Minimum Qualifications to Become a Flight Attendant


Am I Qualified?

One of the first steps in evaluating a flight attendant career is determining whether you qualify for the position. Every airline has a set of minimum hiring requirements.

Education

Virtually every airline requires that you have a high school degree or Government Equivalency Degree (G.E.D.) If you did not finish high school or have not passed the G.E.D., do not bother to apply for a job as a flight attendant. You absolutely won't get hired without a high school degree (or equivalent).

When you review each airline’s minimum hiring qualifications, you should realize that these are merely minimums. More is always better, especially when it comes to education. Just because you have a high school degree, do not expect to walk into an airline employment office, show your diploma and get hired.

Many airlines look favorably upon applicants who have tried to better themselves by pursuing higher education. A recent study shows that over one-half of all flight attendants hired have at least one year of college under their belt, and over one-third have an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. A few even have Master’s degrees or Doctorate’s; these types of advanced degrees are certainly not required for the job, but will be helpful if you plan on pursuing a management or supervisory position someday.

Additionally, if you are lacking customer service experience, many airlines will overlook this "weakness" if you have a college education behind you. Hiring departments believe that college experience makes applicants more mature and better able to handle the many challenges and responsibilities that come with being a flight attendant.

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Customer Service Experience

Customer service experience is typically not a firm requirement; meaning, you can usually apply without it. However, a lack of customer service experience makes getting hired that much more difficult. Customer service experience will give you a clear competitive advantage in your quest to become a flight attendant.

Remember that you will be working in front of the public on a regular basis. From greeting, serving and assisting passengers to making announcements, you will always be representing the company in a customer service role. Because it is very important to project a positive image, airlines are very careful about selecting candidates who have experience working with the public.

Most people do not even realize that they have a customer service background. If you have ever worked in an environment in which you had to deal with the public on a regular basis, you have customer service experience. This can include working in a retail clothing store, waiting tables in a restaurant, answering telephones in a corporate environment, etc.

However, if you do not have any customer service experience, you should not despair. You may have a more difficult time than others who do, but it won't preclude you from landing the job, especially if you excel in other qualification areas. For example, the airlines will usually substitute a college education (even without a degree) for a lack of customer service experience.


Language Skills

Fluency in a second language, such as French, Spanish, German, Japanese, or Chinese is a major plus in the eyes of flight attendant hiring departments; however, most airlines are only concerned with your ability to speak English. Fluency in English is a must. If you cannot speak English effectively, you won't get hired by a U.S. airline.

Very few airlines require you to be able to speak a second language. Airlines that have a second language preference do so because of certain international destinations. On these routes, a designated Language of Destination/Origin (also called LOD/O - pronounced "low-doe") flight attendant is assigned to the flight. Such positions are usually awarded to senior flight attendants, making these jobs difficult to obtain even for qualified applicants. Pay is also higher for LOD/O qualified flight attendants - approximately $1.50 to $2.00 higher per hour.

Citizenship

Every major U.S. airline requires you to be a U.S. Citizen or registered alien with legal right to accept employment in the U.S., plus the right to travel to and from the countries the airline serves.

You are also required to have a social security card and, in many instances, a passport. If you do not have a passport, it might be a good idea to get one now. They take just a few weeks to obtain.

Relocation

Every major airline requires that you be willing to relocate to any of the listed flight attendant domiciles.

Appearance

The airlines are very particular about hiring individuals who have a neat and attractive appearance. After all, flight attendants are the only employees to have direct, continuous contact with the traveling public. No matter what the marketing department propagates over the airwaves or in print, flight attendants must look neat and professional in order for the airline to develop an appealing brand identity.

Typically, airlines do not permit visible tattoos, body piercings (save for your ears), long hair on men, "rebellious" hairstyles, bizarre or offensive-looking makeup or jewelry, poorly manicured hands, etc. All airlines are different. For example, some do not even permit facial hair on men! During training, you will be given specific grooming regulations which must be strictly adhered to.

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Company Physical and Background Check

If you have thoroughly read through the minimum hiring requirements (above), you may be thinking it would be easy enough to "cheat" a little bit during the application process - maybe say you are a year older or an inch taller than you actually are, or fail to mention that DWI conviction you had three years ago. You do not want to do this, trust us! Airlines have a couple of ways to determine whether applicant have lied on their application about their age, height, past use of drugs, work history, or any other area that would preclude them from landing the job.

Every airline administers a company physical examination to every new-hire. During this exam, an airline is able to detect whether you lied on your application about your height, whether you have a drug or alcohol problem, or whether your past medical history shows anything adverse that would disqualify you from getting the job. Since you are given a urinalysis during this physical, it is very important that you inform the examiners of any medications you might be taking.

In addition to the medical exam, there is also a thorough background check. During the background check, which can go back as many as 10 years, virtually everything about you is investigated - your age, place of birth, school records, criminal records (if any), etc. If an airline finds that you lied on your application or you have any sort of criminal record, you will be immediately dismissed

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