How to Become a Flight Attendant

Brandi Glass
8 min read
Photo of Flight Attendants Doing a Salute

The flight attendant benefits are compelling. You’ll enjoy traveling around the country — or even, the world! — while earning a competitive salary and building a career in customer service.

So if you’re contemplating becoming a flight attendant, keep reading. We’ll share everything you need to know about how to become a flight attendant, from achieving your FAA Certificate to the typical cabin crew salary, training, and building a winning flight attendant resume.

What is a Flight Attendant?

A flight attendant or cabin crew member is an in-person staff member on flights. They are responsible for ensuring the safety, comfort, and well-being of passengers.

What Does a Flight Attendant Do?

A flight attendant’s responsibilities include assisting with boarding, providing in-flight services, demonstrating safety procedures, responding to emergencies, and ensuring adherence to airline and aviation regulations.

They check boarding passes, direct passengers to their seats, educate passengers on safety protocols, resolve customers’ in-flight concerns and queries, serve food and drink, sell products such as perfume and jewelry, collect trash, convert first class passengers’ seats into beds, and more. Depending on the route, they may be expected to do these tasks in multiple languages.

Additionally, flight attendants could be required to provide basic first aid during emergencies, make judgment calls about customers’ health and suitability to travel, and de-escalate conflicts between passengers.

In fulfilling these duties, flight attendants play a key role in delivering excellent customer service, addressing passengers' needs, and representing the airline's brand.

How to Become a Flight Attendant

Before you can take to the skies, there are a few steps you'll need to follow. Let’s break down how to become a flight attendant.

First, make sure you meet the airline's requirements. Flight attendant age requirements are commonplace, with most airlines requiring you to be at least 18 years old. Some airlines, however, have stricter flight attendant age requirements so check before you apply.

Airlines will also ask for a high school certificate, GED, or equivalent, along with a valid passport. And of course, you’ll also have to show proof of your eligibility to work in the US.

Keep in mind that most airlines have additional physical requirements, like the ability to lift luggage into overhead compartments or fit in a standard-size jumpseat harness. You might also have to pass a background and/or drugs test.

Fluency in English is a must. And while not required, having foreign languages, first aid certification, or a college-level degree on your flight attendant resume may give you a competitive edge.

Assuming you meet the airline’s requirements, the process of becoming a flight attendant is pretty simple. You won’t have to pay to attend schools for flight attendants, for example. You can just go straight ahead and apply for a cabin crew role with your preferred airline.

Once you've received a job offer, you'll be invited to participate in the airline's training program. This will provide you with all the skills and knowledge necessary for your new career — and, perhaps most importantly of all, to achieve the essential qualification of flight attendant, the FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency.

Without this qualification of flight attendant, you cannot legally work as cabin crew staff in the US. You’ll also need to regularly reapply for your certificate.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Flight Attendant?

With a bit of luck, you can become a flight attendant in weeks. The biggest delay is often the recruitment process, as some airlines require multiple tests and interviews.

How Long is Flight Attendant Training?

Flight attendant training can be as quick as a couple of weeks or as long as six months. Fortunately, you only have to attend training once you’ve already received a job offer. You won’t have to pay for expensive schools for flight attendants.

That said, you should pay close attention to the training length and pay rates when choosing which airline to apply for. It can make a significant difference to your overall earnings in your first few months on the job.

A Day in the Life of a Flight Attendant

A Flight Attendant Smiling at Passengers in an Airplane

A day in the life of a flight attendant can be unpredictable, as you jet off to diverse locations with different shift times and patterns. But once you’re on board, you’ll find the core duties of a flight attendant remain the same.

Flight attendants start their shifts by conducting pre-flight checks and ensuring emergency equipment is in place and functional. They welcome passengers aboard, assist with stowing luggage, and provide safety demonstrations. During the flight, they serve meals and beverages, address passenger concerns, and offer assistance as needed.

When they finally land, a flight attendant’s immediate focus is helping customers safely disembark and preparing the plane for its next set of passengers. Only after that’s been completed can they go to their accommodation and unpack for the night.

Flight Attendant Salary: How Much Does a Flight Attendant Make?

If you’re wondering, “How much does a flight attendant make,” you’ll be pleased to know that — at $63,760 a year — the median flight attendant salary is above average for the US. That’s according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Of course, there are multiple factors that can affect flight attendant pay. The typical flight attendant starting salary is significantly lower, with self-reported data suggesting that the flight attendant starting salary at American Airlines is just $30,000 a year.

Your flight attendant schedule will also affect your flight attendant salary. This is because flight attendant pay rates are based on four distinct factors:

  • Your guaranteed base rate
  • Your flying hours
  • Per-diem layover allowances
  • Sales commissions

Being scheduled for longer flights means more per-diem expenses, for example. Alternatively, a flight attendant schedule with a greater number of short flights could add up to more sales — and in turn, more commission.

