The trucking industry relies on safe drivers to complete deliveries. Many may believe that truck drivers are the glue of the system. Well, it is definitely true that without drivers, deliveries would never happen. However, without dispatchers, drivers would be at a loss to do their job as well as they do.
The dispatcher's job is to schedule drivers to pickup or deliver loads to customers or vendors. Dispatchers are also responsible for keeping records, monitoring driver daily logs for errors or violations, and the monitoring of both drivers in relation to their remaining hours of service and equipment as to its availability. Another part of the job is knowing the weather of all your drivers locations. There are numerous computer programs to aid dispatchers in their job. Another part of the job is based on intuition and complete knowledge of their industry.
A dispatcher will usually need at least a high school diploma or GED. Possessing a degree in transportation or logistics is also helpful. A dispatcher has to be willing to learn company specific computer programs. They must be able to read and write English and it may be useful to be bilingual in such languages as Spanish, South Slavic and/or West Slavic. There are other languages useful as well. The above list is by no means exhaustive.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) predicts a job decline of three percent from 2008 to 2018. However, the industry is in an upswing right now. There is renewed growth for safe drivers with clean SMS scores. Nevertheless, truck drivers are not the only need right now. Being a good dispatcher is quite different from being just a dispatcher. I believe there will continue to be a legitimate need for good dispatchers.
How do I classify a good dispatcher? It is more than someone who just answers the telephone. A driver needs a point of contact that he or she can rely on. They need someone who is invested in keeping the driver legal while on the road and at the same time keeping the customer happy. That is a fine balance.
Part of the dispatcher's job is to coordinate and manage the most efficient loads to remain cost effective as a company. The dispatcher will need to determine the best delivery methods and negotiate rates. The dispatcher also needs to identify and evaluate any special needs for each load.
Dispatchers also realize that they have to be "on" from punch in to punch out. In my time as a dispatcher I vividly recall how there is rarely any down-time. For this reason, a dispatcher must also be highly organized and able to handle high amounts of stress.
A dispatcher job is often a "stepping stone" job. What I mean by that is that dispatchers often have the opportunity to move up within their company. A dispatcher can move up to be a supervisor or manager.
The BLS stated the median annual wage as $33,850 as of May 2008. According to Salary.com, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as of February 2012, the median annual wage is $35,352.
A dispatcher is as essential to a trucking operation as any driver. Your goal, as a dispatcher, is make your customer happy and keep your driver safe.