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Flight Attendant Careers

What is a Flight Attendant?
There is much more to  being a flight attendant than just serving beverages on a plane.  Flight Attendants are trained in a wide variety of skills including: Airport and aircraft security; self defense; emergency first aid and recognition of medical problems; passenger handling procedures during emergencies; emergency egress on land and water; aircraft technical knowledge, including how to fly an airplane;  airline operations; reservation and ticketing procedures; wilderness, desert and sea survival training; physical fitness; meteorology; customer service; foreign languages; special material handling; radio communication, navigation, and of course, hospitality training.  Flight attendants also lead an exciting life of travel, both as part of their day-to-day work, and travel as a free benefit for their personal use.  A flight attendant's lifestyle is demanding in terms of work schedules, especially during odd hours such as early mornings, holidays and weekends.  This is an ideal career for a single person, or a married person who does not yet have family and child-rearing responsibilities.

Need for Flight Attendants
Despite the recent news media attention that focuses on airlines in financial trouble, there are many more airlines that are prosperous and growing.  The demand for flight attendants is very high, for two reasons:  The number of passengers is growing rapidly, and there is a high rate of turnover in flight attendant numbers.  The number of passengers now flying is much higher than pre-911.  Some  passengers have shifted to smaller national airlines, and regional carriers.  Although their business is very strong, it is not exciting news, and you don't hear about it in the media.  As a result of this increased traffic, the need for flight attendants is growing steadily.  Another reason for the high demand is that some leave the career field after only a short time.  In some cases, the person discovers that the flight schedules are too demanding in terms of odd hours and frequent layovers.  In many other cases, young flight attendants who are still single quickly find an attractive partner, and decide to stay home to begin a marriage.  Many of these flight attendants return to the profession later in life.

Becoming a Flight Attendant
It is possible to be accepted into the flight attendant training programs of some airlines directly after graduating from high school.  The competition is very intense, and a low percentage survive beyond the initial screening process.  A candidate who spends some time preparing for flight attendant school stands a much better chance of being accepted.  An Associate Degree, Bachelor Degree, or higher, especially if the degree is focused specifically on flight attendant training, can substantially increase the chances of being chosen.  However, there are no guarantees.  In order to succeed a candidate must be: reasonably intelligent, able to speak confidently and well, and be physically fit.  The two most common reasons for candidates not being accepted, or dropped during an airline training program, are because of underdeveloped speaking skills, and poor physical fitness.  Once accepted into an airline flight attendant training program, a candidate will graduate in one to three months, depending upon the airline's training practices.

Career Opportunities
The number of different types of flight attendant careers is vast.  They range from small regional airlines flying commuter planes with only one attendant to very large intercontinental airlines flying jumbo jets having 20 or more attendants.  Generally speaking, the small commuter airlines having only one or two attendants on their flights may have higher starting salaries, but the opportunity for advancement is lower.  Regional airlines using 2 to 4 attendants per plane start at lower salaries, but have higher ending pay rates.  The very large international airlines pay the top salaries for their most experienced  flight attendants, particularly those who speak foreign languages.  There is also a growing demand for high quality flight attendants for corporate and private aircraft.  These pay the highest salaries, because the need for good hospitality skills is very important.  The demand for flight attendants is now very high.  And even though there will always be peaks and valleys in the demand rates, the need for flight attendants over the long term will not disappear.  People will continue to fly in ever growing numbers, and flight attends are needed to host them.

Choosing a Program
When choosing a flight attendant education program, a candidate should choose a school that has a solid reputation in the aviation industry.  A school that also has a high quality flight program, and other aviation programs such as maintenance, aviation business, etc., are better known by the aviation industry, and their graduates are assumed to be better qualified than those from a school that has no other aviation programs.  A candidate should also choose a school that opens an educational pathway to higher levels of training such as access to bachelor and masters programs.  A two year associates degree is a good starting point.  A two-year school that partners with higher level colleges and universities can be very helpful.  Often, an associates degree is all that is necessary to gain a candidate's entrance into an airline flight attendant training program.

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