The stigmas from over-branding yourself with a training vendor’s identity and stating you are “certified”
In my previous blog, The Name Game for Cabin Crew in Business Aviation, I discussed what we are titled and why. To quickly summarize, it really doesn’t matter what you are called or how you title yourself. What matters is; are you featuring your title in a productive or counterproductive manner while representing your brand as a Corporate Flight Attendant, on your resume and social media?
Over the years, I have seen many discussions on forums regarding training vendors and “certification.” These threads typically become contentious and never produce any proactive or accurate outcomes. These “missteps” by cabin crew are becoming more prevalent therefore, I am diving deep and bringing these points of contention to surface, and discussing them in a non-biased manner.
Ok, let’s get to it!
USING “CERTIFIED” IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE
Are Corporate Flight Attendants (or whatever you are titled) “certified” after being cabin safety trained? In the USA, if you are referring to being “FAA certified” by attending a training vendor program, such as Aircare FACTS Training or FlightSafety International, to become a corporate flight attendant – then no, you are not “FAA Certified.”
There are a few training vendors who use the certified terminology, stating you are “certified by <insert company name>.” In this case, the use of “certified” is per their program, product, and is basically a stamp of their own self-accredited approval, which is fine. However, this type of training vendor accreditation means nothing in the regulatory world. It only means you have been certified to the company’s program and standards. In short, you are certified by the training vendor – not by the FAA, or any other governing rule.
Side Note: there are some private aviation companies that actually have certified cabin crew because they took the tedious steps to accomplish this. I have actually assisted a few operations with being FAA certified and successfully passing their proving runs. These types of operations are very rare but they do exist and are just another hidden layer within our diversified industry. The same goes for the FAA Certification card some of us CFA’s carry. CFA’s have these cards because they are/were with a commercial airline, or were part of a certification process like previously mentioned.
I plan on discussing all of the global regulatory standards for business aviation cabin safety training per FAA, CAR’s, ICAO, EU/EU OPs, EASA, Attestation, etc. in future blogs. All of this information for cabin crew (globally) gets very muddled and there is too much inaccurate information out there being shared or misinterpreted. Ok, back to the blog …
CFA’s using “certified” in their title, such as; “certified corporate flight attendant,” is usually flagged by hiring managers and recruiters. To be blunt, using “certified’ incorrectly as part of your title will backfire on your credibility as it displays naivety in this industry. Instead, you should be accrediting yourself as a “trained corporate flight attendant or cabin attendant.” Trained is a more accurate statement since in fact, you are trained.
Is there a double-standard when it comes to naming vendors by name in your accredited title? Yes.
OVER-BRANDING YOURSELF WITH A VENDOR IDENTITY
If you are branding yourself with the vendors name on your resume and social media – I have news for you – you are severely restricting your marketability. Yes, you were trained by them, maybe mentored, and/or referred to potential clients. Ok, that’s great! Be grateful and say thank you. Once you are trained, you are now the owner of your corporate flight attendant branding – not the vendor.
You attended a training vendor who provided a service. They are not a cult, culture, or a lifestyle for CFA’s. If you graduated from an Ivy league school, you are not titling yourself as the school, you are titling yourself with the degree you achieved – aka “trained corporate flight attendant.” If this vendor is not recognized or accepted by a flight operation (for whatever reason, and there are many) and you have their name bannered so it’s the first thing a hiring manager or recruiter sees, they will stop reading. Again, they WILL stop reading. Period. I’m not telling you to omit or hide the vendor’s name from your resume, you should list them under the TRAINING section. The reader needs to know where and when you were trained however, you don’t need to have them credited as a marquis.
TAKE YOUR PICK BUT CHOOSE WISELY
In the USA, there are several cabin safety training vendors to choose from. If you ask 10 corporate flight attendants who they recommend, you will receive a variety of opinions. STRONG OPINIONS! Again, let me be crystal clear – there are NO FAA certifications associated with corporate-specific cabin safety training. If a company promotes, they are “FAA certified” and this is influencing your decision, take immediate pause, and move on to the next option as this is a false claim. There are no exceptions.
You may be swayed or encouraged to brand yourself because the training vendor also provides job leads and/or placement services once you have completed the training, or they are shameless enough to just flat out tell you to do this. Although they may provide these additional services, as an industry “expert,” I can assure you there are still no guarantees you will find success, even with their support. Completing your training is similar to achieving a degree from a technical school. After graduation, it’s up to you to self-network and market yourself as a trained professional. Any reputable training vendor will provide guidance, direction, and possibly mentorships – but they won’t insist on tattooing their name on your forehead.
