Worst Jobs of 2013…Flight Attendant?

By The Flying Pinto

Career Cast has listed flight attendant as the tenth worst job in America. You can read their article “here” to find out what other careers made the list. I would love to know how they compiled their information and if they actually talked to any flight attendants. I also found it interesting that there wasn’t one career on their best list that I would choose for myself. Dental Hygienist, Actuary and Software Engineer are a few. Not that there’s anything wrong with those choices but, we’re all different right? So, how do you compile a list like this? Here is the short paragraph about the flight attendant career you’ll find on their site:

“High stress, low pay and a shrinking job market all contribute to flight attendant’s inclusion among the worst jobs of 2013. The BLS projects virtually no change in job prospects, as airlines continue to consolidate and reduce staff.”

High stress: I can agree that there is stress involved with being a flight attendant or any other customer service job for that matter. The flight attendant lifestyle is not for everyone. There can be long hours, spent away from home and loved ones missed. I think most find out whether it’s the job for them or not within the first year. This is one of the main reasons I wrote my book, The Flying Pinto’s Flight Attendant Survival Guide. It’s a guide to help new hire flight attendants navigate through their first few years in the sky or those who are interested in knowing more about becoming a flight attendant.

Low Pay: This is a touchy subject for me. I am tired of everyone thinking that every flight attendant is at poverty level, which is one of the reasons I wrote, “Seven Surprising Reasons to be a Flight Attendant“. Yes, the first few years are tight, but if you do your research and choose your airline carefully being a flight attendant can be a pretty great gig financially. Am I rich? Yes, in terms of freedom and lifestyle. How many people can build their own schedule and work as little or as much as they want or need to? I still have a full time job, yet I am home for every school activity or family event I need to be home for. How’s my actual pay check? As good as, the higher end of a nurse’s salary. Not impressed? How about if I tell you that I  accomplish that in eight to twelve days of flying a month. And, that doesn’t factor in that I usually don’t check in until the evening of my first trip. I have many flight attendant friends that make six figures a year. Yes, they fly a lot, but who doesn’t work a lot to make that kind of money? The median income ($37,000) of a flight attendant is always skewed because most US airlines let their flight attendants drop all their trips and fly next to nothing every month or fly as much as they like. Another great advantage when life happens and you’re caring for aging parents, raising small children or any number of things that most people don’t have the luxury of taking a few months or a year off. The pay generally gets better after your fifth year of flying with yearly raises until your twelfth to fifteenth year depending on what airline you are with. I’m topped out and still have over twenty years of flying left before I retire.

Shrinking job market: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Employment of flight attendants is projected to experience little or no change from 2010 to 2020. Job prospects should be best for applicants with a college degree and experience in customer service.

All major US airlines have been actively hiring the past couple of years, so I am not sure where they got their information from.

I didn’t even mention the great layovers in Maui and Paris or the views from my office window! Want to know more about being a flight attendant? Check out my new book available on iBooks, amazon, Nook and Vook! It was a true labor of love as I love being a flight attendant and want to pass on what I know to those interested in pursuing an airline career!  I could be wrong, but I imagine it’s more fun than being an actuary, the number one career on Careercast.coms list.



  1. I’m a recovering lawyer after 25 years in the crash and burn lane of full time lawyering. Where did being a lawyer rank?

  2. The perks of traveling for free is incomparable.

  3. Tiffany Hawk @ 2013-04-26 06:50

    I would argue it’s one of the “hardest” jobs, or can be anyway. But it should still rank among the best jobs.

  4. Paul Flane @ 2013-04-28 23:32


    Your misleading statement about how highly paid flight attendants are is completely false. Not only do you work for the second highest paid carrier in the industry you are also topped out on your carriers pay scale at $48.15 an hour. The average flight attendant flies between 75 and 90 hours a month. If you flew 83 hours a month you would be making roughly $48k a year. You claim that you make as much as a higher end nurse would make. $48k a year falls well below the average yearly income of a nurse, $64k a year. Yes, $48k a year does not factor in per diem allowance but per diem is not considered income by the IRS because it is intended to be used for food and transportation costs while on a trip.

