Learn About Being a Dispatcher

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 10, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

What does a dispatcher do?

Dispatchers create and optimize delivery and transportation routes for professional drivers. They coordinate logistics with drivers and customers to ensure efficient, on-time deliveries. Dispatchers manage the following tasks:

Use mapping software to develop routes

To ensure that drivers deliver or pick up shipments on time, dispatchers use mapping software and logistics programs to plan routes. They consider customer schedules, road conditions and loading or unloading times as they develop the most efficient routes. Dispatchers typically share these routes with drivers electronically.

Serve as a liaison between drivers and customers

Dispatchers serve as intermediaries between drivers and customers, often relaying messages from one to the other. They often communicate customers’ delivery or pickup instructions to drivers and provide updates about drivers’ timelines to customers.

Monitor drivers’ locations

To do their jobs efficiently, dispatchers must know driver locations at all times. They rely on Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and computer programs to assess drivers’ whereabouts. They then use this information to plan routes, update customers or advise drivers about upcoming issues.

Resolve logistical problems quickly

Delivery drivers often encounter delays and other issues while completing their routes, which can lead to scheduling conflicts. Dispatchers help drivers address concerns such as construction, weather and heavy traffic. They use GPS and other applications to assess the severity and propose alternate routes or other solutions.

Develop a thorough understanding of the area

To create efficient routes and resolve unexpected issues quickly, dispatchers need an in-depth understanding of the area where their drivers and customers operate. They need to know major thoroughfares, height and weight restrictions and typical road conditions based on the time of day.

Build relationships with drivers and customers

To do their jobs well, dispatchers must build trust and develop relationships with drivers and customers. When dispatchers have strong relationships with their colleagues, drivers and customers can accept and manage delays and schedule changes more easily.

Average salary

Most dispatchers work full-time jobs, but part-time positions may also be available. The average salary for this position largely depends on experience, industry and location.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $14.84 per hour

  • Some salaries range from $7.25 to $28.00 per hour.

Dispatcher requirements

Dispatcher job descriptions typically require a high school education, training and several soft skills.

Education

Dispatchers generally need a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. With a high school education, dispatchers can gain the language, communication and reasoning skills they need to excel.

Certifications

Some dispatchers complete external certification programs. The most common options include:

American Logistics Academy

Aspiring dispatchers who want to learn independently can complete the academy’s Truck Dispatcher course. This online, self-paced course features coursework and videos designed to help dispatchers build a strong foundation for working in the field.

Industry-specific programs

Organizations like the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association offer dispatcher training forums for professionals who work in the industry. Besides providing general dispatcher training, these programs also address tasks and challenges unique to the industry. These classroom-style programs are generally taught in person and last for two to three days.

Training

Most dispatchers complete company-sponsored training programs before they begin their jobs. These programs allow new dispatchers to master the computer programs they will use regularly, learn how to develop efficient routes and learn the protocol for communicating with drivers and customers.

Besides basic training, many aspiring dispatchers gain work experience in the field. The following entry-level jobs are some of the most common:

Delivery driver

Professional drivers operate commercial trucks, load and unload goods and materials and coordinate deliveries with customers. They often accept and process payments and provide paperwork, too. Many delivery drivers work closely with dispatchers, who develop their routes.

Receptionist

These administrative professionals handle clerical tasks, including managing filing systems, greeting customers and answering phones. Receptionists also do basic data entry and organizational tasks for offices.

Skills

To excel as a dispatcher, you will likely need the following skills:

Attention to detail

Since dispatchers work on multiple routes and coordinate deliveries with several drivers on a typical day, they need the capacity to pay attention to details. They must be able to manage times, routes, drivers, customers and shipments.

Communication skills

Dispatchers communicate with drivers and customers constantly throughout the day. They must be able to speak, listen, read and write clearly and accurately.

Computer skills

To create and share routes, dispatchers need basic computer skills. Most use GPS, mapping and logistics software daily. Many also use basic word processing, spreadsheet, database and email applications.

Problem-solving skills

To assist drivers with unexpected delays and transportation issues, dispatchers need excellent problem-solving skills. They have to assess problems, consider options, weigh risks and recommend solutions.

Teamwork skills

Dispatchers are integral members of a team, and they must know how to work cooperatively with drivers, managers and customers. Whether they are creating routes, solving logistical problems or negotiating shipment schedules, everything they do has to support their team.

Dispatcher work environment

Dispatchers typically work in communication center or office settings, where they do their jobs at desks or in cubicles. They use computers throughout the day to develop and update routes and to monitor drivers’ locations. They also use phones to communicate with drivers and customers. Since dispatchers often work on multiple tasks at once, they may wear headsets to help maintain focus and keep their hands free to use computer equipment.

Since dispatchers must work when drivers and customers are operating, they may have a wide range of shifts. Some work standard nine-to-five schedules, but others may work in the evening, overnight or on weekends. Dispatchers may have to work overtime, especially during busy seasons or when drivers and customers experience shipment delays.

How to become a dispatcher

  1. Earn a high school diploma. First, complete your high school education or earn a GED certificate to gain foundational skills.

  2. Get work experience. Next, get entry-level experience in logistics. Many professionals in this field work as receptionists or drivers before becoming dispatchers.

  3. Create a resume. Once you have experience in the field, create a resume that highlights your qualifications to work as a dispatcher.

  4. Complete a training program. To learn the basics of working as a dispatcher, complete a professional training program. Many companies offer their own custom training programs, but some dispatchers also opt to complete programs from the American Logistics Academy or various industry organizations.

Dispatcher job description example

Miller Freight is seeking a competent and reliable dispatcher to coordinate routes for our team of delivery drivers. The successful candidate will use GPS, mapping and logistics software to develop efficient routes that meet the company’s delivery and pickup schedule. The candidate will also serve as a liaison between customers and drivers and will have the capacity to manage last-minute logistics issues and scheduling changes.

The ideal candidate will have at least two years of experience working in the logistics or delivery industry, preferably as a driver or an entry-level dispatcher. If you are an excellent problem solver and team player who wants to pursue a career as a dispatcher, we would like to discuss this position with you further.

Related careers

If you are interested in routing, organizing and optimizing, consider these related careers:

  • Fleet manager

  • Inventory manager

  • Logistics coordinator

  • Logistics specialist coordinator

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