Pursers and Flight Attendants

Occupation:Pursers and Flight Attendants
Category:Sales and Service

About the job

Nature of work:

Airline pursers and flight attendants ensure the safety and comfort of passengers and crew members during flights. Airline pursers and flight attendants are employed by airline companies. Ship pursers attend to the safety and comfort of passengers aboard ships. Ship pursers are employed by tour boat or cruise ship companies.

Job duties:
The following is a summary of main duties for some jobs in this group:
  • Flight attendants greet passengers, explain and demonstrate safety procedures, check the general condition of the aircraft cabin, ensure that all necessary supplies are on board, attend to safety of passengers during take-offs, landings, and emergencies, serve food and beverages to passengers and make flight announcements.
  • Flight pursers, customer service directors and passenger service directors coordinate the activities of flight attendants, provide service to passengers during flight and complete reports.
  • Ship pursers supervise ship attendants, arrange activities for passengers and conduct ship's business, such as signing on crew, maintaining payroll records, assisting passengers in preparing customs declarations and supervising baggage storage.
Sample job titles:
  • airline purser
  • flight attendant
  • flight purser
  • in-flight service manager
  • purser - water transport
  • ship supply officer

For this type of work, you should be poised, organized, tactful, and patient. You must be able to work long hours in confined spaces and be able to cope with turbulence and other conditions. Interpersonal skills and the ability to deal comfortably with strangers are important. You should be resourceful and able to handle the unexpected. This work may require being away from home for extended periods of time. Knowledge of the travel business or the specific areas of tourism in which you work will be required. Good communication skills are essential. Knowledge of both official languages and an additional language may be required.

Job requirements:
  • Flight attendants and flight pursers require the completion of secondary school and a training program approved by Transport Canada.
Other considerations:

General economic conditions will have an impact on the level of business and pleasure travel undertaken by Nova Scotians. Therefore, employment levels will vary from year to year in many of these jobs. Flight pursers/customer service directors require experience as a flight attendant. Ship pursers may require experience as a ship attendant. Flight attendants and ship pursers usually require experience working with the public. There is little mobility between airline pursers and ship pursers. It is an advantage for pursers and flight attendants to speak more than one language.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Limited

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “limited”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is below average when compared with other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent and jobseekers may face competition. The number employed in this occupation is expected to decline slightly over the next few years, which may affect the number of new opportunities available. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Pursers and Flight Attendants most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs are typically permanent positions.

The median employment income for 46% of Pursers and Flight Attendants who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $56,914. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Pursers and Flight Attendants305decline slightly10Moderate
Minimum: $11.75
Median: $16.65
Maximum: $28.00
Minimum: $14,485
Median: $51,395
Maximum: $71,525
Occupations in Sales and Service102,605Decline slightly5,260Moderate
Minimum: $10.70
Median: $12.50
Maximum: $21.17
Minimum: $2,949
Median: $16,629
Maximum: $45,086
Pursers and Flight AttendantsCompared to: Occupations in Sales and Service
Percent employed full-time82%59%
Percent self-employed0%6%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentPursers and Flight AttendantsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton20%x13%$32,974
Annapolis Valley10%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgePursers and Flight AttendantsCompared to: All Sales and Service
% Employed% Employed
Median Age4737
GenderPursers and Flight AttendantsCompared to: Occupations in Sales and Service
% Employed% Employed
EducationPursers and Flight AttendantsCompared to: All Sales and Service
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high schoolN/A$25,29118.8%$9,486
High school35.7%$17,91240.4%$12,982
Trades certificate8.6%x8.0%$18,797
College certificate or diploma32.9%$34,17919.9%$19,514
University certificate or diploma4.3%x1.6%$18,279
Bachelor's degree17.1%$18,23910.0%$20,807
University advanced certificate or diplomaN/Ax0.5%$15,716
Master's degreeN/Ax0.8%$20,769
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryN/Ax0.1%$17,368
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile
Useful contacts:
Nova Scotia Tourism Talent
2089 Maitland Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2Z8
Tel: (800) 948-4267
Fax: (902) 422-0184
Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Sector Council
2089 Maitland Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2Z8
Tel: (902) 422-5853
Fax: (902) 422-0184

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Airline flight attendant
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the trades/college level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to apply technical knowledge and skills to the performance of a variety of personal services conducive to the safety and comfort of airline passengers during flight, including verifying tickets, explaining the use of safety equipment, providing passenger services, and responding to in-flight emergencies.
See all institutions providing this program+
Atlantic Flight Attendant Academy
6148 Quinpool Rd, Suite 200
Halifax, NS B3L 1A3
(902) 422-0339
Program Name:French as a second language (Canada)
Education Level:This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the development of proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking French for those for whom French is not their mother tongue. These programs include courses in the use of basic communication skills to develop and transmit ideas and thoughts in French as well as specialized programs that focus on the development of proficiency in French sufficient to meet specific occupational or academic demands.
See all institutions providing this program+
Acadia University
15 University Avenue
Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6
(902) 542-2201
Mount Saint Vincent University
166 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2J6
(902) 457-6117
Universite Sainte-Anne
Siège Social: 1695, Route 1
Pointe-de-l'Église, NS B0W 1M0
(902) 769-2114
Additional resources:

There are no additional resources for this occupation.