How To Become A Truck Dispatcher
How To Become A Truck Dispatcher
Being a truck dispatcher means negotiating, booking loads, handling paperwork, arranging and coordinating the delivery of various cargo loads between two primary groups: brokers and carriers (truck drivers).
To be a successful truck dispatcher, one must communicate effectively, have strong organizational skills, and be able to problem-solve.
There are many benefits of becoming a truck dispatcher. Since it is a profession, one of the main questions interested parties have is how much you can reasonably expect to make. According to salary comparison site Comparably, the middle 57% of truck dispatchers make between $42,806 and $107,015. Salary research site Salary.com puts the median salary at $51,176, with the top 75% of earners earning at least $60,013.
Beyond the salary for truck dispatcher, it also offers the flexibility of being able to work from your home. In a world where more and more work is going remote, having the security of a job that can be done from the convenience of one’s home is an undeniably positive aspect.
Beyond the basic elements of the job and the salary lie many important details. We have put together this guide to becoming a truck dispatcher to help those interested with the following:
- The job duties and responsibilities of a truck dispatcher
- How much truck dispatchers make, along with their earning potential
- The steps to take to become a truck dispatcher
- The skills necessary to be a successful truck dispatcher
- Where to find the training to start your career as a truck dispatcher
What does a truck dispatcher do?
A truck dispatcher is a middleman between a broker and a truck driver. They manage many aspects of the logistics business on behalf of their client, the carrier (truck driver).
What are the actual responsibilities involved in the day-to-day of a truck dispatcher?
Some of the responsibilities Truck Dispatcher can include:
- Use load boards and personal connections to locate freight that matches drivers needs
- Coordinate with brokers about driver status updates and eta’s
- Relay pick-up and delivery information to truck drivers
- Map transport routes using specialized software
- Maintain communication with drivers during cargo transit
- Schedule cargo pick-up and delivery
- Monitor transport of cargo to ensure delivery timeliness
- Conduct negotiations
- Record and document freight orders
- Resolve billing issues, document transactions, review truck drivers’ logs
- Dispatch drivers
- Track drivers logbook hours
Truck Dispatching Or Freight Brokers: Which Is Which
Another helpful way to think about truck dispatching is to know what is not involved. Truck dispatchers are not freight brokers. These are two separate roles.
Freight brokers are legal entities that work between two parties: shippers and/or manufacturers that need their freight shipped, and carriers that move freight. While freight brokers are legally allowed to represent those two parties, they should not have a personal stake in either one.
This is where the difference between freight brokers and truck dispatchers is clear.
Truck dispatchers or dispatch services for owner-operators can have that direct affiliation with a carrier and in fact are working to support them. Even as a freelance truck dispatchers or independent workers, they are functioning as an employee of that carrier by conducting negotiations on their behalf and handling backlog.
What Is A Load Board For Truck Dispatchers
Before we go much further, it’s essential to understand what a load board is.
Often either digital matching systems or online marketplaces, load boards designed to help shippers and freight brokers find carriers for their loads while also helping carriers to find additional loads to keep their trucks full and maximize their earnings. The most familiar load boards used in the market are the DAT and TruckStop load boards. Some big brokers also have their own load boards Uber.
How Much Truck Dispatchers Earn Each Year
A truck dispatcher in the United States earns a median salary of $51,176, with the middle 57% earning between $42,806 and $107,015.
Like any profession, what truck dispatchers can earn in a year depends on variables including professional experience, hours worked, and their professional network. Certain agencies reward highly experienced truck dispatchers with higher salaries.
Likewise, a truck dispatcher who stays with the same truck dispatch company for a number of years can obtain a higher income, either through promotions or planned salary increases.
The location of the truck dispatcher influences the amount earned in a few ways. Certain cities and states have a higher volume of traffic, creating a more demanding job that is better compensated. If the truck dispatcher for semi-trucks is working remotely, they may choose to work in a state with different tax laws, allowing for a higher take-home pay.
The Steps To Becoming A Truck Dispatcher
It’s possible to start your career as a truck dispatcher from your own home.
Depending on your level of education, you may already have the necessary prerequisites. The next steps include building your qualifications, improving your profile, and applying for your first job as a truck dispatcher.
These five steps will help you feel confident as you get started on your new career.
It is highly recommended that a truck dispatcher have a high school diploma or GED (high school equivalency). There are also a number of truck dispatching courses available online. The most highly acclaimed and recommend course is TruckDispatcherTraining.com. They provide an intensive, 4-week online program that teaches you how to dispatch trucks without previous knowledge, how to start a dispatch company, and how to find carriers to dispatch.
Guided by experienced instructors, these courses will expose you to more of the daily responsibilities and techniques required for truck dispatching. Especially as you look to stand out amongst other candidates, they can provide a necessary edge.
2. Additional Education
Truck dispatching is a multidisciplinary profession that deals with logistics, transportation, and shipping. Associate’s degrees in one of these related fields will also help to give you an advantage over other applicants.
These degrees can be obtained in just two years at community colleges and technical schools, often with schedules that are convenient for students with other professional or personal commitments. Depending on your interest level, an associate’s degree can also position you as much as halfway toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree. However, this is not a requirement, and you can become a truck dispatcher without higher-level of education.
