Want a career in the trucking industry, but don’t want to do the driving?
A truck dispatcher may be the right job for you. As a dispatcher, you’ll help ensure that drivers make delivers on time and to the right location. With a great starting salary and the opportunity to grow, a career as a dispatcher is a great choice.
What Does a Truck Dispatcher Do?
Truck dispatchers are responsible for scheduling drivers to either pick up or deliver loads to vendors or customers. They also handle a number of other tasks, including:
- Keeping records
- Monitoring driver logs for violations and errors
- Monitoring driver hours and equipment availability
- Keeping track of the weather in all driver locations
Dispatchers rely on trucking dispatch software and other technologies to help them do their jobs. These technologies include:
- GPS satellite systems to keep track of trucks in real-time
- Mapping software, like PC Miller, to plan routes
- Freight Logix
- Load management application, like LoadLink
Truck dispatchers may be in charge of regional or local trucks, or they may oversee trucks that are traveling cross-country.
Truckers communicate with dispatchers regularly during their trips, so their progress can be monitored and any issues can be quickly resolved.
Larger trucking companies employ teams of dispatchers, and each team is assigned to a specific geographic area. One dispatcher may be in charge of solving problems, while another may be in charge of arranging a new pickup or delivery. In smaller trucking companies, a single dispatcher will perform all of these tasks. When dispatchers communicate with drivers, they typically use either walkie-talkies or cell phones.
As mentioned earlier, dispatchers are required to keep thorough records. These records include incoming and outgoing calls to drivers as well as notes of any actions that were taken. Record of vehicle information, trucker routes, freight charges and estimated time of arrival are also kept. Dispatchers may also record changes in route, freight or destinations.
To put it simply, dispatchers are responsible for ensuring that deliveries get to their destination on time by resolving issues (such as mechanical or equipment failures), keeping track of the local weather and monitoring the driver’s progress.
How to Become a Truck Dispatcher
A high school diploma (or equivalent) is typically all that’s needed to become a dispatcher. However, a degree in logistics or transportation can improve your chances of being hired.
Other requirements include:
- Willingness to learn company-specific software programs.
- The ability to read and write in English. Bilingual is a plus.
- Excellent communication and organizational skills.
Most of what you need to know will be learned on the job. In some cases, employers will ask you to pass a written exam or a typing test before they’ll hire you. You may also need to pass a drug test, background check, vision test or a hearing test. Most companies will offer a training course of some kind, so you can learn the ins-and-outs of the job.
Currently, there are no training programs specifically for dispatchers, but a degree in logistics or transportation should give you the knowledge you need to get your foot in the door.
Depending on the trucking company, dispatchers may be required to have experience in the industry.
Dispatchers need to be organized, and have excellent communication and social skills to succeed. Problem-solving skills are also essential as dispatchers will be resolving trucker and customer issues on a regular basis. Excellent decision-making skills are also important.
What to Expect as a Dispatcher
Because you’ll be spending your day monitoring deliveries and communicating with drivers, you need to be comfortable relaying information back and forth between customers and drivers. In some cases, dispatchers will need to ask truckers to condense loads to make deliveries quickly or more efficiently. In this case, you’ll need to communicate back and forth between the customer and the trucker to make arrangements.
Dispatchers also tend to work long hours. The majority of the time is spent at a desk answering phone calls or entering information into a computer. However, truckers may call at any time of the day or night if a problem should arise. Most trucking companies only have a few dispatchers, so they’ll expect you to be reliable and a great multitasker.
There are generally two different types of dispatchers: short-distance and long-distance. A company that deals with long-distance transportation typically has a larger fleet of trucks, and deliveries are made over a larger distance. This can make the job complicated and stressful at times. However you will likely be working with a team that will help offset some of the work. A short-distance company will likely be making deliveries from warehouses to stores or customer homes.
As a dispatcher, you’ll be working from punch in to punch out. Most in the occupation say they rarely have time to take a break. At times, the work environment can get stressful, especially if there are multiple issues with more than one truck or delivery routes.
Truck Dispatcher Salary
Like any other job, that depends on experience level, location and the type of freight being monitored.
On average, truck driver dispatcher jobs come with a salary of $39,860 each year, or about $19 an hour. That’s slightly higher than the average salary of all non-emergency transport dispatchers.
Dispatching jobs are usually stepping stones to higher positions in a trucking company. Dispatchers who excel at their job can move up to become a manager or supervisor. Terminal managers earn an average salary of $62,000 a year, but the job does require more responsibilities. In many cases, managers are required to work weekends and long hours. Short training programs and courses are typically offered to new managers to help them get acquainted with the new responsibilities and expectations.
Location will also have an effect on how much you earn. In 2010, Delaware topped the list of top-paying states for dispatchers. On average, workers in the state were paid about $20 an hour, or roughly $43,000 a year. Other top-paying states include:
- Connecticut: $20,64 an hour
- Wyoming: $20.32
- Alaska: $20.30
- Nebraska: $20
As prominent transportation hubs, these states offer the highest salaries for truck driver dispatchers.
According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) growth in this occupation is on the decline. That being said, job opportunities are still favorable, especially for those with excellent computer and communication skills. The trucking industry is in an upswing, and dispatchers are the backbone of the industry. A good dispatcher will always be in high demand so long as there are truckers delivering freight from one location to another.