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Jobs Outlook: Flight Attendants




In the long run, opportunities for persons seeking flight attendant jobs should improve as the airline industry recovers from the aftereffects of September 11 and the downturn in the economy. Employment of flight attendants is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2012. Population growth and an improving economy are expected to boost the number of airline passengers. As airlines enlarge their capacity to meet rising demand by increasing the number and size of planes in operation, more flight attendants will be needed. However, over the next decade, one can expect that demand for flight attendants will fluctuate with the demand for air travel, which is highly sensitive to swings in the economy. During downturns, as air traffic declines, the hiring of flight attendants declines, and some experienced attendants may be laid off until traffic recovers.

Despite the improving outlook, competition is expected to be keen because this job usually attracts more applicants than there are jobs, with only the most qualified eventually being hired. Those applicants with at least 2 years of college and who have experience in dealing with the public should have the best chance of being hired. Also, job opportunities may be better with the faster growing regional and low-fare airlines.

The majority of job openings through the year 2012 will arise from the need to replace flight attendants who leave the labor force or transfer to other occupations, often for higher earnings or a more stable lifestyle. However, with the job now viewed increasingly as a profession, fewer flight attendants are leaving their jobs and job turnover is not as high as in the past. The average job tenure of attendants is currently more than 7 years and is increasing.