What Does a Truck Dispatcher Do? (Plus Skills and Education)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 30, 2022 | Published April 26, 2021

Updated March 30, 2022

Published April 26, 2021

A truck dispatcher creates and optimizes delivery and transportation routes for professional truck drivers. They help ensure that goods and products are delivered on time and to the right destination. If you are interested in pursuing this role, it's important to understand what it entails. In this article, we answer a variety of questions to help you learn what truck dispatchers do and how you can become one.

Related: 10 Careers in Transportation To Explore

What is a truck dispatcher?

Truck dispatchers are the link between vendors and drivers, ensuring that the process of picking up and delivering packages is seamless. These professionals receive calls for truck services and arrange for timely pickups and deliveries. They also rely on various software to bill operations, track containers and complete other everyday activities.

Related: Learn About Being a Dispatcher

What does a truck dispatcher do?

A truck dispatcher's primary role is to manage and schedule freight transportation, coordinating with drivers, vendors and suppliers. It is a customizable job, meaning it could vary slightly depending on your particular industry or the company you work for. However, there are some general duties and responsibilities that you can expect as a truck dispatcher:

Maintain records

A truck dispatcher has to keep all dispatch and trip records, preferably in a digital format. These records need to summarize shipments, drivers, working hours and schedule details. With efficient record-keeping practices, it's easier to manage resources and adhere to various safety regulations.

Receive calls

Exemplary communication skills are necessary when handling truck dispatch duties. A truck dispatcher has to receive all calls, whether emergency or non-emergency, from vendors and drivers. They are also responsible for recording all of the calls.

Find potential clients and negotiate rates

Truck dispatchers need to reach out to potential clients from time to time to improve the company's clientele base and increase revenue. During this process, they negotiate rates with the clients, ensuring that both parties leave satisfied. These rates could vary based on the type of product shipped and the distance traveled.

Proactively address issues

Truck dispatchers need to take charge and handle every arising situation. Addressing potential problems before they occur helps minimize various costs, including repair, maintenance and health expenses. For instance, they have to ensure that the driver is in their best health before working. Besides that, they must assess every situation and know what to prioritize.

Provide reports to management

Truck dispatchers need to inform upper management about the progress in their department. Providing these reports on time ensures that the company has a clearer outlook on the market and can make logical decisions regarding shipments.

Plan ahead

Truck dispatchers need to schedule the most efficient driving routes. This process entails studying the weather conditions and providing suitable alternative roads for drivers when necessary. Proper planning ensures that management can provide better support and crisis management to the drivers.

Relay information between clients and drivers

Truck dispatchers must be in constant communication with clients and drivers to ensure that the transportation process is seamless and that each delivery schedule is met. Excellent communication also helps dispatchers maintain strong relationships with the customers and drivers.

What tools do truck dispatchers use?

Truck dispatchers rely on various tools and software to track, view and manage dispatch activities, including:

  • Truck routing and scheduling software: This software helps truck dispatchers create and schedule new trips for their drivers. It provides a map view that gives dispatchers the flexibility they need to modify trips and add stops in real time in order to avoid wasting time and resources.

  • Fleet management: This software helps streamline the tasks associated with fleet management. It ensures that the truck dispatcher provides better driver management, incident tracking and route optimization. It also keeps records of every communication transmitted within the trips.

  • Truck locator: This software helps dispatchers find the closest driver, minimizing time wastage. This tool also makes it easy to search for a driver by typing in an address, searching within a custom-drawn polygon or searching for a specific landmark.

  • Trip locator: GPS tracking software can help dispatchers identify all of the trips in progress. This software ensures that the truck dispatcher makes more informed and efficient decisions, and it helps them decide which driver to send to a specific location at a certain time.

  • Share directions tool: This tool ensures that truck dispatchers can add and communicate the directions to a new stop. It helps the driver maximize their time and get to all necessary destinations.

What are the skills of an excellent truck dispatcher?

Truck dispatchers need to have various soft and hard skills to excel in this fast-paced environment. Here are some of the most essential skills for truck dispatchers:

  • Time-management skills: Punctuality and proper time management enhance productivity within a trucking company. A truck dispatcher with excellent time-management skills often helps clients get their products on time, improving relationships and brand image. They must also understand how to schedule trips in a way that minimizes time wastage.

  • Communication and interpersonal skills: A good truck dispatcher must learn to speak concisely, clearly and audibly to their drivers and customers. This communication has to be honest and showcase emotional control, which helps maintain the company's integrity. The truck dispatcher must also be ready to collaborate with other individuals in the logistics chain.

  • Technical expertise: Truck dispatchers use various equipment and technologies when working, including GPS and truck dispatch software. A good truck dispatcher must understand how to use and manipulate these technologies effectively in order to maintain better records and ensure that the entire transportation process is flawless.

  • Analytical skills: This skill allows truck dispatchers to collect and deconstruct information before they make logical conclusions. They need to demonstrate creativity and critical thinking skills when analyzing any situation.

  • Adaptability: A good truck dispatcher should comfortably adapt to different situations in order to thrive in a fast-paced environment and excel under pressure. Being adaptable often ensures that the dispatcher understands how to respond to different situations.

Related: Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples

What education do you need to become a truck dispatcher?

A high school diploma or GED is enough to get a job as a truck dispatcher. Classes in math, English and business provide students with the communication, organization and accounting skills needed to handle truck dispatcher duties. However, you can consider the following tips to improve your chances of getting hired:

Get an associate degree

An associate degree equips you with enough skills to handle logistics and supply chain management. This degree helps improve your chances of getting hired as a truck dispatcher. Usually, it would be best to consider an associate degree in supply management, logistics or transportation.

Pursue an internship

Internships provide prospective truck dispatchers with hands-on experience to hone their skills. These internship programs allow the candidate to undertake relevant dispatch duties under supervision. Once you gain enough skills and experience in your internship, you can apply for jobs in the field.

Consider external certifications

External certifications can help you build professional credibility and expand your knowledge. Prospective truck dispatchers can take a certification course with schools like the American Logistics Academy, which equips them with strong foundational skills.

When do truck dispatchers work?

This job is a full-time position, and truck dispatchers are often on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They should be ready to step in to provide solutions when necessary, including when drivers fall ill or get injured. Additionally, since most drivers are on their routes beyond regular working hours, truck dispatchers may need to work late into the night.

Do you need certification to be a truck dispatcher?

This job requires no licensure or certification. Instead, most employers would prefer a candidate with one to three years of experience. Though employers may look for candidates with trucking experience in particular, you can also gain relevant experience as a courier or in customer service.

If you want to work as a freelance or independent truck dispatcher, you need to comply with the various legal provisions when setting up a home office. For example, you may need to apply for an Employer Identification Number and choose your business structure, such as an LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation.

Related: How To Become a Truck Dispatcher

What does a truck dispatcher earn?

The national average salary for truck dispatchers is $54,543 per year in the United States. However, this amount may vary depending on your specific location and level of experience, as well as the organization you work for and the type of freight you're monitoring. Additionally, if you have an associate degree, you may be able to earn a higher salary than if you only have a high school diploma.

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