Flying is a dream job for so many people who become flight attendants, but some of us eventually move on to other careers. There are many valid reasons for ex-flight attendants to opt for a “land job.” Whatever your reason to leave aviation is, you will have plenty of options to pursue as an ex-flight attendant when hunting for a new job.
As an ex flight attendant myself, I have put together some career ideas and tips to help you market your experience in the airline industry for a successful job hunt.
Table of Contents
Top Career Options for Ex-Flight Attendants
There are so many opportunities for ex-flight attendants, here are the top 10 options for you to consider.
1. Flight Attendant Instructor
If you don’t want to leave the airline industry entirely, becoming a flight attendant instructor is a great option.
In many cases, airlines hire instructors from within, since you already have all the necessary skills and knowledge needed to teach new flight attendants how to do their jobs, you just have to apply to switch roles and do a little extra training.
At my old airline, instructors also had the option of returning to the skies if they eventually decided they would like to fly again.
So this job is a perfect fit for ex-flight attendants who know they love their job but have a good reason to be on the ground for a few years.
2. Airline HR
Similar to becoming an instructor, switching to an HR position at an airline allows you to stay in the industry.
Ex-flight attendants have many transferrable skills and competencies that would make them perfect HR associates including:
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Conflict resolution
You will also have an advantage when it comes to getting hired, since you already understand the industry.
3. Cruise Hospitality
If you need to get out of the skies, but don’t want to give up traveling for work, working for a cruise line might really float your boat.
Depending on the role you apply for some of the skills and competencies you will be able to use from your airline experience include:
- Customer service
- Ability to work irregular hours
- Willingness to travel
- Attention to safety
From cruise director to guest-relations managers, there are a number of different roles in the cruise industry that ex-flight attendants are well qualified for.
4. Hotel Hospitality
Ex-flight attendants are masters of guest relations, making them highly qualified for roles in hotel hospitality.
Other skills ex-flight attendants bring to the table for this role include:
- Ability to “rescue” customer experiences when something goes wrong
- Communication (it’s a recurring theme here).
- Patients and calm in the face of stressful situations and angry customers.
Possible positions include: front desk associate, concierge, or even hotel manager.
5. Travel consulting and itinerary planning
Out of all of the job ideas on this list, this one sounds like so much fun to me, personally.
The skills you need for this job are probably ones you developed on your layovers and include:
- Knowledge about various different destinations and the things worth seeing and doing.
- An understanding of the travel industry so your clients get the best hotels, tours, and restaurants.
- The ability to listen to your clients and get to know them quickly so you can anticipate their needs and preferences.
The creativity you would get to use in this role makes it really attractive, I think.
6. Tour Guide
This would be another fun job for an ex-flight attendant. In some cases, this job would even allow you to permanently relocate to your favorite layover destination.
Skills you probably already have for this job include:
- Public speaking
- Ability to control larger groups of people
- Attention to the safety of your clients
You could do this job with a company or as a personal business. I know many people who market tours through Airbnb, so they can be their own bosses and have complete freedom in their work lives.
7. Language instructor
If you are an ex-flight attendant with foreign language skills, you can put those to use as a language instructor or private tutor.
Other skills that you can take with you for this job include:
- The ability to relate to your clients on a personal level so they are comfortable learning with you.
- Classroom management is strikingly similar to passenger management
- Public speaking
Private tutors can make good money, you just have to be creative about how you market yourself so you can amass enough clients to pay your bills.
It could also be fun to teach language-intensive courses to international students at language schools.
Another option for ex-flight attendants with language skills is to work as a translator.
There are also a number of settings in which this can be done. You could do text translations for publishers or corporations, or live translations for various organizations.
Skills you need that you probably developed while flying include:
- Ability to communicate effectively in a foreign language
- Quick thinking to translate in real-time
- Problem-solving and time management skills.
So many companies need translators these days, you can easily find work translating as a full-time job or as a freelance side gig.
9. Brand Representative
Brand representatives talk to potential customers about the virtues of the brands they are promoting.
Flight attendants are naturally a good fit for this type of position because they have the following skills:
- The ability to communicate and embody a brand’s image and values
- Strong people skills that allow them to pitch products in a way that resonates with clients
- Sales experience – especially if you did sky-mall sales, or credit card sales.
If you can find work as a brand representative for travel-related companies, even better!
Ex-flight attendants make great teachers because they already have plenty of practice managing passengers.
It might require you to go back to school to get a teaching certificate, and maybe even a BA or MA in the topic you would like to teach, but once you are in the classroom the following skills will serve you well:
- The flight attendant “voice” to get students to listen
- Ability to stay calm in chaos, especially if the kids are young and energetic
- Empathy for your students
I currently work in academia, which is similar to teaching, and I feel like I use my ex-flight attendant skills quite a bit.
Tips for a Successful Job Hunt and Transition
Leaving the airline industry, especially if you still enjoy flying, can be a big and a bittersweet decision, so it is important to do a little homework, revamp your resume, and identify what you want to gain by changing careers.
Here are our tips to successfully land a new dream job after aviation.
✅ Tip 1: Do some soul searching
It is good to do some journaling, or reflecting, to identify the key skills you would like to use and develop at your next job, and what your interests are for your new career, so you end up with a job that is fulfilling.
- What kind of clients do I want to work with?
- What would my dream schedule look like?
- Where do I want to live?
- Why am I leaving the airline?
It is important to apply for jobs that suit your interests, skill set, and lifestyle so you can convincingly tell recruiters why you want the job you are applying for, and why you are leaving the airline industry.
✅ Tip 2: Tailor your resume and cover letter for each application
For each job you apply to, you need to make sure your resume and cover letter speak to that job.
💡 My advice: instead of using an old-fashioned Word resume, opt for a modern template like one of these.
It is always good to research the company you are applying to and include mentions of the values you share with that company, and why you would be a good fit for the role you are wanting to take on.
✅ Tip 3: Identify your transferrable skills and competencies
Some of the top skills you have as an ex-flight attendant include:
- Emergency management (or regular stressful situations)
- Customer service
- Brand representation
- Foreign languages
- Public speaking
While some of your top core competencies that will serve you well in new roles include:
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Ability to work well in a team
- Ability to remain calm and work under pressure
Of course, there are many more skills and competencies that you gained as a flight attendant, these are just meant to be examples to get you started.
Of course, it is recommended to highlight these transferrable skills in your cover letters and interviews.
✅ Tip 4: Consider additional training or education
Going back to school after leaving aviation can be a great option too.
I went back to school to get my graduate degrees, but there are so many different directions you can take.
IT schooling, language certifications for teaching, wilderness rescue trainings, the world is your oyster!
✅ Tip 5: Be Open to entry-level positions and gradual career growth
Sometimes it can feel like starting all over when you switch careers, and depending on your age, which can sting, especially if you hold some expectations about where you “should” be in life.
Keeping an open mind and remembering you are never too old, and it is never too late, to start again can make the prospect of starting at the bottom of the ladder a bit easier to choke down.
Most likely you will excel at whatever you decide to do next in life, and your higher-ups will recognize that and help you move through the ranks as quickly as possible.
Leaving the airline industry can be scary. I know I felt a lot of anxiety when I chose to stop flying and go back to school.
Now, three years later, I have realized my dream of becoming a PhD researcher in Germany, and I am so glad I took the risk to leave the airline behind.
You too can take the plunge if you feel that is the right path for you.