Final Update:

I appreciate all of the interest and questions, it was fun to share what I do with you. If you have any questions that were not answered here, feel free to DM me about it. If you stumble across this post in the future and have new questions you can still DM me.

If this career path truly interests you I would recommend reading everything in this thread and doing your own research so you know exactly what you are getting into.

If anyone ends up getting their license or getting on with a regional let me know!


I was inspired by the recent ATC post and the most recent AMA I can find about my career is over 3y old. I figured maybe some folks would be interested in what we do and how to get into this field.

Proof: https://imgur.com/a/7wvD8D8

We work behind the scenes with pilots and ATC to plan and monitor all flights.  You need a license and the base salary for mainline airlines starts at ~$70k with top outs at ~$170k.  All dispatchers are union so that has ups and downs but the benefits in my job are top notch.  Free standby flying for you and your family(mom, dad, spouse, and kids(until 20 something), you can fly cockpit, schedule flexibility is awesome, low stress job 95% of the time.


 - at least 23 years old (you can get your license earlier but 23 is required to begin work and it’s never too late to start!)

 - high school graduate (or equivalent)

 - ability to communicate well in English (requirement across all aviation careers)

 - FAA Flight Dispatcher License (happy to elaborate on this if you want)

 - be willing to relocate to a city where an airlines headquarters is located (not necessarily because commuting is an option in most places as well!)

This is a very interesting and rewarding career and I really enjoy what I do so I would love to answer your questions! If you are really interested I am happy to offer more info in comments or DMs.




1 - I can’t answer any questions about ATC because I am not an ATC. Please stop asking me about ATC; there is another thread with a guy who would love to tell you all about that lol.

2 - Banjoface gave his take on the dispatch industry and I appreciate the participation, but I don’t think that the information provided is representative of the modern aircraft dispatching climate. Things are very different than they used to be. I would ask that you read all the information provided and if you have further questions I am more than happy to offer first hand experience from myself and my coworkers on the dispatch experience from the bottom up! I know folks from ages 25 to 60 who have come from all backgrounds and they would all tell you exactly what I am telling you in this thread.

3 - A lot of you are questioning the legitimacy of this opportunity because it sounds too good to be true. The end career as a mainline dispatcher is everything that I have said that it is. It is a fantastic gem of a job that no one knows exists. But I wanted to take a second to highlight some negatives and the things that make this great thing seem a bit more realistic. Firstly as an airline job it is seniority based and when you are at the bottom you work midnights, weekends, and holidays. It takes time to get seniority at a major. But that is just with the mainline job before that you have school, regionals, and applying to get here. School is hard and although it is short it can be quite difficult to get through. A solid 1/3 of my class failed out (i did go to the hardest school by reputation though other schools can be more forgiving). It costs a pretty penny to get this license and all it buys you is the opportunity to get on at a regional. That part should not be hard but regionals work you pretty hard and it is not the greatest quality of life. It is not terrible but I would not want to make a career of it. Stick it out through the crap job for a couple years and go for the mainline. This is the big hurdle. It is very competitive. The interview process is daunting and getting rejected after an exam and 2 interviews can be pretty brutal after months of anticipation and wondering. I know multiple people that took 8 tries to get through. I also know many that got in on their first attempt. If you can throw down some cash, buckle down for class, cope with the crap regional gig, and kill it at the interview then you can achieve this career. It is not cake but it is doable and so worth it. Everything I have posted in this thread is true and can be backed up by my coworkers. So it isn’t all pretty but it is worth the effort put in. There are many people in this industry going for the mainline jobs. The reason it isn’t insanely crowded is because no one even knows that this job exists (proven by the countless questions about ATC in a thread that clearly states that is not what I do lol).

Comments: 973 • Responses: 101  • Date: 

banjoface90041085 karma

I too am a licensed aircraft dispatcher. I have a degree in Aviation Management, and 10+ years of experience in Airline Ops, fuel logistics, and flight planning.

This post is quite inaccurate from my viewpoint, and sounds like it is written by a recruiter. The work is very stressful, the hours are often long and abnormal. The pay is AWFUL - but this is a common trend in aviation. If you are seriously considering this line of work, research into job postings on Linkedin or Indeed. This is very much a <$50,000 / year career for the first 10 years. You'd be lucky to break $100,000 at any point in your career. The best move I ever made was to leave dispatching, but I will also admit that experienced gained has been invaluable for other positions. My Dispatch License is worth its weight in gold, but the career path is not a good one.

