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How Much Does a Flight Attendant Make a Year?

By Susan Guillory · January 18, 2024 · 6 minute read

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How Much Does a Flight Attendant Make a Year?

If you’re exploring career options, and the idea of seeing the world and meeting interesting people appeals to you, you may want to consider a career as a flight attendant.

One of your first questions may be, how much does a flight attendant make a year? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary is $63,760. However, that figure can change based on a number of factors, including your experience, skills, and education.

Let’s take a closer look.

What Are Flight Attendants?

If you’ve ever flown, you already have met flight attendants. They’re the people who greet you when you step on the plane, serve you food, and ensure your safety when you fly.

But flight attendants have many responsibilities you don’t see. They have to be well-versed in emergency procedures, should there be an issue on board. They interact with the pilots and create reports for each flight.

Being a flight attendant requires an outgoing personality. If that doesn’t describe you, you may want to explore jobs for introverts.


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How Much Do Starting Flight Attendants Make?

Compared to other jobs, flight attendants can make a good entry-level salary. For a flight attendant with less than one year of experience, the starting salary is about $60,487. This will, of course, depend on the airline that hires you and where you live.

Something else to consider: Compared to other jobs, training to become a flight attendant is relatively quick. Some programs are about six weeks long; after that, you’re ready to take to the skies.

Recommended: What Is Competitive Pay?

What is the Average Salary for a Flight Attendant?

The salary for a flight attendant just starting out is fairly high compared to some other jobs. But how much does a flight attendant make an hour? And just how much more could they earn with more experience under their belt?

It first helps to understand the difference between salary vs. hourly pay. Many flight attendants are paid by the hour, and the clock typically starts when the aircraft door is closed. That means that the period they spend greeting travelers and getting them settled is unpaid work.

While flight attendants don’t generally get overtime pay, they can earn extra money by working more hours or during holidays. Experience can play a role as well. The average hourly salary for a senior flight attendant is around $41 (or $84,637 per year), though some can earn as much as $55 or more per hour (or $115,126 per year).

No matter what your take-home pay is, online tools like a money tracker app can help you create budgets and keep tabs on your finances.

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TABLE: What Is the Average Flight Attendant Salary by City for 2023
Curious about how much a flight attendant makes per year where you live? Here are average annual salaries in cities around the U.S.

And if you’re interested in exploring other jobs, check out the highest-paying jobs by state.

City

Average Salary

Anchorage, AK $94,651
Mobile, AL $78,703
Little Rock, AR $78,585
Phoenix, AZ $84,068
San Diego, CA $91,839
Denver, CO $86,489
New Haven, CT $92,225
Delaware City, DE $89,289
Orlando, FL $80,839
Atlanta, GA $83,537
Honolulu, HI $88,268
Des Moines, IA $82,185
Boise, ID $79,253
Chicago, IL $89,774
Bloomington, IN $78,391
Kansas City, KS $83,443
Lexington, KY $79,800
New Orleans, LA $83,318
Cambridge, MA $95,885
Baltimore, MD $87,485
Bangor, ME $77,773
Ann Arbor, MI $87,817
Minneapolis, MN $90,668
Joplin, MO $78,873
Jackson, MS $76,172
Billings, MT $81,868
Asheville, NC $78,228
West Fargo, ND $79,843
Lincoln, NE $79,748
Concord, NH $87,332
Atlantic City, NJ $91,158
Albuquerque, NM $80,016
Reno, NV $85,902
New York City, NY $99,995
Cincinnati, OH $83,221
Oklahoma City, OK $77,741
Eugene, OR $83,758
Pittsburg, PA $83,826
Providence, RI $89,612
Charleston, SC $80,816
Pierre, SD $71,699
Chattanooga, TN $76,727
Houston, TX $86,591
Salt Lake City, UT $81,639
Alexandria, VA $94,736
South Burlington, VT $83,969
Bellevue, WA $93,902
Madison, WI $83,387
Charleston, WV $77,520
Cheyenne, WY $78,246

Source: Salary.com

Flight Attendant Job Considerations for Pay and Benefits

Before you see these figures and get excited about making lots of money as a flight attendant, understand that these are average salaries. When you’re just starting out, you’ll likely make much less. And depending on where you live and the duties and responsibilities you have as a flight attendant, your salary will vary.

Other factors that will impact how much you make include whether or not you have people who report to you, how long you’ve been working, and where you fly. Working international flights might also pay more than domestic flights.


💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

Pros and Cons of Flight Attendant Salary

Now that you know how much flight attendants make, let’s weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of the job.

Pros

For many people, the salary a flight attendant can make is impressive. And given that it doesn’t take years of study and hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans to become a flight attendant, the barrier to entry is lower.

Unless you’re looking for a work-at-home job for retirees, another perk of being a flight attendant is that you’ll get the opportunity to travel around the country or even the world.

Cons

Like any job, there are drawbacks to working as a flight attendant. For starters, you are likely to be paid hourly, and you might not get compensated for any work you do before the doors of the plane close.

While flying around the world sounds glamorous, many flight attendants tire of the long hours in the skies. There are potential health risks of frequent air travel to consider as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), air travel exposes you to cosmic ionizing radiation, which could impact your reproductive health. Plus, jet lag can make it difficult to keep a regular sleeping schedule.

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The Takeaway

Flight attendants have the opportunity to make good money, see other parts of the country or world, and typically only need a few weeks of training to start working. If you’re outgoing, enjoy working with people, and love to travel, becoming a flight attendant could be a good fit.

FAQ

What is the highest-paying flight attendant job?

How much does a flight attendant make per hour? While salaries vary depending on experience and location, on the high end, flight attendants can earn around $115,126 per year.

Is flight attendant a healthy job?

Constantly being on their feet and being quick to respond to travelers’ requests keeps many flight attendants in good shape. However, there are potential health risks to consider. Jet lag could disrupt your circadian rhythms, and being in the air exposes you to cosmic ionizing radiation, which could impact your reproductive health, according to the CDC.

How much do flight attendants make starting out?

While starting salaries can vary depending on location, airline, and responsibilities, many flight attendants starting out make around $60,487.


Photo credit: iStock/Adene Sanchez

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