Do Flight Attendants Have One of the Worst Jobs?


You know my motto: You gotta use fight attending or it’ll use you. That’s my short answer to CareerCast’s new survey ranking the best and worst jobs of 2013. Guess which end of that spectrum we fell on. Flight Attendant came in at 191 of 200.

My long answer takes a moment to revel in the details. It’s “better” than being a meter reader, lumberjack, or oil rig worker. Whoo hoo! But it’s worse than being a sheet metal worker or garbage collector. (Burn!) Then again, so is being a “corporate executive”.

What do flight attendants think? I informed a number of colleagues about this new ranking. Like me, most of them burst out laughing.

It’s true that the job can be thankless, but it’s also a rare tool and rich in unique rewards. In what other job can you control your own schedule – and fill that free time with high-minded hobbies (like writing!) or outrageous mobility, if you choose?

CareerCast’s reasons for the dismal ranking come down to “high stress, low pay, and a shrinking job market.” Let’s look at those.

High Stress: Mostly no. The threat of terrorism is (for me) the only consistent stress of our job, but what can ya do but be vigilant? Most other stresses are passing or petty. We rarely take our office politics home with us.

Low Pay: Ahh ha ha! Yes, if you came to the job for the money, you’re probably pissed right now. But money is a silly reason to flight attend. At least you have the option of working more hours. It’s not ideal, but it helps.

Job Growth 0% – Where are they getting that? Airlines are actually on a bit of a hiring spree right now. True, the industry can be volatile, so this is the most legitimate reason. I am fortunate enough to have never been in danger of furlough. For those that have, it is truly horrid. Yet, flight attendants are not the only ones who have seen a lot of pink slips in the last decade. At least we get called back when times turn better.

Of course there are other downsides. I have nearly fainted from working long, meal-less hours, gone more nights without sleep than I can count just to show up and have people sneer at me, and missed countless holidays with family (just to show up and have people sneer at me). But many jobs offer those headaches.  Thanks to flight attending I have also (e.g.) lived in multiple countries on a whim, been the VIP guest of A-listers, and treated my parents to vacations otherwise beyond our means. Find those perks in any of CareerCast’s “best” jobs and I’ll eat a Coach entrée.

Their survey just hasn’t a clue what people who choose to be flight attendants are after. You won’t find wealth and prestige working at an airline. But if you’re looking to be “rich” in other ways, I’d put the job at number one.

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Comments (Showing 2 of 2)

  • relangford at 6:20am May 08, 2013

    It is SO refreshing to hear someone who LIKES their job! Thank you.

  • usafwso at 10:26pm May 09, 2013

    Maybe a career change would be a good option.

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