The course to get your license is no joke. Not impossible, obviously, but it was much harder than anything I did in college. $6-9k is a realistic cost estimate. I completed the course through Jeppesen's online course. The people who came from outside the industry struggled greatly, and we had 6 dropouts from our 18 person course. Of the remaining 12, 3 had to retake their FAA exam. The exam consists of a written test which is basically memorizing 2,000 questions of mostly useless trivia. The real PITA was the Oral and Practical exam. This is 1 on 1 with an FAA examiner, and it was an absolutely brutal 6 hours of my life. Not impossible, but I do agree with the notion that this course isn't something you're going to easily do in your free time.

You only get somewhere with a lot of seniority, and it is very slow to accrue. This industry tends to attract "lifers" who are in it for the love of the industry. The work is absolutely fascinating - I love flight planning, logistics, and working through emergencies. That being said, it is a math dominant line of work. Time math, fuel burns, weight calculations; I estimate 80% math. In my opinion, you have to be quite smart to succeed. Moving up almost, almost always = moving to a new city. I've moved 4 times already for my aviation career, and highly anticipate another one before the end of next year. You have to move. You won't get paid to move.

As it is recognized in Aviation as a headache of a career path, many regional airlines are continuously hiring Aircraft Dispatchers. A dispatch job at, let's say Frontier Airlines, would require a move to Denver, dedicated night work until your seniority allowed better placement on the schedule (my guess, 2 years), $16-18/hour, poor benefits, standby flight perks, and a 180 day probationary period. You'll probably clear $50k annually, but that'll be due to forced overtime. Speaking of forced OT - as you will learn while obtaining your license, someone legally has to watch the flight. Your major job responsibility is preparing a dispatch release, and legally signing your name to it. Next shift doesn't show up on time and your name is on the paperwork? You could be there awhile, or face actual civil penalties for leaving.

The career path sucks. DM me for more questions. The license is WONDERFUL to have if you're not a pilot and motivated for a career in Aviation.

CaptRenault_64106 karma

I respectfully disagree with this post. I am a disapatcher at a major airline not a recruiter lol. The schooling is not easy I agree with that. It is no joke but it is doable if you really apply yourself for that 5 weeks. I did my time at a regional and the job that you are describing is that of a regional dispatcher which is not a sexy gig I agree. Regional work is tough and not particularly rewarding but you learn a lot and can apply for mainline after a year. It can take a few years to get on but when you do the pay and the job is just as cushy as I have described here. I could post my union contract to prove it but I don’t really want to give out any personal information. On our CBA you can see that we can pull 100k after 5 no problem. The monthly gross pay is $7,725 with training overrides and a little OT 100k is typical here.

This posts make my job sound like a death sentence but it is anything but. Sounds to me like this person may have worked at some crappy airlines or somewhere where management was garbage. I have never experienced anything like what is being described nor have any of my coworkers who have all come from various regionals across the country. If anything in this post is exceptionally terrifying feel free to ask for specifics and I can explain how my experience has differed from this person and perhaps some of my coworkers experiences as well! This thread is informational and as factual as I can make it. If I am fluffing anything up it is perhaps understating how competitive it is getting into a major but I don’t feel like that is grossly understated just a little undersold.

davidbklyn262 karma

This sounds very interesting to me. What are some things that might disqualify a person, if not formally then in terms of characteristic inabilities? For instance, I'm 46 years old, would I be considered too old to take the course and get hired?

CaptRenault_64324 karma

Not at all! I had 2 people that started at the same time as myself that were in their mid 50s. Never too late to get in as there is no required retirement age. It is a desk job so you will have to be able to manage being at a desk for 8-10 hours. We have a guy that is partially blind and he uses software to be able to see the computers. If you can handle phone/ radio calls and use a computer you can do this job. There can be stressful busy days/ times but mostly it is a pretty chill job so as long as you don't lose your head when things get hectic you can do this job!

davidbklyn77 karma

Thanks so much, that's encouraging! I'm going to look into a licensing course then. I'm based in NYC.

smwass81 karma

Watch out for scams. I got hit for over $300 from a test prep course which guaranteed that completing their materials would result in a passing score on the ATC initial test. Missed passing by 2 points and never got back any $.

CaptRenault_64106 karma

A full class will run you a few grand at least. If it is less than that watch out.

roastbrief36 karma

I’m also in my mid-40s, and pretty burnt out with my work. This job sounds interesting, but 70K would be a significant pay cut for me. How slow is advancement? If I couldn’t replace my current income until I was 70, there would be no point in looking into this.

