What is a truck dispatcher?
Truck dispatchers are responsible for organizing the freight that trucks carry. They are a crucial part of the supply chain. Truck dispatchers keep everything running smoothly by coordinating the pickup and delivery of various loads between suppliers, drivers, and clients. Some dispatchers work for companies, and others are contractors and work independently.
Duties and responsibilities
Strong communication and organization skills are required because the dispatchers constantly get information to drivers and monitor schedules to ensure deliveries remain on time. Truck dispatchers document the freight orders, deal with any open billing issues, and track logbook hours. When problems arise during a route, the dispatcher is the one that will help reroute the truck.
Depending on the company’s size, some dispatchers also help load and unload cargo or oversee the loading process. There is also some negotiation on transport rates with suppliers and vendors. Truck dispatchers manage various tasks surrounding freight getting from point A to point B, including keeping the drivers healthy and staying organized at all times.
Many truck dispatchers work from a home office, which allows for some flexibility. Other dispatchers work at a centralized location for their company. Most of the day is spent on the phone and working on the computer, so it’s important to take breaks, stretch your legs, and move a bit. Having a good desk setup is crucial, so spending eight hours a day in the chair is comfortable.
Typical work hours
Truck dispatchers can have some long hours because they must be available whenever the drivers are on a route. For larger companies, they might have an on-call schedule, but if you’re managing your own group of carriers, you’ll need to be available if there are any issues. A driver could get ill or injured, requiring problem-solving to keep things on time.
If you work for yourself, you have more control over your schedule and available hours. You have to be available for the drivers you are working with, but you can also schedule routes during the days you want to be available.
How to become a truck dispatcher
In order to become a truck dispatcher, you will need a combination of education, training, and experience. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal:
Step 1: Finish high school education or equivalent
Becoming a truck dispatcher requires at least a high school diploma or a GED. It’s easy to jump right into this career after high school with some additional training, so it’s a great opportunity for people who do not want to go on to a four-year college or university.
Step 2: Consider an associate’s degree
While an associate’s degree is not a requirement for many companies hiring truck dispatchers, it is a beneficial add-on for those who want to add more to their resumes. Getting your degree in logistics or transportation would be helpful in your career. You’ll be equipped with more information ahead of time and feel more prepared to dive right in.
Step 3: Take a truck dispatch training course
Before you apply for a job, it’s good to go through a specific trucker dispatcher training course. These are a few options to consider that range from just a few hours to a few weeks. Adding these to your resume and successfully completing them will help you feel more prepared for your interview.
- Take the Trucker Dispatcher Training course from Udemy. There are video courses covering many of the basics for an entry-level position. Learn about the types of trucks, loading, and necessary procedures.
- Sign up for the Dispatchers and Load Planners Series from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA.) This covers safety information and regulations that can be important to know as a dispatcher.
Step 4: Gain experience
Truck dispatchers can benefit from some experience in the trucking industry before becoming a dispatcher. There are two main areas to gain experience. First, getting any job that works with trucks will give you some insight into this industry. Help with loading, shipping, or freight of some kind is a great way to meet some people and see the process in action.
Second, it’s good to have some experience in the regulations and rules of the transportation department. This is harder to get on the job, so make sure you have researched and understood the rules in your area.
Step 5: Apply for jobs
Once you’re ready to look for a job, search the job boards online. If you are already working at a company with truck dispatchers, it’s a good idea to let the managers know that you’re hoping to move into a role like that so they can keep an eye out for openings for you.
How much do truck dispatchers make?
There are many variables that go into determining how much a truck dispatcher makes, from company size to experience to education, just to name a few.
Highest paying states
- Nebraska – $61,500
- Alaska – $58,750
- District of Columbia – $58,040
- New York – 52,430
- North Dakota – 52,080
Types of truck dispatchers
The types of truck dispatchers revolve around the different types of trucks that they work with. Some dispatchers work with all types, whereas others might just specialize in one. The more experience you have, the more opportunities you’ll have to grow your business or move up the ranks at your company.
There are six main types of trucks that dispatchers work with. Dry vans are the common, basic, enclosed trailer that carries palletized goods. Box trucks, also known as cube trucks, are similar to dry vans, but the size and shape are different, so there are other things they can transport.
For larger freight and cargo, the options are flatbeds or step decks. Flatbed trucks are open on the back. They can carry wide loads. Step decks have a trailer that has two levels, so it can carry taller items without needing to get special permits.
Some companies need to transport goods that aren’t just wrapped on pallets, so there are trucks for those situations as well. Reefers are refrigerated trucks that control the cargo temperature and allow the proper venting and airflow to carry foods and perishable items. Tankers are special trucks that can transport liquids and gasses safely.
