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5 Steps to Become a Truck Dispatcher

A line of trucks on the road
Written by Amanda Nunez

America’s shipping industry is a well-oiled machine that must continue running smoothly for much of the country’s day-to-day operations. Truck drivers often handle various aspects of the industry’s ground shipping jobs, with dispatchers working to coordinate those deliveries. 

When you think of a dispatcher, a picture may pop into your head of someone on the other side of a car radio, telling drivers where to go and coordinating the movements of a fleet. This is probably due to television shows or other forms of media that highlight the dispatchers working at police departments and emergency services.

The truth about truck dispatching jobs is a lot more complicated than that, though. Truck dispatchers, or freight dispatchers, are responsible for so much more than telling drivers where to go—they’re the logistical experts that keep packages running along smoothly to their next destination, and truck dispatcher is a possible career path for you regardless of your current education or shipping industry experience levels. 

So, how can you begin your career as a truck dispatcher and kick off your journey into the shipping industry? Here are 5 steps to becoming a truck dispatcher.

How Much Can You Make as a Truck Dispatcher?

Salary for the role is dependent on a number of factors, including experience, position on a company’s organizational chart, and if you’re an employee of a larger organization or a smaller owner-operator who operates as an independent truck dispatcher. With all of these options considered, the average amount of money a truck dispatcher makes annually in the United States is between $45,000 and $55,000. 

How to Become a Truck Dispatcher

The path to becoming a successful trucking dispatcher mostly comes down to two different tracts. Working for a larger firm will mean more support and more refined job responsibilities, while a smaller organization may allow you to work closer with people in other roles and learn a lot about the trucking industry. 

Either way, being a truck dispatcher puts you close to the action—and may include some physically taxing job responsibilities at smaller companies—while it remains a desk job at its core. However, even if that desk job is desk-centric, the thrilling task of finding high-quality freight can be exciting and rewarding. 

Start with a solid foundation

A person in the role of truck dispatcher needs to be able to recognize and understand a lot of information quickly, as they’ll be vying against time—and possibly other truck dispatchers—to find high-quality freight for their company’s drivers. Good communication skills and customer service experience are a must, too, as you’re in the business of shipping packages that don’t move without the work of a lot of different people.

Lastly, computer skills is an essential trait that’ll allow you to interact quickly and efficiently with the main tool you’ll be using during work. Study and familiarize yourself with the basics of dispatcher software, often referred to as a load board. One of the most popular boards in the industry is called DAT Power, and video tutorials covering the program are easy to find on YouTube. 

Get truck dispatching qualified 

This skill set—and the ability to further your knowledge using the resources available to you—is picked up over the course of a high school career, so the education requirement for a truck dispatcher usually doesn’t go further than a high school diploma or GED. 

However, an associate’s degree in a field like logistics can help push your resume to the top of the pile. Community colleges are doing a great job of matching their scholarly offerings to community and industry needs. They’re also markedly cheaper than other higher education institutions. So start your search for a truck dispatching course there.

Create your resume

Now that you have a good grasp on the necessary qualifications, it is time to draft a resume and seek experiences in the field. A position at larger companies may come along with on-the-job training. The company may also help you find or pay for useful degrees or certificates. 

Experience is Key

While working through your first few positions, stay focused on refining necessary skills. For example, keep learning more about the things you’re unfamiliar with and have records so you remain organized and reliable. Being a truck dispatcher can be hard if you aren’t organized—there are a lot of people relying on you to guide them in the right direction!

You could even utilize your knowledge of existing technology to help streamline some of your company’s processes, too. For example, use map programs to create efficient routes that put your employer ahead of the competition or integrate calendar apps to keep track of who’s on the road and at what time they’ve initiated pickup, drop off, and other important moments in a job. Going the extra mile will show your commitment to success—and to learning as much as you possibly can.   

Create Your Own Route

After you’ve obtained a good amount of experience, you’ll be faced with a good problem: should you break out on your own and become a self-employed owner-operator, or should you stick with an organization and attempt to climb the ladder? 

The costs of starting a business aren’t cheap, but the initial investment for a truck dispatcher outfit runs lower than most. $1,000 to $3,000 will get your sole proprietorship off the ground, mostly because a knowledgeable dispatcher can do the job with basic equipment already inside their home. Add in the industry connections and goodwill that come along with the aforementioned experience, and you’ve got a recipe for a successful small business.

If you choose to remain with the employer that provided the environment for your freight dispatch crash course, you can benefit from spending your working hours in a no-risk, all-reward situation. Steady income is important to a lot of people, and this route ensures a paycheck you can plan around.

Start Driving with TJN

With the current growth in American consumption of goods, along with the recent spotlight news outlets have shined on the trucking industry and its importance to society, this is a great time to make the choice to set out on a career in truck dispatching.

Now that you know what tools you’ll need to succeed in the role, there’s one step left to the how to become a truck dispatcher tutorial: find a position where you can put all those skills to use and refine the ones you need to improve! Use TheJobNetwork to find your first opportunity as a truck dispatcher—or your next one. 

About the author

Amanda Nunez