CaptRenault_6440 karma

Well, regionals make peanuts forever but at a major you would top out in 10-12 years. Start at 70k then at over 100k in 5ish years or so.

Dillbob211212 karma

Have you heard of any struggles in this position from people that have ADHD or similar issues?

CaptRenault_6410 karma

There can be a lot to think about but if you come up with a good flow and keep your thoughts organized in another way I am sure you could manage. I have not heard of it being a major issue in my field so I doubt it would be an issue but I am not certain TBH.

Masn1999184 karma

What's a typical day like? What are your responsibilities?

CaptRenault_64576 karma

So one thing I love is that I have no responsibilities outside of my work hours. Before I come in and after I leave my work does not contact me nor is anything required of me. When I walk in I take over a desk that has some flights in the air and others planned up and getting ready to roll. My turnover (the previous dispatcher) gives me a breakdown of everything going on with the flights on this desk, the weather in the area we are flying, and anything out of the ordinary. I take control of the desk and throughout the day I will be monitoring flights that are in progress and making plans for the upcoming flights. During planning I focus on routes, weather, fuel, payload, ATC restrictions, maintenance issues, and anything else that could require me to have to alter the plan to keep things legal and safe FAA Regulations. Might sound boring but it is a bit like a puzzle with a handful of little problems that you solve in order to get flights where they need to go efficiently. At the end of my shift I give the next dispatcher a turnover and he takes control.

The pilot shows up a bit before push time and looks over my plan to decide if he/she will accept it or not. If he/she doesn't agree with something or wants to change something they call me and we work out a plan that we both like. They can't leave unless we both agree that the plan is legal and safe. Most of the time I don't hear anything but occasionally they make requests or want to understand why we planned things a certain way.

Most days I roll in and chill while flights fly across the country with no need for my services beyond having created the plan by which they fly. Other days the weather is causing problems and I am handling constant calls from diverting flights and delayed flights trying to figure out what the game plan for continuing is. Every day is different and while things are mostly quiet it is rewarding when you manage a crisis and keep the operation moving.

There is a lot; hopefully that covers enough. If you have anything you want me to expand on let me know!

JConRed109 karma

Sounds like a really cool career with variation in y most days, but just enough routine to keep it chill :)

CaptRenault_6463 karma

That is a good way of putting it! I could not recommend it enough!

Raise-Emotional20 karma

Is this predominantly a desk job? Or are you having to run around and organize?

CaptRenault_6428 karma

Desk job!

Aphelious20 karma

Is an aircraft dispatcher the same as an air traffic controller? That’s what I’ve heard it called in the past. Are there any barriers to entry? Such as skilled trade unions like the ironworkers or steamfitters, etc. are great jobs, prevailing wage type compensation, but you can’t get in unless you know someone. I’ve even heard of positions in those unions being basically handed down from generation to generation without really allowing new people in.

CaptRenault_6419 karma

No we sometimes contact ATC but my job is much much different. Getting the license is difficult and getting on at a major is very difficult but beyond that there is nothing barring anyone from getting in. It is just competitive.

P-kNight-W12 karma

Do you have any recommendations on which programs best prepare applicants for these roles?

CaptRenault_6420 karma

Any Course that gets you your dispatch license.

Karma_collection_bin5 karma

Do you ever have time to get up and stretch? How long are your shifts?

CaptRenault_6421 karma

8 hour shifts and I have plenty of free time to stretch, walk, get coffee, heat up lunch, go to the restroom, socialize whatever. Nothing keeping me glued to my desk but if you are away too long your coworkers may resent you having them handle your calls or whatever comes up (usually nothing though).

ariliquin-18 karma

The hard thing is predicting if this is the sort of role that can be automated through AI in the future and when this will happen. Sounds like it can, maybe the safety factor means a role is retained. Even now Pilots can not take full control of plan when things start failing with the thinking being the computer will do a better job, unfortunately many people have died as the failures are of sensors that would not affect flight safety only affected computer calculations leading to death by design.

