Being a flight crew staff member can be a very rewarding career endeavor. It can satisfy your need to travel, see new places, move about, stay busy, operate large machinery and provide excellent customer service. However, this is not a career that should be considered lightly. Being part of a flight crew can also be very stressful. As we have seen from stories in the media, pilots, co-pilots and flight attendants can grow weary of the long hours, back to back shifts, time away from their homes and heavy expectations on them and snap. Flight crew members have a history of being deeply, psychologically effected by their work. Training to be a pilot, co-pilot or flight attendant is not for the faint of heart, but if you are stable and goal oriented with a taste for rootlessness, it could be the perfect position for you.
- Pilots have a reputation for being the most respected flight crew staff members. This is because they have more flight training and experience than anyone else on board. They are responsible for the complex operations of the plane, as well as ultimately responsible for the safety of everyone on board. It can take anywhere from three months to three years to become certified as a pilot, but typically a commercial airline pilot will have years of training and experience under their belt before receiving their title.
- Co-pilots are also certified as pilots, but they assume a secondary role when they are assigned the position of co-pilot on a flight crew. A co-pilot does not have as much responsibility as a pilot, but they do carry a similar amount. They are present to fly and land the plane should anything happen to the pilot, and they are meant to perform aviation tasks along with the pilot to manage the aircraft. Co-pilots are frequently less experienced than the pilot or in training, but sometimes a more experienced pilot will be assigned the position of co-pilot for a variety of reasons.
- Flight Attendants are the flight crew staff members who the average person interacts with the most. They are the individuals who provide customer service and instructions to passengers for their safety and comfort. Despite the largely customer service oriented position they hold, they are actually trained in a number of technical duties to assist the pilot and co-pilot.