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What Qualifications Are Needed as a Flight Attendant?

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Flight attendants work to maintain passenger safety. While flight attendants spend a majority of the time providing drinks, snacks and other comfort items to passengers, the primary purpose of a flight attendant is to make certain that passengers follow safety regulations. Due to the recent increase in air transportation security, airlines have hiring policies for flight attendants that are stricter than those in the past.

Work Experience

Airlines prefer to hire applicants for flight attendant positions who possess experience working with the public. For example, an applicant with experience working as a waiter or waitress, in retail sales, customer service or other service related positions may receive more consideration than those applicants without similar experience. Airlines prefer those experienced working with the public because flight attendants must ensure that passengers follow the rules without upsetting paying customers. Airlines are particular about employees who are punctual and reliable.


While a high school diploma or GED is the basic educational requirement for working as a flight attendant, airlines prefer to hire applicants for flight attendant positions with a higher level of education. Some colleges, as well as technical and vocational schools, offer training programs specifically for flight attendants. These programs teach students skills such as how to respond to emergencies, first aid and conflict management. In addition to these specific training programs, airlines also seek college graduates with degrees in a variety of fields including nursing, travel and hospitality, psychology and communications.


Flight attendants must receive certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. To qualify for certification, a flight attendant must complete a variety of training courses and demonstrate competency in performing the required duties of a flight attendant. Flight attendants must also complete periodic training courses and pass a safety examination from the FAA to maintain certification. The FAA offers separate certifications for different types of aircraft. To enjoy better job prospects, a flight attendant should receive certification on multiple types of aircraft.

Other Qualifications

Flight attendants must be United States citizens or registered to work in the United States. Flight attendant applicants must pass an extensive FAA background check as well as a medical exam. Flight attendants must have corrected vision that is at least 20/30 and must be tall enough to reach the overhead storage compartments where many airlines store emergency items. Airlines prefer flight attendants who speak more than one language for assignments on international routes.