CaptRenault_6433 karma

I respectfully disagree with a lot of what you are saying. This could be a thread of its own with how much there is to talk about. A lot of my job can be automated but the computer has problems making predictions based on weather and dispatchers save companies money which is the main reason we will continue to be employed. We are a point of contact and a resource for pilots in the air. A level head on the ground to manage the operation.

averageveryaverage20 karma

I just read an article recently about why people hate automated call centers so much and the gist of it was, most of what humans want when they need help is to just hear another human. Can't wait for pilots in bad weather or who've lost an engine being told "Please listen closely as our menu options have changed. Press 1 if this is a gear issue. Press 2 if this is an engine issue. Press 3 if this is a weather issue. Press 4 if you would like to hear these options again."

CaptRenault_6413 karma

Pilots have a lot of the same tools that we do but they like to call just to hear another human's take on the situation they are flying into. Two heads is better than one kinda thing.

IoSonCalaf174 karma

Can you tell us more about the license?

CaptRenault_64303 karma

There are 2 difficult parts in getting into this field and the license is one of them. There are many schools across the US that offer Aircraft Dispatch Certification courses; a quick google search will help you find one near you or you can travel and Airbnb during. I can make a personal recommendation over DM, but wherever you go they can be a bit costly. It is $5,000-$8,000 for the full course that lasts around ~5 weeks. There are shorter classes that are partly online that can be cheaper but they are a little more intense and require good self discipline. After the course you are ready to work (unless you are under 23).

IoSonCalaf81 karma

Thank you. Is the course and exam difficult?

And what is the other hard part of getting into this field?

CaptRenault_64217 karma

You want to be fully invested in the course (no job, no responsibilities) because it requires your full attention for 5 weeks. There are a handful of exams and they can be quite difficult but the schools want you to succeed so they have many resources aimed at helping you pass.

The other major hurdle is getting hired at a mainline airline (American, United, Delta, Southwest, etc.) where the pay and benefits are incredible. You can fairly easily get hired at a regional airline (Frontier, Skywest, Republic, etc.) where after a year of experience you can start applying to move up to a mainline. This is very competitive, but being a regional employee, while a bit rough around the edges, is great experience. The pay at a regional isn't amazing (~$15/hour) but you still have flight benefits and it's only temporary for most.

HugsHeal114 karma

Just curious… how fast does the pay ramp up at regionals?

I got the license on a whim years ago, but hated the course, and there was no way I was going to work at a regional for just $15/hr.

floodo1102 karma

No joke, I drove by a Taco Bell today with a sign hiring for 16$ an hour

MyOtherSide198436 karma

$15 is the minimum for fast food in my state despite minimum wage being $7.xx. And that's not a manager spot. This job sounds acceptable, but not incredible. Lots of big numbers, but lots of shit to sift through first.

CaptRenault_6446 karma

You pay your dues up front in the first few years of low pay so it tends to be more possible for younger people with no kids and big bills yet. People are trying so hard to shoot holes in this job because it sounds great but I’m spelling out the downsides as best as I can. It’s a rocky few years to go from zero to 70k starting.

CaptRenault_6488 karma

Well a regional will max out at $70k-ish in 15 years. Not what I was interested in either but it was a stepping stone to my goal. It is worth it to deal with the low pay for a few years in order to get on with a major. Even with the low pay you can use your flight benefits to go cool places on a budget! You can also get a job at a major that is not dispatching and after a couple years move over internally. There are pros and cons to this as well. Just gotta stick it out either way really.

BeyondKaramazov25 karma

How long would you expect the stint at a regional to be, like 1 year?

CaptRenault_6468 karma

That can depend on a few things. After 1 year you can begin applying to majors and they usually hire 2ish times a year. You need to be on top of things and know when they plan on opening the positions because you need to be one of the first ones in there (they often only look at the first X number of external applicants). If you make it in early you take a dispatch exam based on stuff you learned in school and at your regional. If you pass there is often a phone interview and then an in-person interview. It is a daunting process but with a well crafted resume, good interview practice, and honed dispatching skills/ knowledge you can get in after just a year of regional employment. I have seen many people do it in a year but most will accomplish it in 2-3 years without issue.

Brassssy29 karma

I currently have my A&P and work on fighter jets, I make good money. But just shy iof 70k a year and after doing this for 4 years~ I’m starting to realize it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Do you think this experience can help me land a job? I’ve worked exclusively on fighter jets since I’ve graduated, with 0 airliner experience.

CaptRenault_6433 karma

Plenty of dispatchers with MX experience. Getting a license will be no problem but taking a pay cut while trying to go mainline can be hard.

irespecturcommentbut71 karma

How stressful is the job itself? Are you constantly multitasking, or is it relatively smooth?

