June 15, 2022
Share this article:
Truck dispatchers (or freight dispatchers) coordinate transportation between customers, suppliers, and drivers. They generally work with company drivers, but some also work with other motor carriers and even owner-operators to find available truck drivers to transport freight. Their day includes answering client calls, relaying information to truck drivers, scheduling pick-ups and deliveries, resolving billing issues, and using mapping software to schedule routes. They utilize specialized dispatch software, communicate with a variety of transportation industry professionals, and know a lot about trucking regulations and federal laws by the Department of Transportation.
Being a truck dispatcher requires a high-level of organization, focus, and attention to detail. Dispatchers can have days or weeks with back-to-back requests that require immediate attention. It can be a very rewarding job for people who thrive under pressure in a dynamic work environment and who enjoy challenging careers.
Sometimes the job of a truck dispatcher may be a stepping stone to a lucrative trucking career. You can learn the ins and outs of the transportation industry, and as you gain experience you may be able to work your way up to a leadership position. On the other hand, many former truckers transition to a career in truck dispatching to utilize their knowledge and skills gained from years on the road.
The American Trucking Association projects that the total revenue from freight shipments in the U.S. will increase from an estimated $1,083 billion in 2021 to $1,627 in 2032. This means that any jobs in the transportation industry, including a dispatcher job, will continue to be in high demand over the next decade.
If you’re looking to start a career in the trucking industry, a truck dispatcher job may be a good fit if you’re not interested in becoming a trucker or if you’re still in school to get your CDL. The average salary of a truck dispatcher is over $50,000 per year, according to Salary.com. Considering that you don’t need a Bachelor’s degree or even Associate’s degree to do the job, it can be a great opportunity for those with a high school diploma or GED.
There are several ways to get the training and education you need to be a great dispatcher. Several websites offer online truck dispatch training courses where you can learn about available truck dispatch software, communication skills, and supply chain management. While many trucking companies offer on-the-job training if you’re smart, motivated, and willing to put in the effort to learn the role and responsibilities, you might also consider getting at least your Associate’s Degree in transportation, logistics, or another field related to trucking.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with DOT and FMCSA regulations if you’re looking to break into the industry. You might also consider taking a role related to the one you want to set up your career path. For example, freight handler, warehouse staff, and even truck mechanic jobs can help you gain experience and learn about the different transportation jobs that are available, including truck dispatcher.
Like any office job, you’ll need computer prowess, some customer service, and the ability to empathize. But there are some other traits that will be invaluable to you as a truck dispatcher. Developing the skills below will benefit your career exponentially, and make your days at work a lot less hectic.
As a freight dispatcher, you will need to be able to stay organized and on top of your shipments. You’ll have a lot of paperwork to keep track of, and you’ll want to make sure you monitor your shipments and the local weather that the truck drivers are in to head off any delays or dangers.
Some days you’ll field dozens of inquiries regarding current, future, or past shipments. It’s important that you’re able to buckle down and take care of your clients’ needs without getting distracted by other tasks. Freight dispatching involves a lot of different tasks, and it’s easy to lose focus when you’re interrupted.
You’ll need to know a lot of information about your shipments and your drivers to effectively do your job. And you’ll be checking paperwork for errors or missing information, so attention to detail is critical. You don’t want regulatory issues or mis-deliveries because you overlooked a basic error.
A day in the life of a truck dispatcher can include a hundred different tasks with varying priorities. It’s important that you’re able to manage multiple tasks while meeting deadlines and keeping in contact with your shippers, drivers, and customers.
At times, routes change and can go in a different direction than you originally planned. Maintaining a level of flexibility and adaptability within the role will enable you to be effective without causing additional stress on your drivers or customers.
Superior communication skills are essential as a trucking dispatcher. You’ll spend a lot of time on the phone talking to drivers who may not talk to anyone but you all day. It’s important to be empathetic and compassionate even under stress. And you’ll be emailing and calling shippers and receivers about possible issues or for clarification on driver instructions. It’s important to have a professional and calm demeanor when communicating with any of your colleagues or coworkers.