Top skills for truck dispatchers
Truck dispatchers need at least a high school education or a GED. Training programs are available for truck dispatchers to learn the specifics of the rules and regulations. In addition to education, a few skills are essential for this role. Strong communication, organization, and excellent problem-solving skills are used daily in this role. A basic understanding of mapping software comes in handy as well.
Truck dispatcher career path
Truck dispatchers have two main options to get started. They can work independently and build their network. With this option, it’s up to the dispatcher to grow as large as they want. There are opportunities to expand and add dispatchers down the line as well to work for you.
The other option is to start as a truck dispatcher with a company and gain some experience. After a few years, there may be opportunities to move up to management positions and oversee some of the dispatchers and the operations. Freight and logistics are growing fields, so will be plenty of chances to explore other paths and move up the ladder.
Position trends and outlook for truck dispatchers
Truck dispatchers will continue to be a growing need for companies because freight volume is not slowing down. Trucking is still the primary mode of transporting goods, so as foreign trade demands increase, there will be more and more volume. Being a truck dispatcher is a solid career path with plenty of room for growth and stability.
Employment projections for truck dispatchers
It is projected that the demand for truck dispatchers will increase by 10% through 2031. While automation has made it so that more responsibility can be handled by less employees there will always be a need for capable individuals to service a company’s logistics and transportation needs.
Truck dispatcher career tips
Soft skills and traits
Truck dispatchers should have strong communication skills. Much of the job requires talking to drivers and helping through problem solve different situations. You should be able to help calm frustrated people down and help them through challenges.
Negotiation skills are also essential for truck dispatchers. You’ll be negotiating freights between vendors and want to secure the best rates. Organizational skills will also be helpful for this role as you manage multiple calendars and schedules.
Commonly required skills and qualifications
- Learn the local, state, and federal laws around freight transportation, weight limits, and safety rules. Stay on top of this information if there are any changes.
- Get comfortable with mapping and scheduling software. Many programs offer free introduction courses on their websites, so start with those and get familiar.
- Understand load boards and how they work. It’s the online marketplace that connects shippers and carriers. Being able to do quick searches will help when in the role.
- Become proficient in a second language. Many truckers speak something other than English as their first language, so being able to have conversations in another language could make you more desirable.
Develop a professional network
One of the best ways to boost your name within the industry is to join professional networks and meet others in the same line of work as you. Virtual and in-person meetups can provide additional insight and tips, plus it’s a great social network that helps you grow your business. Check out one of these recommended options:
- Dispatcher Network LLC on Facebook
- Network Transport
- Ninja Dispatch
- LinkedIn Groups
Where the truck dispatcher jobs are
- Schneider National
- Covenant Transport
- Werner Enterprises
Top job sites
How do I start a truck dispatch?
Many truck dispatchers work independently, and starting your own business is not too complicated. Set up a home office and work to build up a network of drivers and brokers. You’ll need some basic business knowledge to work on your finances and promote your business.
Is it stressful to be a truck dispatcher?
Truck dispatching can be stressful because you need to stay organized, focused, and patient. There will be a high volume of requests, and you’ll need to be prepared to make quick decisions and change routes because you’re balancing timeliness with safety.
How many trucks can one dispatcher handle?
Companies can have fleets ranging from one truck to thousands. Dispatchers can work with anywhere from 10-30 drivers at any given time, but some will manage as many as 50. The size of the workload can vary based on needs.
Are truck dispatchers in high demand?
Freight demands continue to rise, so the need for truck dispatchers will continue to rise along with it. Starting a career as a truck dispatcher is a solid career option.
What are the requirements to become a truck dispatcher?
To become a truck dispatcher, you need a high school diploma (or GED) and an introductory training course to learn the basics. Basic knowledge of trucking safety regulations and strong communication skills are also necessary.
Where do truck dispatchers work?
The work of a truck dispatcher can be done anywhere, so many dispatchers work from a home office. You’ll need access to computers and phones to manage the business and take care of incoming requests.
Do truck dispatchers work alone?
Truck dispatchers can absolutely work independently and manage their own group of drivers. Large companies have multiple truck dispatchers, but most of the daily tasks are done independently and not as part of a team effort.
How do truck dispatchers find loads?
Dispatching load boards are essential for truck dispatchers to find new loads. These are online marketplaces for the exchange of goods and transportation. Having connections with freight brokers helps people to find the most valuable loads for their clients.
What is the difference between a freight broker and a truck dispatcher?
Truck dispatchers are unregulated, and freight brokers must have insurance and a license to operate. Both positions work to pair up drivers with goods to transport. Brokers bring together carriers and shippers. Dispatchers help deal with the cargo while it’s on the road, in addition to helping people fill their trucks.