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What does it cost to become a flight attendant?

Becoming a flight attendant can be an exciting career path, but like any job, there are costs associated with the training and certifications required. This article will break down the key requirements and expenses to expect when pursuing this profession.

Flight Attendant Training Programs

The first major cost to factor is the flight attendant training program. While not always required, completing a formal training program can make you more competitive when applying to airlines.

Most programs range from 4 to 8 weeks and cover topics like aviation terminology, in-flight procedures, emergency protocols, customer service, and more. Popular flight attendant schools include:

  • Flight Attendant School of America – $1,200 to $3,350 depending on program length
  • Travel Academy – $499 to $1,499 for online programs
  • Horizon Aviation Flight Training School – $1995 for 4-week program

In addition to tuition, other costs may include supplies, textbooks, uniforms, and housing if attending a program away from home. The total investment can range from $1,000 to over $5,000.

FAA Certification

Along with formal training, attending candidates must obtain an FAA Flight Attendant Certificate. To qualify you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass an FAA background check
  • Complete FAA-approved training
  • Pass an aircraft-specific exam for each plane you will work on

The application fee for the certificate is $158 and exam fees range from $150 to $220 each. Most airlines cover the costs associated with certification.


Flight attendants are required to have certain immunizations to work on commercial flights:

  • MMR vaccine – Measles, mumps, rubella – $70-$150
  • Varicella vaccine – Chicken pox – $115-$200
  • Tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis – TDAP – $30-$75
  • Seasonal flu shot – $20-$50 annually

Some airlines may require other immunizations like hepatitis A and B, meningitis, or yellow fever for international flights. Contact the hiring airline to learn their specific requirements.

Passport and Visa

For flight attendants working international routes, having a passport is mandatory. First-time passport applicants must pay a fee of $145 and renewals cost $110. Passport photos can cost $15-$20.

If flying to and from countries frequently, multiple entry visas may be necessary. Visa fees vary greatly depending on country of origin and destination. Expect to invest at least $50-$100 for basic tourist visas.

Transportation and Lodging

Since flight attendants don’t live in a single location, transportation and lodging costs can add up:

  • Rideshare services – $20-$60 per day for travel to/from airport
  • Public transportation – $2-$8 per day for travel on layovers
  • Crashpad lodging – $200-$400 per month for shared housing near airport
  • Hotel stays – $50-$100 per night as needed

Savings can be found by rooming with other attendants in a crashpad and utilizing free hotel stays when possible. But it’s smart to budget at least $500 monthly in transportation and lodging costs.

Uniforms and Gear

Airlines provide flight attendant uniforms, but attendants must pay for accessories and replacement items. Standard gear costs include:

  • Luggage – $100-$300 for a quality wheeled bag
  • Toiletries – $20-$40 per month for travel-size items
  • Replacements – $150-$300 annually for worn uniforms
  • Shoes – $50-$150 for slip-resistant styles

Uniform components like shirts, pants, skirts, and jackets are typically provided. But attendants must buy their own shoes, luggage, cosmetics, and replace worn uniform pieces as required.

Additional Qualifications

Some airlines have additional qualifications to consider that also impact costs:

  • Degree – Many require at least an associate or bachelor’s degree
  • CPR certification – Renewal cost of $20-$50 every 2 years
  • Background check – $50-$100 fee in some cases
  • Drug test – $30-$50 initial screen and random tests

While not universal, many leading airlines do expect candidates to hold a college degree in any field. CPR certification is also common along with criminal background checks and drug screenings.

Estimated Costs Summary

Based on average costs, here is an estimated total for becoming a flight attendant:

Item Estimated Cost
Training program $2,000
FAA certification $300
Immunizations $400
Passport and visas $200
Monthly commute/lodging $700
Luggage and gear $500
Uniform replacement $300
Qualifications $100
Total $4,500

Thisexcludes ongoing costs like transportation, lodging, food, and uniform replacement when actively employed. First-year expensescan easily exceed $5,000 when including these recurring expenses.

Financing Options

For those unable to self-finance flight attendant training, some financing options exist:

  • Loans – Personal loans, student loans, credit cards
  • Payment plans – Pay tuition over 3-6 months interest-free
  • Employer programs – Get training covered when hired
  • Scholarships – Awards by airlines and organizations

Loans allow upfront funding but accrue interest over time. Payment plans through schools spread costs over months with no interest. Airline and third-party scholarships help offset expenses for eligible applicants.

Is it Worth the Investment?

At approximately $5,000 for training and certifications, plus ongoing costs, becoming a flight attendant requires considerable investment. But many see it as a worthwhile career investment for these benefits:

  • Ability to travel and see the world
  • Exciting, fast-paced work environment
  • Meeting new people every day
  • Competitive salaries and flight benefits
  • Flexible scheduling with ability to choose flights

With an average salary of $56,000 per year and flight benefits, the investment can pay off long-term for those drawn to the exotic lifestyle and exciting duties of a flight attendant.


Becoming a flight attendant involves several major costs like training programs, certifications, uniforms, transportation, and lodging. It’s important to budget $5,000 to $10,000 to cover these one-time and recurring expenses. Financing options can help offset costs through loans, employer-sponsored programs, and scholarships.

While not inexpensive, the investment opens the door to an adventurous career filled with travel and new experiences. For individuals intrigued by aviation and hospitality roles, flight attending offers rewards that go beyond the financial.