    Back to the claim that you make as much as a higher end nurse. The top ten percent of nurses make more than $95k a year. In order to make anywhere close to this amount you would be required to fly nearly 150 hours a month. You stated that you work between eight and twelve days a month. This would mean that you would have to work at least thirteen flight hours a day for each of the days you work. This is impossible because of the fact that the FAA limits flight attendants to working fourteen DUTY hours a day.

    Please stop with your false and highly misleading statements regarding flight attendant pay. The fact is the Department of Labor Statistics reports that the average flight attendant (half make less, half make more) makes $37k/year. Not only would a new hire flight attendant (The audience your articles seem to be aimed towards) makes significantly less (In some cases $20k a year less) their first year it would also take them at least seven years to reach the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics Average) average salary of $37k/year. Your assertion that the statistics are somehow skewed is completely false. There are plenty of other occupations that allow employees to drop/trade and pickup shifts. This is not unique to the flight attendant occupation.

  5. The Flying Pinto @ 2013-04-29 00:25

    Paul, I clearly state that I am capped out in pay. I don’t hold high time turns, but with the flexibility I have I am able to average 9-10 hours of flight pay per day. You’re off on my pay, add five dollars an hour to what you thought and five more dollars to that for any hours flown over 67. Then there’s flying through vacation and when the airline has short coverage and I pick up you can add another twenty two dollars an hour (time and a half) Then theres holding pay, galley pay and night pay. I’m sure you can get a hold of a contract and see for yourself. I have always stated that if someone would like to make being a FA a career they should do their research and pick the airline that fits their needs for the long term. I’ve also always stated that you need to pay your dues. At my airline it takes about five years to start making decent money. And, there are many many who do extremely well. Yes, six figures. I know them personally. What I meant when I said the average is skewed, is because some FAs choose to fly a lot and some choose to just hang onto the job for their benefits. You can’t possibly come up with an average from the variety of flyers out there. Obviously some airlines pay poorly, but that is not what I am writing about. Cheers and wishing you the best.

  6. Thanks for sharing your take on being a flight attendant. The flexible schedule has to be huge perk!

  7. hi .. where do I buy your book please? is it available on Amazon? can’t seem to find it.. thks

  8. The Flying Pinto @ 2013-05-03 07:44

    Hi! Yes, you can find it on Amazon, iBooks and nook. http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00CD7OAWC/ref=redir_mdp_mobile It is currently only in ebook format. Thank you!!

  9. What a great article. My friends wife here in Toronto confirms the same. You start small, work hard apply yourself, have more control of flight selections. The perks are fantastic and yes they are adding more plans, routes and in the Fall recruiting some 100-150 FA’s. Thanks again, great post.

  10. A friend of mine is a flight attendant for Southwest, and she loves it!

  11. Oh really? my girl friend want to be flight attendant.. unfortunately, she postpone it and move to bank job

  12. Maria Lopez @ 2013-06-12 00:05

    Is there a height restriction? I am pretty short and I saw on some websites that there are and some say there aren’t. 🙁

  13. travelling for free is a huge bonus. just came on in the business a few yrs. ago, and enjoying every minute

  14. Oh, infact it’s really a good job with high salary in Vietnam

  15. Eddy Bonnte @ 2013-10-09 02:37

    I am quite surprised that flight attendants could make this list. I have always thought that being a flight attendant is one of the high end jobs in America. I do however,agree that the long working hours that flight attendants have to put in can be detrimental to their relationships.

  16. I know a nurse quite well and nurses in her union working the 3-11PM shift are paid ~$75/hr. So again, while your high hour logging colleagues are making six figures, I suspect a nurse working the same amount does significantly better.

  17. Katherine @ 2013-12-02 09:25

    Having been an FA for 12 years, entering the industry in midlife in 2000, I can surely vouch for the other side of the story and say that unfortunately, there are perks that come with high seniority that no new FAs will ever see unless the industry decides to go back about 15 years. In the cutthroat aviation business, this will never happen, sadly. Those of us who joined any major American airline in 2000 thought we were joining at a time of relatively strong growth but 9/11 changed all of that. In my former airline, FAs with 15 years seniority are still flying reserve. I’d respectfully suggest that the flexibility to which you refer is the exclusive domain of long-time, senior FAs and will not apply to those who are relatively new or want to begin this career.