Life / Careers

You can do this: Flight attendant

"My schedule varies from day-to-day and every flight is an adventure."

American Airlines flight attendants arrive for work at O'Hare International Airport July 2, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.

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American Airlines flight attendants arrive for work at O'Hare International Airport July 2, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.

Lisa Blunt, 37, Purser with Porter Airlines

The basics

$36,109: Median starting salary for an entry-level flight attendant. Professionals with 10+ years of experience can earn upwards of $50,000.

+5%: Projected rate of job growth over the next 8 years.

Why I like my job

I definitely have the travel bug, so becoming a flight attendant was a great career decision. Before, I was working for a high-end cruise line as a dancer for their on-board entertainment shows, but started thinking about new opportunities that would keep me a bit closer to home while still avoiding the 9 to 5 schedule.

A friend of mine was working for Porter Airlines at the time and mentioned I’d make for a great fit with the company.

Although I didn’t have specific training, I knew I could transfer some of my learned skills from the cruise line – namely, my refined customer service approach and safety orientation.

Now, my schedule varies from day-to-day and every flight is an adventure. I thrive in this environment and look forward to meeting my daily challenges. I really enjoy being able to meet hundreds of new people each day while representing the company’s brand. I also love the camaraderie among our crews at Porter. Even if I’m flying with a co-worker for the first time, we seem to click right away – which usually takes a lot more time in other jobs.   

How to start

Individuals with a valid passport, high school diploma and a love for travel and customer service can land a career as a flight attendant or purser. To get started, prospects must fill out an application form through a small or major airline carrier’s website. Each carrier offers new-hire training programs in first aid, customer service, security regulations and emergency procedures. College programs specializing in hospitality or travel and tourism also serve as stepping-stones into the industry.

Where you can go

A career as a flight attendant is a chance to break free of the 9 to 5 shackles. With cheaper airfares, a growing population and a recent surge in airline passengers, the demand for trained workers is beginning to soar. One of the best perks? Workers can travel to and often stay in popular tourist destinations, depending on their schedules. And forget about the corporate grind: extended hours and travel times mean most professionals work an average of 12 to 15 days per month.  

Next career steps

Once in the system, trained flight attendants can advance to senior positions as instructors and in-flight supervisors. Experienced workers may be eligible to transition into other divisions of an airline or travel company, including recruitment, human resources or emergency response and security.

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