Who hasn’t thought about becoming a flight attendant, at least once? You get to fly around the world, the outfits are sleek, and your PA announcements could make you a viral sensation.
Delta Air Lines (DAL) might give you that chance. On Monday, the Atlanta-based airline announced that they will hire 1,000 flight attendants for 2018. Applicants must be 21-years-old, service-oriented and obviously, not afraid of flying.
While Delta is looking for new flight attendants, landing the job won’t be easy. In 2016, 150,000 people applied for the job, and only 6,000 received in-person interviews. From that, Delta hired just 1,200 new flight attendants, less than 1% of the applicant pool.
Delta currently employs about 20,000 flight attendants, American Airlines has about 25,000, and United Airlines employs nearly 24,000.
Though getting hired could be an uphill battle, it’s clear that the airline industry needs quality flight attendants. In 2016, Boeing predicted that the world’s airlines will need to hire 814,000 flight attendants by 2020. This is due to a potential wave of retirements and increased use of single aisle jets, like the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320, both of which are frequently used and require rotating crews of at least four flight attendants.
So, the demand is there. The only question is: Are you qualified?
So, what does it take to get hired at Delta?
At minimum, the ideal candidate must have a high school degree (or GED), be able to work in the U.S., and speak/read/write English fluently. Other minimum requirements include:
- Ability to work a flexible schedule
- Willingness to comply with uniform and appearance guidelines, including no visible tattoos or piercings like earlobe plugs.
- Ability to obtain and keep current a passport and travel documents to freely enter and exit places where Delta flies
- Successfully complete a pre-employment U.S. Department of Transportation drug test and comprehensive background check, including government-required fingerprint-based criminal history records check
- Ability to work in a physically demanding role which requires frequent standing, walking, bending, stooping, pushing, pulling, reaching and lifting (i.e., pushing/pulling beverage or food carts and lifting and opening emergency aircraft doors)
Sounds straightforward, but applying is just the tip of the iceberg.
“After making it through the highly competitive and exhaustive selection process, they put all their previous experience and skills to the test during our flight attendant initial training,” said Allison Ausband, Delta’s senior vice president of In-Flight Service.
The eight-week training program takes place at the Atlanta headquarters, and requires participants to complete tests on everything from CPR, putting out fires, to water evacuations and meal presentations.
Only after successful completion will flight attendants earn their wings.
How much do flight attendants make?
There are a lot of different factors that will determine how much a flight attendant earns. That said, the average entry-level flight attendant can expect to make $25,000 per year, with an opportunity to earn more depending upon schedule. In addition to salary, Delta has a competitive compensation package which includes health and insurance coverage, 401(k) with a company match, a profit-sharing program, and worldwide travel privileges.
According to Glassdoor, a job search site, flight attendants at Delta have the opportunity to take home between $48,000 and $98,000 a year during their careers. Nationally, the average flight attendant makes $53,210 per year.
There are a few factors that can put you at the higher end of that pay scale. If you speak a language other than English, Delta may consider you for “Language of Destination” flight attendant roles, which offer additional pay as well as more responsibilities. Having a college education and more than one year of work experience in a personalized customer service, patient care, or similar role can also help you earn more money.
Pros and cons of the job
The biggest plus to being a flight attendant is the travel. Many flight attendants enjoy long layovers in different cities, allowing them to explore and see the sites. The accommodations will be paid for in whatever city or destination you land, so that’s more money you can spend on experiences.
For leisure travel, airline employees also receive free or discounted air travel for themselves and family members. On the blog, The Flight Attendant Life, one woman details how travel agreements allowed her to fly from Hawaii to New Zealand for just $90 USD. Tickets can even be free on certain routes, especially those within the U.S.
Also, flight attendants work less than your typical 9-to-5 worker. According to the Association of Flight Attendants or (AFA), flight attendants can work anywhere from 65 hours to 95 hours a month, compared with the standard office worker who logs about 160 hours a month.
On the flipside, working as a flight attendant has some setbacks. According to The Flight Attendant Life, the work/life balance can be difficult for new hires. New flight attendants don’t have much say on where they fly and may have to pick up a shift at the last minute. This also means you won’t have weekends off.
Jet lag is also a real obstacle. Jumping from time zone to time zone will affect your body’s circadian rhythm. In a recent Los Angeles Times article, one flight attendant revealed that many of his colleagues rely on prescription meds just to get some rest after a long flight. It’s not ideal, but sleep is an issue that most flight attendants have to face sooner or later.
If you can handle all of this, then perhaps a career as a flight attendant in in your future. Applications are currently open.
Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.