Since the introduction of passenger air service, flight attendants have been an important part of the aircraft crew. Whether calming passengers or evacuating them in emergency situations, flight attendants must perform their duties calmly and professionally. Airlines require a high school diploma or GED before students can apply for FAA-certified training; some airlines give an edge to applicants with college-level study in customer-service fields. Some high school courses could give students without college experience an advantage.
Flight attendants spend a lot of time on their feet, moving around the airplane serving passengers or bending and stooping while working in fairly cramped conditions. Most airlines prefer attendants to have a good height-to-weight proportion as well as a neat appearance. A class priority should involve some sort of physical conditioning, such as playing on a sports team or taking a general fitness class. Starting good fitness habits in high school will carry over to adulthood and help achieve this goal of fitness early on.
First Aid Training
Flight attendants need to know CPR and basic first aid in case of emergencies. High school health classes may provide some basic knowledge of this training although more formal training will occur during the FAA-certified training provided by the airline. Some high schools offer students the ability to be sports trainers for athletes. These student trainers also must learn and practice basic first aid training.
To work overseas routes, a flight attendant must speak another language. For example, speaking Spanish fluently provides the ability to work routes in South America, Latin America or Spain. High school requirements usually include a year or two of another language, but studying a language all four years helps develop the fluency needed to talk to foreign passengers in their native tongue.
Get involved in activities and organizations that foster teamwork. Learning about how to work with others in a high stress environment is good preparation for what you may encounter as a flight attendant. Athletics, debate club, music or other team related groups encourages the development of communication skills and problem solving skills.
Probably the most important skills flight attendants need are communication skills, the ability to talk to people all day long and, more importantly, listen to passenger’s needs and concerns. Any sort of speech class would provide a student the basic communication skills the job requires. An advanced class, such as debate, would allow students to practice become skilled communicators.
Retired after 33 years in education, Diana Pierce has worked as a language arts teacher as well as a teacher librarian. For more than 10 years, she has written book reviews for “School Library Journal.” Pierce received her Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Texas at Austin.