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Schools for Flight Attendant Training

Flight attendants are responsible for making sure all passengers on board a flight are following airline safety regulations and are as comfortable as possible throughout the flight. Their careers can be very rewarding, and all candidates interested in pursuing this career path must complete flight attendant training at a school or aviation training facility, and then pass the Federal Aviation Administration's certification exam.

What to Expect at Flight Attendant School

These schools offer formal training programs for candidates interested in pursuing a flight attendant career. Training is often offered by the hiring airline, but individuals who obtain formal training from a school may have a better chance of success in the industry and position themselves to apply for several airlines and employers.

Flight attendant training programs help prepare students for employment with a commercial or private airline; these typically involve in-classroom instruction and hands-on training. Students may also be involved with simulation training programs and 'mock flights' where they can apply their skills and knowledge.

Flight attendant school training programs typically require the completion of the following courses and classes:

  • Airline Abbreviations and Definitions
  • Decompression and First Aid
  • Federal Aviation Regulations and Procedures
  • Security Issues
  • Aircraft Nomenclature Diagrams
  • Preflight Checking
  • Emergency Equipment Operation
  • 24-Hour Clock Time Calculations
  • Interviewing and Resume Skills
  • Conducting Safety Demonstrations

Some programs are condensed into 3-day or week long classes, while others span over several weeks and months.

How to Become a Flight Attendant

Most airlines will accept flight attendants who have completed a high school diploma, but many commercial airlines and employers prefer that their staff have at least a college degree. After the application has been approved by the airline, the prospective flight attendant will need to obtain training and acquire a number of working hours to gain experience with the particular airline.

All prospective flight attendants must agree to a background check, and will need to pass a series of vision and health tests to ensure that they are fit to fly. After formal training is completed, flight attendants are typically on 'reserve' status where they only work to fill in for other flight attendants and may need to pick up flights at the last minute. Reserve status typically lasts one year, and they can then bid on assignments and flights.

Once hired by an airline, they are required to purchase a set of uniforms to wear while on duty. An airline may pay for dry cleaning, maintenance and replacement of the uniforms, or offer the flight attendant an allowance each season.

Flight Attendant Training Requirements

Prospects must be at least 18-21 years of age and hold a high school diploma. Individuals who have experience working in customer service or the hospitality industry are usually strong candidates as the majority of the job requires working with the public and delivering superior customer service. Flight attendants may need to meet certain height and weight requirements, and pass a series of vision and health tests.

They are trained to perform a variety of tasks and assignments such as:

  • Greeting passengers as they board and exit the plane
  • Managing in-flight emergencies
  • Making sure the cabin meets all safety requirements and protocol
  • Managing on-board inventory such as magazines and headsets
  • Learning how to serve food and beverages during a flight
  • Instructing passengers how to handle an emergency situation

Career Paths After Flight Attendant School

Trainees must perform a number of drills and assignments to demonstrate their skills and build competence in the field. Trainees must be able to handle hijacking or terrorist situations, follow evacuation plans, understand company operations, policies and procedures; and be able to administer first aid in an emergency situation.

Individuals will need to obtain certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA's Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency tests flight attendants on safety regulations, emergency procedures, administering first aid and other important protocol. Airlines may only allow flight attendants to work with passengers after they have become FAA-certified.

Employment Prospects and Job Opportunities After Flight Attendant Training

Careers can be very rewarding, but the job market is becoming increasingly competitive as travel becomes more affordable and airlines lose older workers to retirement. Airlines are always looking for well-trained candidates who have flexible schedules and an attractive, well-groomed appearance. Almost all flight attendants hold union membership with the Association of Flight Attendants, the Transport Workers Union of America or the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook reports that the median annual earnings were $15,849 in 2006. Beginning pay ranges vary by airline and the experience of the individual, and some airlines offer incentives for flights that take place over holidays or overnight. The employee's family is typically entitled to complimentary airline tickets or reduced fares on the major airlines, and they may qualify for comprehensive health and dental benefits packages, paid holidays and even tuition reimbursement.

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