Major airlines are required by law to provide flight attendants for the safety and security of the traveling public. Although the primary job of the flight attendants is to ensure that security and safety regulations are followed, attendants also try to make flights comfortable and enjoyable for passengers (BLS).
Starting salary range
Starting flight attendant salaries range from $23,897 (Nevada) to $45,781 (North Carolina)*.
A flight attendant's median salary is $56,145 and maximum flight attendant salaries top out at over $75,000**. Interestingly, smaller companies tend to pay more than large companies, according to Payscale's Median Salary by Company Size Charts. The smaller companies likely refer to private jets and timeshare aircraft.
Opportunities for advancement
Flight attendants start out as substitutes, on reserve status and remain on call to fill in for vacancies. Flight attendants advance by having more choice over their schedule and routes, typically based on seniority. Some advance to lead, supervisory or managerial roles through experience. Others may move to different positions dealing with the public such as ticket windows, or reservations. Flight attendants gain additional education, such as a bachelor's degree in order to qualify for administrative or operations office roles.
Benefits and perks
Paid time off, health care, pension, education reimbursement, sick days, insurance, bonus, and taxes increase the total compensation package by an average 30.1%**, bringing the median flight attendant compensation to $81,043.
Salary negotiation tips
Negotiating salary can be tricky. Large airlines typically set up a salary range (or salary band), so the organization will have a little room to move on salaries (about 5-10%). Smaller private jets or time share companies may actually have a little more wiggle room on salary. Either way, don't expect an employer to give you a higher salary just because you ask. Instead, prepare a well documented justification and stay within the organization's salary range for the specific position so you'll have a good chance at getting the salary increase you're targeting.
Your greatest ability to negotiate salary is when you have options. Interview with a number of airlines, time-share jet companies, and private companies. In addition, do your homework – get salary information online with AOL Jobs Salary Center or from staffing and recruiting firms in your industry. Sometimes just having research on average salaries for your local market may provide rationale for a higher salary.
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* According to www.payscale.com.
** According to www.salary.com