CaptRenault_64168 karma

I would say the job is very low stress 95% of the time. I come in watch my flights, do my plans, socialize, read, whatever and have no issues. But weather, maintenance issues, sick passengers, and countless other things can cause problems that can make things a bit more work. A couple problem flights is no big deal but if you are working a busy station that is ground-stopped by weather you can have your phone ringing off the hook while getting messages from all your aircrafts asking what to do. It can be stressful but you just manage the most important issues first and keep digging until you find your way out of the hole. Those days are quite rare at a mainline so I would consider my low stress. Regionals have higher workloads and less employees so you will find yourself in a hole more often there. I have done both and they are manageable but can be exhausting.

irespecturcommentbut32 karma

Thanks for the thorough response. You've given me motivation to pursue it in Canada.

CaptRenault_6432 karma

I don't know how different things are in Canada but good luck!

SwissCanuck6 karma

By what means do you communicate with the aircraft?

CaptRenault_6427 karma

I can message them kinda like texting to a computer onboard, I can radio them on VHF radio, I can call them through 3rd party lines through the telephone, I can call ATC and request that they pass along info, and some planes have Satellite phones which are awesome!

HeroOfTime_9928 karma

OP is a good dispatcher. Source: airline pilot. Any dispatcher that actually takes time to ACARS me back is appreciated.

CaptRenault_643 karma

Thank you!!

HollowPsycho59 karma

Is this job open to those with a felony record?

CaptRenault_6484 karma

I will be honest in that I don't know everything about this aspect of the background check. I will share what I was able to find out with the caveat that it is hearsay. I do know that there is a background check that goes back X amount of years. I believe it would depend on the nature of the offense and how long ago it was. Non-violent offenses will eventually exceed the background check and a major airline can overlook a criminal background if you have a good work history at a regional and that part of your life is in the past. I would recommend contacting airline hiring departments directly and asking them about your specific circumstances; they should be pretty transparent about what things are disqualifying.

Servosys37 karma

How long did it take to get your license? How long is your typical shift? Oh and you get to fly in the cockpit??? That’s got to be awesome!

CaptRenault_6484 karma

The license takes about 5 weeks (more info in another reply). Most regional airlines work 4 days on 3 days off with 10 hour shifts. In the majors the schedules can vary greatly depending on what was negotiated between the Union and the company. Where I am we work 8 hour shifts and our schedule brings us in under 40 hours a week average. We have to fly a required number of observation hours in the cockpit every year and it can be pretty cool especially in the beginning! It is very convenient for travel because even on standby we are rarely ever without a seat.

michesco8929 karma

This is so interesting - what is the purpose of the observational hours in the cockpit?

CaptRenault_6465 karma

It has to do with getting a better understanding and improving dispatch's ability to effectively communicate with pilots. There are a lot of reasons but good relations between dispatch and pilots at a company is beneficial for many reasons. I wish they had to do the same; it would be great to share with pilots some of what we do because many of them are unaware of what a resource we can be.

Raytray36 karma

Chances of being automated out of a position or such that a majority of the work can be done by fewer individuals?

CaptRenault_6467 karma

Great question and one I looked into myself before jumping into this position! So the FAA is a government agency and that slows down major changes like that in this industry. Right now there are 2 pilots and a dispatcher who are legally responsible for safety of flight. The safety of a flight relies on a series of checks and balances as well as multiple redundancies in the planning process. Removing us removes a huge portion of the quality control of the plans that we make and is unlikely. A computer can greatly aid us but weather interpretation is too difficult for a computer to efficiently manage right now. One huge aspect of what we do is save money by not carrying a bunch of heavy fuel we don't need for this leg of flying. There is a lot that goes into this and I don't see it being replaced anytime soon. Planes already fly themselves mostly yet we still have 2 pilots in the cockpit. I personally believe we will see a 1 pilot cockpit before we lose the dispatcher. For any of these changes to be made the FAA would have to do some MAJOR work and they don't like to do that. Typically they are in the business of making things safer and that does not make things safer so there is no push for it. Sorry this is a bit of a ramble, but this question is much larger than it seems. Let me know if there is anything I can elaborate further!

Wentzel_kramers_bril12 karma

Thanks for the response. How many flights is one dispatcher responsible for (at the same time)? Are you assigned one flight at a time?

CaptRenault_6416 karma

I would say I work up 35ish flight plans in a shift and watch maybe a little more than that. At any given time there are ~12 flights in the air that I am responsible for. It changes depending on your shift time and what airline you work at!

