The average salary for a flight attendant in 2018 was $56,000. This can depend on several factors including experience, location, and the airline you work for.
To many people, being a flight attendant looks like a great job. You get to meet and interact with new people, travel to new places, and are well respected in your field. If you’ve ever considered a career as a flight attendant, you’ve probably wondered how much the job pays.
Here is a breakdown of how much a flight attendant makes as well as some other much needed information that goes into that salary number.
Salary vs Hourly
Most flight attendants in the U.S. are not paid a traditional salary. Instead, they are usually paid an hourly rate. This rate is paid from the time the cabin door of the airplane closes until it opens. The term for this is “block time” and it’s standard in the industry.
The reason this is important is there is work that is done (and time spent at work) outside of the time the cabin door is closed. This includes getting the plane ready for the flight, seating passengers, and more.
Keep in mind that although this is a common form of payment, there are more variations based on airline. Some airlines pay per flight based on distance (miles flown) and there are even some airlines outside of the United States that pay a salary.
Additional Pay (Per Diem)
Since flight attendants often have to travel to other cities and countries for work, they are also paid an additional amount of money to cover their food and other expenses while traveling. This is called a per-diem. This also depends on the airline but is typically $1.50 to $2 per hour for domestic flights. For international flights, it can be even more.
This amount of money is typically more than enough to cover the added expense of being away from home. Also, since this per diem is meant to cover expenses while working, it is not taxed.
Benefits and Perks
There are many benefits and added perks to being a flight attendant compared to most other jobs.
This includes fun things like getting to travel and see the world and have short vacations in these places while your employer pays for your hotel.
One of the best perks of being a flight attendant is the free and discounted airfare for yourself and your family. Although the specifics of free airfare and discounts is different with each airline, almost all have some great programs for employees to take advantage of.
You also get to meet interesting people, enjoy a flexible work schedule and enjoy a job where most people look up to you.
Education and Training
The educational requirement to be a flight attendant is typically only a high school diploma or equivalent. Some airlines do prefer additional education and it can give you an advantage while applying for jobs.
Most of the training to be a flight attendant is done by your employer in the form of on the job training. This usually includes a 3 to 6 week long training course. After completing this, you’ll also have to get a certification from the FAA. This not only includes completing training, but meeting other requirements like a security check and vision test.
Being a flight attendant also requires certain soft skills. Since you’ll be dealing with the public most of the day you’ll want to have some customer service experience. Most airlines prefer you have at least some background of working with the public and providing customer service since you’ll be interacting with their customers.
Beginner Flight Attendant Pay
Experience is the biggest factor in how much you are paid as a flight attendant.
When first starting out, you can expect to earn in the range of $24-$29 per hour of flight time. Depending on the airline you work for, this will start to increase after your first 6 months, or after your first year.
As you start to build up more experience you’ll not only make more per hour of flight time, you’ll also have a better selection of flights/destination and can earn more with longer flights.
As you continue to get more experience, you can expect to be earning in the range of $35-40 per hour of flight time by the time you are 5 years into your career.
Experienced Flight Attendant Pay
As your experience level continues to increase, you can expect to become of the higher earning flight attendants in the industry. For many airlines, this means that you can earn as much as $60 per hour of flight time. That’s more than double what you make in your first year.
According to recent surveys in the industry, the top 10% of flight attendants can expect to make in the range of $90,000 per year. This assumes 13 years of experience. Not only is that more than most jobs with a similar time in the field, that doesn’t even take into account the other benefits and additional pay mentioned earlier.
The job outlook for flight attendants is very strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 10% increase in demand for this profession over the next decade. If you enjoy working with people and like to travel, this might not only be a a great fit for you, but the increased demand will likely lead to even higher wages.
How to get hired
If you want to become a flight attendant, the first step is getting hired. Since much of the training comes after you’re hired instead of before, you won’t have to spend time and money preparing for the job before you’re hired.
To get started, you should visit the websites of airlines, search job sites online, and see if anyone you know who happens to be a flight attendant can make an introduction for you.
When applying for a job as a flight attendant, keep in mind what most airlines are looking for as well as what the requirements of the job are. This includes
- having great interpersonal skills to work with customers,
- being able to pass a security background check
- being at least 18 years old (or older for some airlines)
- be able to meet the physical requirement of the job (standing, lifting, etc)
If you meet these requirements and are interested in the job, you should start applying and see where it goes.
A career as a flight attendant can be a great one. It pays well, gives you some great on the job benefits, and allows you to meet people and travel the world – all while getting paid. If you like meeting and working with new people, traveling, and are willing to work hard, you should consider being a flight attendant.