during their first year with the company. After an incident-free probationary period, flight attendants are often promoted, assigned more trips, and compensated a bit more generously for their extra efforts.
The salary for today’s typical flight attendant, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, is about $37, 240 per year. This includes higher-end salaries within the profession, which can top $50, 000 on an annual basis for those stewardesses with extensive experience in the commercial aviation industry. New flight attendants, who have no prior experience in the field, can expect to earn around $25, 000 for their first year on the job. This will typically lead to a raise after the probationary period, when flight attendants will be working much more frequently and be trusted with far longer trips to international destinations.
Though the modest salaries are actually quite generous when compared to the schedule and number of working days required of flight attendants, the profession’s outlook in the United States is less than ideal. In fact, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that flight attendants as a whole may experience occupational contraction of up to 7 percent through the end of the present decade. That’s largely due to declining air travel in the United States, cost-cutting measures enforced by the country’s largest operators, and widespread consolidation of America’s biggest airlines. As a case in point, a recent job posting by Southwest Airlines advertised 750 available flight attendant positions and received more than 10, 000 applications in just over two hours. The word “competitive” may well be an understatement when describing the job prospects for new cabin crew.
The good news is that flight attendants are not confined merely to the American commercial aviation industry. Today’s international operators are growing by leaps and bounds, and that means flight attendants willing to move in order to further their career may actually improve their job prospects, increase their salary, and enjoy a far better overall benefits package than they would be offered if they accepted a similar position with a domestic airline company. More information about international jobs will follow later in this article.
A Day in the Life: What Flight Attendants Can Expect When Hired
A typical flight attendant’s day can begin at virtually any hour of the day or night, since flights depart from commercial airports on a 24-hour basis. As a general rule, flight attendants will need to arrive at the airport at least 1 or 2 hours prior to when passengers will begin boarding the aircraft scheduled for departure. This is because stewardesses, like pilots and other members of the crew, have plenty of pre-flight responsibilities in order to ensure that the flight is safe, meets regulations, and is ready to meet the demands of passengers as they embark on their journey.
Upon arriving at the airport, cabin crew will meet with the pilots who are handling the departing flight. Many times, they’ll also meet with other members of the crew. What proceeds is a briefing of the flight’s path, potential weather conditions and safety alerts, and information that is crucial to ensuring the continued safety and convenience of passengers. After this briefing has concluded, flight attendants will make their way to the aircraft roughly 30 minutes before passengers begin to board the plane.
During this pre-boarding period, attendants are responsible for doing a row-by-row, seat-by-seat safety check of the airplane. They’ll make sure that all magazines and safety bulletins, life vests, oxygen masks, and any other safety essentials are in place. They’ll make sure that seat belts are functioning, that the seats recline and adjust properly, and that the aircraft is perfectly ready for each passenger to take their seat and get ready for takeoff. Some flight attendants will also make their way to the attendants’ cabin, where things like in-flight drinks, snacks, meals, and movies will be checked and prepared in advance.
When the aircraft checked for safety and proper functioning of passenger amenities, cabin attendants will prepare for their moment in the spotlight. Passengers will gradually begin boarding the aircraft according to their ticket number and section, and attendants will be responsible for greeting each and every one of them as they set foot in the airplane. This initial impression is absolutely essential, since it’s one of the few times that the airline gets to make a deliberately friendly impression upon passengers. Stewardesses who promote a positive experience in the skies will ensure that the airline continues enjoying the business of return travelers. Those who don’t engage in excellent customer service can often find their trips cut and their salary stagnant.
As the flight takes off, attendants will engage in their customary review of airline safety procedures and give passengers the instructions they need to enjoy their flight. From instructing passengers to buckle up, to noting when electronic devices can be used and passing out in-flight snacks, cabin crew will be visible throughout the entire flight. After the aircraft descends and passengers depart, they’ll also be responsible for cleaning up any messes left in the airplane by travelers and ensuring that the next flight crew has an easy, enjoyable experience when preparing for their own departure.
There are Plenty of International Job Opportunities for Flight Attendants
Though the job market for flight attendants in the United Sates is actually expected to get a bit worse through 2020, that just is not the case for airlines that are headquartered throughout Asia and the Middle East. In those countries, a growing middle class has increased demand for domestic and international flights exponentially over the past several years. In fact, demand for flights is so strong that these airlines often find themselves suffering from a shortage of qualified pilots, mechanics, attendants, and others. This is where many of today’s most determined flight attendant applicants can expect to enjoy the best chances of landing an entry-level job.
International airlines offer thousands of open positions, and in order to attract American and other international cabin attendants, they often pair those positions with higher salaries and better benefits. The typical new-hire flight attendant can expect to be paid a premium when compared to their counterparts at American commercial airlines, and they can expect to receive better health, retirement, and vacation benefits as well. This helps international operators stay competitive, and it ensures that their personnel shortage will be relatively easy to solve as even more jobs open up. Flight attendants who don’t want to be one of 10, 000 applicants for 750 domestic jobs should seriously consider working overseas instead.
Great Opportunities Across the Board
Whether the job is American or international, flight attendants who land a position with a commercial operator will enjoy an excellent career that lets them see the world largely for free. Those with a fondness for great customer service and customer relations will enjoy long-term career satisfaction and be the envy of those confined merely to the same desk, in the same office, Monday through Friday.
Written by: Benjamin G Miller
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