What Does a Truck Dispatcher Do?

Good Dispatchers Are Essential to Shipping Companies

dispatcher with phone headset
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The trucking industry relies on safe drivers to complete deliveries. Often referred to as the backbone of American industry, truck drivers are typically thought of as the foundation of the system. However, they are not the only employees responsible for its success. Dispatchers play an essential role and are in high demand. 

What Does a Dispatcher Do?

The dispatcher's job is to schedule drivers to pick up and deliver loads to customers or vendors.

Dispatchers are also responsible for keeping records, monitoring driver daily logs for errors or violations and monitoring drivers' working hours and equipment availability.  Another part of the job is knowing the weather of all your drivers' locations in order to flag potential issues. There are numerous computer programs to aid dispatchers in their job, but much of the work requires good intuition and knowledge of the industry.

If you're thinking of becoming a dispatcher, you will usually need at least a high school diploma or GED. A degree in transportation or logistics is also helpful. You need to be proficient with technology and able to learn company-specific programs. You'll need to be fluent in English, both in speaking and writing, but knowing a second language can be very advantageous and make you a stronger candidate.  

What Is the Trucking Industry's Outlook?

In a report released in 2015, the American Trucking Associations projects that freight volume will increase by almost 30% by 2026.

They found that foreign trade has increased demand, with trucking still the primary method of transporting goods. Drivers and dispatchers will continue to be needed to meet the growing need. It looks to be a stable career path for at least the next ten years. 

What Makes a Good Dispatcher?

A strong dispatcher does much more than manage the phone.

You need to position yourself as a reliable point of contact that can successfully balance the drivers' health and safety with customer requirements. This can be a complicated and frustrating logistical process and requires a good deal of planning. 

An essential part of your job will be to coordinate and manage the most efficient loads to remain cost-effective as a company; this means you'll try to combine shipments based on their routes and timeline to minimize how many trucks and drivers are out, rather than sending each order out individually. You will need to determine the best delivery methods and negotiate rates directly with vendors and customers. If there any special needs, such as when shipping chemicals or livestock, it's your responsibility to identify these considerations and help drivers get the necessary documents they need. 

It's also important to realize you to be focused on the job from start to finish; there is rarely any downtime and you'll be taking calls and managing routes all day. For this reason, you must be highly organized and able to handle high amounts of stress.

How Much Do Dispatchers Make?

A dispatcher job is often a "stepping stone" job. A good dispatcher learns the ins and outs of the business and often will have the opportunity to move up within the company.

A career as a dispatcher can lead you to a management position later on. 

The average salary for a fleet dispatcher is $42,000, as of 2016. After you have spent time in that role and have moved up to be a supervisor or terminal manager, you can see that salary go up to an average of $63,000. 

A dispatcher is as essential to a trucking operation as any driver. Your goal, as a dispatcher, is to make your customer happy and keep your driver safe.

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