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Air cabin crew: Entry requirements

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A degree or HND/foundation degree is not required for entry into work as a cabin crew member. Instead, most airlines require a good secondary education, with some asking for grade C or above in English and maths.

Studying a degree/HND/foundation degree in one of the following subjects may be useful, however, in showing the airline you have an interest in this area:

  • languages;
  • travel;
  • leisure and tourism management;
  • hospitality management.

Being able to speak other languages may be particularly useful and this could put you at an advantage against other candidates.

A postgraduate qualification is not required.

Vocational qualifications (NVQs and BTECs) are available at different levels in various cabin crew topics. They are awarded by bodies such as:

Taster one and two-day courses, which give an indication of what cabin crew work is like, and other introduction courses for people who are new to cabin crew work are also available. For details, see course providers like  and .

While completion of these courses and qualifications will demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the career, it will not guarantee a job. They may give you an edge over other candidates, but most airlines do not require them to be completed in order to consider you for a vacancy. 

The majority of airlines do have a certain list of requirements, however, which candidates must meet. This includes some or all of the following:

  • minimum age of 18, in some cases 21;
  • good standard of health and fitness with the ability to swim 25 metres unaided;
  • minimum height requirement (this may differ depending on airlines) and usually that height be in proportion to weight - in the UK it is often measured as reach rather than height;
  • good hearing and eyesight, although glasses and contact lenses are allowed;
  • valid passport permitting unrestricted travel worldwide;
  • Disclosure and Barring Service  check;
  • medical examination (some airlines may not require this).

Candidates also need to show evidence of the following:

  • communication skills;
  • exceptional customer service;
  • confidence in dealing with a range of people;
  • team working skills (different teams may be worked with every day) and be able to be supportive of colleagues;
  • discretion when dealing with VIPs/royalty;
  • competence in handling difficult situations and the ability to remain calm under pressure and in emergency situations;
  • the gift of being tactful and diplomatic but also assertive when necessary;
  • commercial awareness and sales skills;
  • flexibility in working unsocial hours on any day of the year;
  • the capability to work quickly and efficiently, often to tight time constraints;
  • numeracy skills for handling cash, including foreign currency;
  • the capacity to work in a confined space;
  • the ability to diffuse situations calmly and quickly.

Airlines may wish to see evidence of relevant work experience rather than qualifications, as they are keen to see that candidates have the required skills. Part-time or temporary work in customer service roles will be particularly useful, as will any work that demonstrates skills in teamwork and communication.

This is a highly competitive profession and candidates compete for jobs with a wide range of people, from school leavers to those with a significant amount of relevant experience. Airlines recruit throughout the year so keep checking relevant websites regularly and make speculative applications.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search postgraduate courses.

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Written by Jon Milnthorpe, AGCAS writer
March 2014

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