3. Start Gaining Experience As Truck Dispatcher
There are two types of experience a truck dispatcher needs to gain to build a strong career. The first is relevant industry experience, which can be earned through working in roles in trucking, freight hauling, shipping, and others.
You can do this by reaching out to truck dispatch companies and asking to shadow experienced dispatchers for free. You can also go through the Truck Dispatcher Training Course and learn everything you need through step-by-step training on how to make live calls using load boards. The other type of experience is about the rules and regulations governing the industry, which can be learned on the job or through research. Understanding local, state, and federal laws about freight transportation, driver & load safety, weight limits will allow you to effectively manage any scheduling and freight issues you come across.
4. Develop Your Skill Set
Being a truck dispatcher involves paying close attention to details and communicating regularly. To start, that means developing a way to keep records, document communications (phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.), and schedules organized.
From there, it’s establishing a periodic review of communication documents to see how to improve these processes. By improving telecommunication and written skills, the truck dispatcher becomes more valuable to their agency, helping to lead toward more jobs and a higher salary. Similarly, mastering the dispatching and telecommunications equipment likely to be used by a prospective agency will make the job application process that much simpler.
5. Getting Ready To Apply For A Job
One method to ensure you’re ready and competitive is to reach out for informational interviews. Here, one can ask questions about the work environment, schedule, and as mentioned in the previous bullet point, technology often used.
This type of interview not only leads to a warm connection that can make a candidate the first call when a job opening is posted, but it can give insight into what skills need to be developed to become the best possible candidate.
What Working As A Truck Dispatcher Is Like
Truck dispatchers can work in both central locations, like a company’s office, or remote locations, including their homes. As truck dispatchers are often handling multiple trucks and connecting clients with drivers, the workday is consistently busy.
In addition to communication between the dispatcher and the drivers and updates on shipping times, a dispatcher spends a significant amount of time negotiating transport rates between suppliers and vendors.
As another responsibility for truck dispatchers is finding cost-effective solutions for deliveries, time not spent negotiating is often spent using mapping and routing software to find the fastest and/or most cost-effective route for their drivers.
Because of the demanding nature of being a truck dispatcher, one can expect to be regularly seated or standing at a desk while using a computer and phone.
The Skills A Truck Dispatcher Must Have
Finding success as a truck dispatcher means developing and improving a combination of soft and hard skills, including proficiencies related to interpersonal communication, technical skills, and attention to detail, among others.
Here we’ll expand on a few key skills to demonstrate how they come into play during the day-to-day as a truck dispatcher and how they can be improved upon over time.
Though called people skills, these interpersonal skills include developing your ability to communicate, empathize, and work within a team. Given a good portion of each day is spent negotiating with suppliers and keeping in touch with truck drivers, being able to lead with positivity is critical.
There are many ways to improve these skills, including learning how to listen better, respect cultural differences, and sharing appreciation.
When not on the phone negotiating or providing updates, truck dispatchers are using their computers and cell phones to perform their jobs. This includes using mapping and scheduling software and applications to create efficient, cost-effective routes for drivers. Mastering the regular use of applications to help with organization and cost management, as well as maintaining records for pickups, deliveries, and in-transit cargo, is essential to job performance.
Improving technical skills and computer skills for truck dispatchers can include finding online courses for specific software or applications, speaking with experienced truck dispatchers about their techniques, and reading books on best practices.
Organization and detail
Given the quantity of information a truck dispatcher must organize every day, paying attention to detail is critical to their success. In addition to being able to take in information from multiple different sources about multiple different projects while staying organized, prioritizing those tasks is important. As an example, a supplier may be demanding an update on a price negotiation, but a truck driver in the middle of a delivery may need updated information on a route that could cut down hours from a delivery.
A regular review of one’s processes can lead to improvement. Spending an extra half-hour at the end of the day to understand what went well, what didn’t go well, and what could be improved for the next day will lead to a stronger ability to prioritize and make decisions in the moment.
Juggling multiple projects and multiple timeframes of varying urgency is simply a part of being a truck dispatcher. Therefore, being able to analyze, assess, and solve potential issues related to shipping and receiving freight is vital. That can include managing the schedules of numerous drivers, keeping track of cargo in-transit, rerouting those drivers and their cargo in case of accidents, weather, or other urgent situations, or finding a last-minute space for a shipment. Mastering these capacities will not only make the day-to-day flow of being a truck dispatcher for semi-trucks easier, it will make the job more satisfying.
While improving at problem-solving takes consistent work, the results can be impressive. Two mental techniques for this improvement include focusing on the solution, which helps to keep one’s mind open to possible paths to take, and clearly defining the problem, which helps to isolate what specifically is causing the issue.
Working For Yourself As A Truck Dispatcher Vs. Working For Truck Dispatch Company
In addition to everything that goes into becoming a truck dispatcher, including navigating load boards, negotiating contracts, and working with carriers, truck dispatchers also need to decide how they want to structure their employment.
The two most common types of truck dispatcher employment are as an employee for a truck dispatch company and as an independent contractor.