So, how much does a flight attendant make including commissions, allowances, and bonuses? That’s a surprisingly tricky question to answer. But the good news for candidates is that most airlines are transparent about the flight attendant benefits they offer.

Flight Attendant Salary Ranges

The majority of US flight attendants earn between $37,690 and $97,170, according to US government data.

How Much Does a Flight Attendant Make an Hour?

The average flight attendant salary breaks down to $30.65 an hour.

Is Becoming a Flight Attendant a Good Fit for Me?

Flight Attendants Wearing Face Mask while Standing on the Aisle of an Airplane

You’ll need far more than your flight attendant qualifications — i.e. the FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency — to successfully fulfill the duties of a flight attendant.

That said, if you excel in customer service and can handle stressful situations with a smile, you could find that working as a cabin crew member is a rewarding career that takes you all over the world.

Where Can a Flight Attendant Work?

A flight attendant can work for commercial airlines, private jet operators, or charter flight companies, serving passengers on domestic and international flights. They may also find opportunities within government or military aviation.

How to Apply for Flight Attendant Jobs

Applying for roles is the first step in your journey to becoming a flight attendant. Let’s break down the process.

A well-written flight attendant resume is essential if you want to see job-hunting success. It should showcase how you possess the flight attendant qualifications and skills detailed in the flight attendant job description. Our flight attendant resume templates will help you get started.

Alongside your resume, prepare for potential flight attendant interview questions. Research common flight attendant interview questions and practice your answers, focusing on providing real-life examples that demonstrate your ability to excel in the role.

By combining a strong resume with thorough interview preparation, you'll increase your chances of securing your dream flight attendant position.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

These questions come up again and again among readers wondering how to become a flight attendant.

How to Become a Flight Attendant With No Experience

You don’t need experience, a degree, or state licensing to become a flight attendant. However, you will need to pass your airline’s training and achieve an FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency.

What are the Requirements for a Flight Attendant?

Flight attendants need an FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency, in addition to being eligible to work in the US and meeting the requirements of the airline’s flight attendant job description. Foreign language skills can be beneficial but are typically not required in the US.

How to Become a Flight Attendant for Delta

Delta only considers flight attendant applicants who are aged 21+, fully vaccinated, and have a high school degree or GED, the right to work in the US, a valid passport, and spoken English fluency. Foreign language skills are also beneficial. You’ll have to do a talent assessment, virtual job tryout, on-demand interview, and in-person event day before receiving a job offer.

How to Become a Flight Attendant: California

The path to becoming a flight attendant in California is relatively simple: achieve your high school diploma or GED, gain your proof of eligibility to work in the US and a valid passport, and apply directly via airlines’ websites. Once accepted, you’ll undergo the airline’s training and apply for your FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency.

How to Become a Flight Attendant: Texas

If you want to become a flight attendant in Texas, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED, a valid passport, and proof of eligibility to work in the US. Plus, you’ll have to pass the airline’s training program and achieve your FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency.

How to Become a Flight Attendant: Florida

Aspiring flight attendants in Florida will need a high school diploma or GED in addition to a valid passport and proof of eligibility to work in the US. Your employer will train you and support you in achieving your FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency.

How to Become a Flight Attendant: New York

New York-based flight attendants will apply for their FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency after sitting their company’s training program. This will qualify them to work as a flight attendant all over the US.

How to Become a Flight Attendant: Southwest

If you want to work as a flight attendant with Southwest, you’ll need to be aged 20+, have proof of eligibility to work in the US and a valid passport, and have a “well-groomed” appearance. College-level education is an asset, while a high school diploma or GED is required.

How to Become a International Flight Attendant

If you’ve set your sights on becoming an international flight attendant, you’ll need to play the long game. After receiving a flight attendant job offer and passing your training, you’ll have to build seniority to be considered for more attractive routes. Speaking the destination language could give you a headstart, however.

How to Become a Private Jet Flight Attendant

Becoming a flight attendant in private jets requires first-class customer service skills. You’ll find it easier to achieve job offers from private charter companies if you have a proven track record as a flight attendant.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Flight Attendant?

You don’t have to pay to become a flight attendant, but you should bear in mind that you may not be paid much during your training period. You should budget for several months with a reduced income.

How to Become a Corporate Flight Attendant

To become a corporate flight attendant working non-commercial flights, you’ll have to meet the rigorous requirements of charter airlines. They’ll expect exceptional customer service skills and discretion, as well as standard cabin crew skills such as knowledge of airplane safety protocols.

How Difficult is It to Become a Flight Attendant?

While you don’t need a degree or specialist training to apply for flight attendant roles, it is a competitive industry. The job application process can be long and rigorous. You’ll need to stand out from other applicants to land your first flight attendant role.

Create your flight attendant resume today with Rocket Resume!