Stewardess Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a stewardess? Be certain to research training requirements, job duties and salary information to see if becoming a flight attendant is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Stewardess/Flight Attendant

Today, stewardesses are more commonly referred to as flight attendants. This career might be optimal for you if you wish to work in customer service while also traveling around the country or even the world. However, the profession will also require you to work erratic hours and potentially deal with emergency situations.

Pros of a Stewardess/Flight Attendant Career
Travel is part of the occupation (can spend 75-90 hours per month in the air)*
Higher-than-average pay (median salary of around $42,290 in 2014)*
Minimal training requirements (high school diploma, 1-2 years customer service training)*
Good career option for someone who likes working with people in the service industry*
Extensive free time*

Cons of a Stewardess/Flight Attendant Career
Required to work erratic shifts (12-14 hour days, weekends and holidays)*
Decline in job growth is expected from 2012-2022*
Intense competition for available openings, especially at the entry level*
Potential for injury from working in cramped quarters*
Potential for emergency safety situations to arise*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Information

Flight attendants are responsible for ensuring passenger safety and meeting customers' needs in flight. In this position, you will attend to safety concerns by informing all passengers of safety and security procedures before takeoff. You will also prepare passengers to use emergency equipment and reassure them in the case of an actual emergency. Other duties include providing food and beverage services, assisting special needs customers and dealing with unruly passengers.

While you may be required to work long days, you are also granted rest time when you are off duty. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median salary for this position was around $42,290 in 2014 for those who worked for major airlines. You can also find work for smaller, private airlines. Due mainly to rising fuel costs and slow growth in air travel, employment of flight attendants is predicted to decline 7% from 2012-2022 decade, so openings will come primarily from replacing retirees.

Education and Training Requirements

In most cases, the only education that you need in order to become a stewardess or flight attendant is a high school diploma. More and more employers, however, are interested in hiring candidates with some postsecondary education in fields such as hospitality or tourism. Previous work experience in the customer service industry may also be preferred and can help you gain employment.

You will likely also need to complete a flight attendant training program that is put on by your employer. This training can last 3-6 weeks and can require travel to a training location. You will also need to have a valid passport, pass a background check and complete practice flights. These practice flights help show that you are able to execute the safety procedures.

What Employers Are Looking for

Most airlines looking to hire flight attendants seek candidates who have a positive demeanor and an aptitude for customer service. Having a high school diploma and passport are two other common requirements. You will also need to be in good shape and be able to meet all of the physical requirements. You need to demonstrate a strong ability to work well under pressure, handle potentially dangerous situations and interact with customers in a well-mannered and pleasant way. Job postings from April 2012 reflect the following needs:

  • A Nevada engineering organization is seeking flight attendants to work on a company-owned aircraft. Candidates should have at least two years of customer service experience and at least one year of experience as a flight attendant. Applicants should have strong communication skills and be able to push and pull an aircraft door weighing 60 pounds.
  • In California, a major airline is looking for flight attendants who are able to speak both English and Japanese. This position mentions that at least two years of customer service experience or college is required. The candidate must also have a valid passport.
  • An airline based in Missouri sought candidates with customer service skills and professional, conservative appearance, who are able to work any day and any shift, including multi-day overnights. Candidates must pass a background check, drug screening, and a training program at the airline's St. Louis facility. The paid training covers safety announcements, emergency procedures, aircraft layout, and in-flight services.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

In order to make your skills stand out to potential employers, Prior customer service experience paired with some college or a completed degree can also help you gain employment in the flight attendant job market. Learning a foreign language or taking courses in hospitality can also boost your attractiveness to employers.

Other Careers to Consider

Server

If you do not feel that the long hours, erratic schedule and constant travel are right for you, there are other careers similar to a flight attendant to consider. One career that allows for you to work in the service industry, but closer to home, is that of a server. This career has the same educational requirements of a flight attendant, as only a high school diploma or some high school education is generally needed, but the median pay is significantly lower that that of a flight attendant at around $18,000 compared to $38,000.

Hotel Desk Clerk

Another potential career that you can consider is that of a hotel desk clerk. This position allows for you to work in travel and tourism, but does not require that you be away from home. The hours and long shifts are similar to that of a flight attendant due to the fact that hotels never close. The average salary for this position is around $20,000, according to the BLS, with a projected job growth of 11% over the 2010-2020 decade.

Transportation Attendant

If you want to work in the airline industry staying close to home, you can work as a transportation attendant. In this role, you will be responsible for assisting passengers before they get on the aircraft. Like flight attendants, you will need strong customer service skills. You will be required to assist passengers and also learn the safety procedures for the aircraft. The average salary for this position as reported by O*Net OnLine is around $22,000.

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