Working As A Truck Dispatcher For A Company
Finding opportunities to work as a truck dispatcher for an established truck dispatch service follows the same job application process as most other industries.
Popular job boards like Indeed or SimplyHired will post jobs for truck dispatchers. Check to see if there are any dispatch jobs in your local area or if there are any remote jobs that you could be eligible for. Another option is to go directly to the websites of the companies you’re familiar with and see if they are posting career opportunities there.
If there aren’t any entry-level positions currently being offered, it’s often worth the effort to send along a message or call into the office and inquire about any training opportunities or upcoming entry-level positions that can become available.
Being eligible for these jobs requires the equivalent of a high school diploma, as well as some customer service experience. While there are a number of processes to go through to finally land an interview as a truck dispatcher, many people find that working as an employee allows them to focus on just the job itself.
If you have a more entrepreneurial mindset and want to treat becoming a truck dispatcher as an opportunity to own your own business, then read on.
How To Become An Independent Truck Dispatcher
The steps to becoming an independent truck dispatcher involve the training and education to master the necessary duties alongside the marketing and management of your own company.
Though the barrier to entry may be a bit higher than becoming an employee, the rewards in terms of independence, control over your schedule, and financial compensation may justify it.
Whether you have some experience in truck dispatching and are ready to branch out on your own or you want to dive all the way into becoming an independent truck dispatcher for semi trucks, the following steps will help you understand more what it means to be an owner-operator truck dispatcher.
- Register The Business
If you’re going to have your own truck dispatcher business, it’s important to make it official by registering your business and naming it. A short, memorable name that includes “independent dispatch” or “dispatching services” makes it clear to your customers what you do. It’s also going to be important as you make a name for yourself online.
After you’ve named your business, apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS and set up your business’s structure. There are arguments for sole proprietorship, limited liability companies, corporations, and partnerships, but an LLC structure may work best in the early stages.
Contracts are also important, including service agreements, which include your charges and services, and dispatcher-carrier agreements, which explicitly states that the carrier’s insurance will cover you from liability. Having these contracts ready – or at least drafts of them – will get you working faster.
2. Setup Your Website
Since you are your own business, you’ll need to think about marketing. In addition to getting a website that includes your business name (and is ideally a .com), you may consider other social media accounts. Facebook and Instagram accounts can be helpful for establishing who you are, while also facilitating social media advertising. TikTok and Youtube allow you to build audiences, demonstrating your experience and knowledge, and hopefully generating contacts.
Still, your website is where each of these avenues should lead to, as it will contain all of the pertinent information for your business, including your services, rates, and essential contact information.
3. Subscribe to Load Boards
A fundamental part of truck dispatching is finding quality, relevant loads for your partners and carriers. While you may develop these connections through your marketing efforts, the industry standard is to get a subscription to a high-quality load board.
While free load boards exist, committing to a subscription to industry leading load boards like DAT Load Boards, 123LoadBoard, Direct Freight, TruckStop.com, or Trucker Path means you’ll stay up to date with the latest posts and opportunities. Given that these boards and the subscription access to them provide access to hundreds of thousands of new posts each day, you’ll have plenty to choose from.
4. Make Connections
As much as truck dispatching is about the logistics of freight and shipping, continued success is about relationships. Truck dispatchers work with carriers, shippers, and brokers on a regular basis. You can find these through a number of mediums, including:
- Directories – There are a number of online directories, like DAT Directory, which list contact information for partners.
- Advertising – This is where a truck dispatcher’s entrepreneurial side can create advantages. Using paid ads on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Google will let you target specific companies or people to get your new company in front of them.
- Existing Communities – Finding Facebook Groups or LInkedIn communities around the type of industry you are interested in can be a useful platform for independent truck dispatcher services. Reach out to the administrator to see if they’ll permit you to share about your new company. You may even be able to offer a discount on your services to make the offer more compelling.
- Your Audience – If you are participating on social media or regularly sharing content, it is also possible to regularly mention your services to generate leads.
Starting On Your Own As A Truck Dispatcher And Booking Loads
With your business setup and connections to carriers made, the moment has arrived to find them loads.
One way to do so is by posting and sharing the trucks you are working with so that the load board can find a match for you. Another is by performing a manual search, where you’ll input the pertinent data about the truck, special features, origin, and destination.
As you start to work with more and more carriers, know that saving searches will allow you to more efficiently input information. Similarly, you can set alerts which will notify you when a new load that matches your criteria is posted. That will save you time from sorting through the constantly updated pages.
Once that notification comes – or once you see the desired search result – the negotiation begins. Get in touch with the broker, find out the necessary details, and enjoy – you’re on your way to having a successful independent truck dispatcher business.
The Next Steps To Becoming A Truck Dispatcher
We hope this guide has been useful as you plan your development as a truck dispatcher. If you would like to take a Truck Dispatch Training Course to start your dispatching career, we highly recommend going through the 4-week training course at TruckDispatcherTraining.com
If you have any remaining questions about the career or about dispatch services for owner operators, we encourage you to get in touch with the expert team at Truck Dispatch 360.