What Does a Truck Dispatcher Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, and More

A day in the life of a truck dispatcher: Make sure truckers' logs are up to date, match truckers with cargo to be hauled, keep truckers up to date on road conditions, have a GED or high school degree

The Balance / Ellen Lindner

The trucking industry relies on safe drivers to complete deliveries, and they're typically thought of as the foundation of the system, but they're not the only employees responsible for its success. Dispatchers play an essential role as well, and they're in high demand. 

A dispatcher's job is to schedule drivers to pick up and deliver loads to customers or vendors, but that just scratches the surface. Learn more about what truck dispatchers do, their salary, the skills needed, and more.

Truck Dispatcher Duties and Responsibilities

Truck dispatchers have numerous other responsibilities as well. They can vary slightly from company to company.

Some of the responsibilities of truck dispatchers include:

  • Keeping records, monitoring drivers' daily logs for errors or violations, and monitoring their working hours and equipment availability
  • Keeping tabs on the weather at all drivers' locations to be able to flag potential issues, typically with the aid of numerous computer programs
  • Serving as a reliable point of contact to balance drivers' health and safety with customer requirements
  • Coordinating and managing the most efficient loads to remain cost-effective as a company, combining shipments based on their routes and timeline to minimize how many trucks and drivers are out
  • Determining the best delivery methods and negotiating rates directly with vendors and customers, and getting the necessary documents and permits that drivers will need when shipping chemicals or livestock

According to the 2020 Census, there are more than 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S.—an all-time high—with 711,000 employer and self-employed trucking businesses. With that many truckers on the road, truck dispatchers are essential in keeping the trucking industry running safely and smoothly.

Truck Dispatcher Salary

These figures cover dispatchers in general, but those who work in the trucking industry are paid above the median annual dispatcher rate at about $46,810 ($22.51/hour) annually.

  • Median Annual Income: $40,980 ($19.70/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Income: $67,680 ($33.54/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Income: $26,560 ($12.77/hour)

Education, Training, & Certification

Extensive education is not typically required, but some college background can help you land a job.

  • Education: You'll usually need at least a high-school diploma or GED to become a truck dispatcher, but an associate's or bachelor's degree is sometimes preferred. A degree in transportation, supply chain management, or logistics can be helpful.
  • Experience: One to three years' related experience, such as a customer service representative or courier, can sometimes work in lieu of trucking experience. Prior trucking experience is often preferred, such as knowledge of driving and Department of Transportation rules and regulations.
  • Internships: A freight internship can provide you with some real-world experience.

Important

This job often requires pre-employment drug testing, because the position is regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor. This testing can be ongoing and random.

Truck Dispatcher Skills and Competencies

A certain skill set can make the difference between success and failure.

  • Computer skills: You should be proficient with computer technology and able to learn company-specific programs and access GPS monitoring programs.
  • Analytical thinking: This can help you assess situations like unanticipated road closures. Should you reschedule or send the driver on an alternate route?
  • Language skills: You should be fluent in English, and knowing a second language as well can be very advantageous and make you a stronger candidate. 
  • Interpersonal skills: You'll be working with drivers, customers, and vendors, not all of whom will necessarily have the same goals in mind.
  • Industry knowledge: Knowing and understanding the transportation industry, as well as its laws and regulations, will set you up for success in this role.

Job Outlook

The American Trucking Association projects that freight volume will increase by 36% through 2031. Foreign trade has increased demand, with trucking still the primary method of transporting goods. Drivers and dispatchers will continue to be needed to meet the growing need. It looks to be a stable career path for at least the next 10 years. 

The role of a dispatcher may sometimes be a "stepping stone" job. A good dispatcher learns the ins and outs of the business and will then often have an opportunity to move up within the company, perhaps to a management position.

Work Environment

There's rarely any downtime with this job. You'll be taking calls and managing routes all day, so you must be highly organized and able to handle high amounts of stress. While some truck dispatchers may work in an office, others may have the option of working from home.

Work Schedule

This is normally a full-time position, but dispatchers may be on call 24/7, available to step in should a driver become ill or is injured or if some other unforeseen event should occur.

Drivers aren't on their routes only during business hours. That means the job isn't always confined to Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

How to Get the Job

APPLY

While there aren't specific job boards for truck dispatchers, you can find postings on job sites such as ZipRecruiter and Indeed.

REHEARSE COMMONLY ASKED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Learn more about frequently asked interview questions here.

WRITE A TARGETED RESUME

Learn more about tips for writing and formatting your resume here.

Comparing Similar Jobs

Dispatch jobs aren't confined to the trucking industry, and this skill set can serve in other fields as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Become a Work-From-Home Truck Dispatcher?

If you want to work from home in this career, you'll likely need to find a company that employs remote workers, or you may need to work in an office setting for a certain period of time before you're able to work remotely for the same company. If you work remotely, it's important to have all of the necessary equipment in your home office in order to be successful.

How Do You Become a Truck Dispatcher in California?

There aren't any specific additional requirements needed in order to become a truck dispatcher in California.

Do You Need a License to Become a Truck Dispatcher?

While you don't need a specific license to become a truck dispatcher, a driver's license could be helpful, though it is not required. A strong knowledge of traffic laws and the road will likely be useful in this career.

Article Sources

  1. Census Bureau. "America Keeps on Truckin." Accessed Aug. 17, 2021.

  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020." Accessed Aug. 17, 2021.

  3. American Trucking Associations. "Freight Volumes Expected to Grow 36% Between 2020 and 2031." Accessed Aug. 17, 2021.

  4. ZipRecruiter. "What Is a Work From Home Truck Dispatcher and How to Become One." Accessed Aug. 17, 2021.

  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers." Accessed Aug. 17, 2021.

  6. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Air Traffic Controller." Accessed Aug 17, 2021.

  7. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Customer Service Representative." Accessed Aug. 17, 2021.