Airline Stewardess Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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Airline stewards and stewardesses earn an average yearly salary of about $46,000. Are the training requirements worth it for this job? See real job descriptions and get the truth about the expected career outlook to find out if becoming an airline attendant is right for you.
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Pros and Cons to Being an Airline Stewardess

An airline stewardess or steward, also more commonly known as a flight attendant, is responsible for taking care of plane passengers en route to their destinations. Take a look at some of the pros and cons associated with the job.

PROS to Being an Airline Stewardess
Some positions only require a high school diploma and on-the-job training*
Reimbursement options for meals and hotels while away from the home base*
Discounts on airfares*
Opportunity to travel around the globe*

CONS to Being an Airline Stewardess
It's common to work holidays, nights and weekends*
You must sleep away from home often (typically 2-3 nights every week)*
Work can be strenuous due to the amount of time you spend on your feet and in the air*
Keen job competition due to the number of applicants interested in traveling*
Workers must sometimes attempt to calm frightened or hostile passengers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Occupational Information

Job Description

Airline stewardesses and stewards are first briefed by the captain on flight details, such as the length of the flight, expected weather conditions and emergency evacuation methods. Before takeoff, you must cover all the emergency and safety information that passengers need to know. This usually includes identifying the emergency exits and demonstrating how safety equipment works.

As an airline steward or stewardess, you must ensure that all passengers are secure in their seats and have their seatbelts on before takeoff. Once in flight, you can help passengers by serving food and drinks, as well as making them more comfortable by providing additional pillows, blankets and reading material. Once on the ground, airline stewards and stewardesses ensure that all passengers disembark the plane in an orderly manner.

Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that flight attendants earned an average annual income of almost $46,000 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). Flight attendants who were in the top ten percent of wage estimates generated a salary of $72,000 or more each year. Florida, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina and Wisconsin were the top-paying states for flight attendants.

What Are the Career Requirements?

Education

Although some employers accept airline stewardesses with only a high school diploma, there is an increasing demand for applicants with a college education. Some postsecondary schools and community colleges offer flight attendant or airline travel certificate programs that can be completed in one semester. These programs can teach you about important airline terminologies, airplane safety, customer service and cultural awareness. You can learn in the classroom and participate in internship experiences at nearby airports. If you're interested in earning a bachelor's degree, majors that might be beneficial to airline attendant jobs include traveling and tourism, hospitality, psychology and communications.

Training

After being hired, an airline steward or stewardess has to complete a formal job training program. The BLS reported that this program typically lasts 3-6 weeks. After being sent to a training center, you'll learn how to operate emergency equipment, administer first aid and survive in the water as part of the airline emergency protocols. You'll also study the regulations and policies of your airline.

Certification

An airline steward or stewardess must receive a Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before working officially with an airline (www.faa.gov). You can receive this certification after completing your training requirements and applying with the FAA's certification branch.

What Do Employers Look for?

When filling flight attendant positions, employers run background checks and drug tests, so you must have a clean record. You'll also have to be a United States citizen or legally able to work in the country. Employers seek airline stewardesses who are healthy, so medical evaluations are usually performed prior to employment. Take a look below at some other requirements that employers set for airline stewards and stewardesses as of March 2012.

  • An airline in San Francisco wants a flight attendant who has two years of postsecondary or customer service experience and speaks both English and Japanese.
  • An airline seeks a flight attendant for their North Carolina base who is at least 19 years old and has no visible body art.
  • In Minnesota, an airline needs an airline attendant who is no taller than six feet and can lift up to 60 pounds. Applicants must also be at least 21 years of age and have two years of prior customer service experience.

Standing Out as an Airline Steward or Stewardess

Maintaining a calm and collected demeanor can help set you apart from other airline attendants. Many passengers can get unruly or rude during flights, so possessing the ability to remain friendly and agreeable with them without losing your temper is a big plus in this field. In the rare case of an airline emergency, many passengers might panic, and not all flight attendants can handle the pressure. The BLS also reported that the ability to speak and understand foreign languages can strengthen your chances of employment, depending on the flight destinations of the airline.

If you're willing to work extra shifts or take undesirable hours, you can set yourself apart from your competition. Working holidays, nights and weekends on a regular basis can show an additional level of professionalism and commitment to your employer. You can also help stand out in such a competitive field by holding your 4-year degree, reported the BLS.

Other Occupational Paths

Ticket Agent

If you're interested in working for an airline, but you don't want to travel daily on an airplane, you might want to look into becoming a reservation and transportation ticket agent. These travel clerks help customers reserve travel arrangements through ticket sales. When a customer arrives at the airport, you'll help check their baggage and direct them to their departure area. As of May 2011, the BLS reported that reservation and transportation ticket agents took in an average annual income of almost $34,000.

Emergency Medical Technician

If you want to help keep people safe on the ground rather than in the air, you might want to consider being an emergency medical technician (EMT). As an EMT, you'll respond to accidents that require medical attention like heart attacks, gunshots and automobile accidents. An EMT can provide immediate medical care at the scene and then transport the victim to the nearest medical establishment. To gain a position, the BLS reported that you must complete a training program and receive licensure, but you don't usually need a postsecondary degree. According to the BLS, EMTs made an average salary of around $34,000 as of May 2011.

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