All training providers basically follow the required guidelines for cabin safety training and some do this better than others. Much better. However, you’re still not certified even if you attend one of the ‘much better.’ The quality of training you receive and the all-important industry recognition of the vendor is what differs vastly. So, which training vendors are the best? It’s no secret FlightSafety International (FSI) and Aircare FACTS Training (FACTS) are the top two recognized training vendors. It is also heavily debated within our CFA peer group which of these two is the best. These opinions are purely subjective as they are both considered the “gold standard” of cabin safety training. Why? Because they have been in operation for many years and basically created the standards for business aviation cabin safety. FACTS launched in 1981 when it was still the acronym F.A.C.T.S. (Flight Attendant Cockpit Training Seminars) and held twice a year. FACTS is now Aircare FACTS Training under the parent company Aircare International. FSI was established in 1951 and launched cabin safety training in 1994. Therefore, they are both well-branded and well-established companies, with solid and respected programs, and are considered equals in the recognition branding game by the majority of flight operations.
Will you face additional hurdles if you choose to attend another training vendor other than Aircare FACTS or FlightSafety? Maybe. The main reason flight departments only accept FACTS and FSI is because for many years, they were the only “game in town.” Therefore, operators structured their ops and procedures manuals stating these two vendors by name as required training. Revising ops manuals to include other training vendors is a tedious step many operators are not willing to take. So, it all comes down to the “name game” due to long-term branding.
The lessor known training vendors tend to be more boutique in design and may offer a new to industry individual more of a one-on-one focused relationship, the much-needed soft skills training bundled with cabin safety, and career support. Is this a perk? Maybe (yes, another maybe). The reality check is: it’s not the quality of the curriculum or training you receive. It’s the recognition and acceptance of the training vendor. This is the caveat. Some of the newer vendors are building momentum and actually have solid curriculums. Recognition takes time … a long time, especially when competing against the two gold-standards in business aviation.
The double standard I referred to earlier is: If you write, “Aircare FACTS Certified” or “FlightSafety Certified” you most likely will not receive any pushback. If you write any other vendor name along with “certified,” it will likely cause contention. The Name Game is real and because FACTS and FSI have been in business for over 30 years – they get a pass.
The other training vendors may have been able to carve out a small piece of the training pie but the slices for FACTS and FSI will always be gluttonous. This debate can be endless and one thing I have learned in this industry; it doesn’t matter the size of the slice the other vendors serve themselves. It doesn’t matter if the slice tastes sweet or sour. If you are expecting these vendors to equal FACTS and FSI in the Name Game, you have a very long time to wait. “It just is, what it is” because these two gold-standard companies are holding the pie knife, and they always will.
No matter which training vendor you attend, well-branded or lesser known, there are no guarantees you will find or sustain your success. As a corporate flight attendant seeking full-time or an independent contractor seeking additional clients, YOU are your best networking and self-marketing asset. Therefore, allow your qualifications, skills, training, professionalism, personality, and experience to showcase your eligibility.
I admit, branding yourself with the training vendor on your resume and social media is very savvy – savvy for the vendor, not for you. You should focus on the most proactive ways to self-market yourself as a professional corporate flight attendant, and let the training, you financed, speak for itself.
Scott D. Arnold President/Founder - Sājet Solutions, Inc. Chief Flight Attendant - Private G550 Owner Professional Speaker, Consultant, and Presenter Scott began his aviation career in 1988 as a commercial flight attendant and made the transition into business aviation in 2001 as a freelance corporate flight attendant. Prior to aviation, he began his service industry career in hotel management as a service specialist, troubleshooter, and trainer. He has extensive training in culinary, fine dining, service and business etiquette. He is experienced in virtually all facets of business aircraft and also has extensive experience organizing and “streamlining” flight department procedures and managing crew-members in a variety of flight operations. Scott is the former Director Aircare Crews Staffing, trainer and program development manager for Aircare FACTS Training, former co-owner of Corporate Flight Solutions. Scott is also the past Chair NBAA Flight Attendants Committee (National Business Aviation Association), and was a founding member of the steering committee for the creation of a European Flight Attendant Committee and European Cabin Service Conference, and currently serves on the committee’s Advisory Council. Scott has extensive experience with creating customized cabin safety and inflight service standards for business aviation flight departments, as well as coordinating the successful transition in the type of operation such as; FAR91 to FAR125, focusing on cabin safety standards and regulations, performing redundancy evacuation drills to ensure FAA approval, compliancy, and implementation.