The Airline Dispatchers Federation has approximately 2,200 members. Virtually all airplane dispatchers are employed by commercial airlines, both those that ship cargo and those that transport passengers.
Because of its relatively small size and the special skills required, this occupation is not easy to enter. The nature of the training is such that it is not easily put to use outside of this specific area. Few people leave this career once they are in it, so only a few positions other than those caused by death or retirement become available.
People who are able to break into the field are often promoted to assistant dispatchers' jobs from related fields. They may come from among the airline's dispatch clerks, meteorologists, radio operators, or retired pilots. Naturally, airlines prefer to hire people who have had a long experience in ground-flight operations work, so it is wise to start out in one of these related fields and eventually work into a position as airplane dispatcher.
According to the Airline Dispatchers Federation, new graduates from dispatch schools should not expect to be hired by major airlines such as American or United. A better choice would be to seek a position with a smaller carrier and get at least five years’ experience before attempting to apply for a position with a major airline.
The usual path of advancement is from dispatch clerk to assistant dispatcher to dispatcher and then, possibly, to chief flight dispatcher or flight dispatch manager or assistant manager. It is also possible to become a chief flight supervisor or superintendent of flight control.
The line of advancement varies depending on the airline, the size of the facility where the dispatcher is located, and the positions available. At smaller facilities, there may be only two or three different promotional levels available.
Tips for Entry
Follow the Airline Dispatchers Federation (ADF) on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to stay up to date on industry developments, network, and learn about job openings.
Attend the ADF Safety Symposium to learn more about the industry and network.
Conduct information interviews with airplane dispatchers and ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.
Apply for jobs in related aviation fields in order to gain experience in the industry.