KyleScore28 karma


CaptRenault_6437 karma

So there may be some skills that transfer and make the transition easier for you but this is a seniority based career so it does not matter your past experience, you will start at the bottom of whatever airline you go to. The degree may be helpful in moving up internally to dispatch management positions though! Fortunately for you Delta is based in ATL!

KyleScore12 karma


CaptRenault_6417 karma

70k at a major so it will still require some work at a regional with a hefty pay cut. Well worth it in the long run though!

ZaurenXT25 karma

I am legitimately interested in this as someone older (36) with no current career path outside really good references/former jobs. Where is the best place to get started in seeing if this is for you?

CaptRenault_6413 karma

Read about the schooling and maybe look into shadowing a dispatcher at a local airline!

NeckbeardCammando20 karma

Do many people burn out? How long is the average person in this career?

CaptRenault_6430 karma

So really the only place people burn out is in the certification course. If you can tough it out through that you can get on with a regional pretty easy and then it is just working on your application skills. I have known a handful of people who left a regional because they weren't suited for airline work (odd hours and schedules). If you get the license then the only reason you will have to leave is if you are not interested in this kind of work. It is not the sort of job that stresses you out and runs you down. Virtually no one at a major leaves except through retirement. I am in my 20s and plan on retiring in this job and everyone in my office will almost certainly retire here in their 60s or whenever they are ready.

NeckbeardCammando9 karma

Any way someone can job shadow? I'd love to see a typical day, and a stressful day. Personally, I think I would love the stressful days.

CaptRenault_6415 karma

Shadowing was a very common thing prior to COVID but things have been a bit restricted. You might contact some local airlines to see if they are accepting people in to shadow. It would be hard to catch a stressful day because it is very random based on the weather and your desk workload for the day. I enjoy the stressful days because you feel accomplished!

Nice_Marmot_73 karma

You mentioned odd hours and schedules. I hadn’t considered that. What are the hours and schedules like?

CaptRenault_643 karma

There is a dispatcher at the desk 24/7 365 days a year. Some work mornings, some work PMs, some work midnights and what line you get depends on your seniority. I answered the scheduling in a couple other responses.

PumpkinForgetter20 karma

What was the hardest part about the training? Any subjects that were really neat?

CaptRenault_6451 karma

I don't think any part of the course is incredibly hard but the sheer amount of information that they pack into such a small amount of time can be overwhelming which is why you need to be fully invested. It is very doable but you just have to be prepared for 5 weeks of 40 hours a week of class and then putting in a few hours at home of going over what you learned for the day and for your upcoming quizzes/ exams. There is a lot of information and it takes practice to really absorb it all. The general subjects were weather theory, written weather (encoded weather google METAR or TAF), graphical weather (radar or other visual reports/ forecasts), ATC, Aeronautical Charts, FAA Regulations, Navigation, Flight Planning, Aircraft Systems, and a handful more. Happy to expand on any of them! I personally find flight planning and creating efficient plans to be most interesting and rewarding.

tengripop19 karma

The general subjects were weather theory, written weather (encoded weather google METAR or TAF), graphical weather (radar or other visual reports/ forecasts), ATC, Aeronautical Charts, FAA Regulations, Navigation, Flight Planning, Aircraft Systems, and a handful more. Happy to expand on any of them!

Ignore me if this is trouble, but is there a syllabus and study literature available (potentially) to the public?

CaptRenault_6420 karma

There is a lot of public information I am sure but you need the certification in order to become a dispatcher. Before the course you do not need to know one single things about planes or weather; they will give it all to you. If you are wanting to learn for personal reasons there is not really a source that I know of that covers everything. Schools create curriculums that prepare you for the job and they don't just post them on the internet for free. If you google "aircraft dispatcher course" you can see some programs with more information on what they teach.


Is this the same exams pilots take for their licenses?

CaptRenault_6418 karma

No it is not the same. We have to know everything they know except how to fly the plane so there is some overlap but it is a completely different FAA certification. Many dispatchers are also pilots because this job attracts people who are into aviation.

D1per91118 karma

Aside from the difficulty of training, what are the worst parts of the job that would potentially deter people from taking this path?

CaptRenault_6425 karma

It is seniority based which means you start at the bottom likely working midnights (10pm to 6am) and your schedule is not Mon-Fri so you will likely not have weekends off especially in the beginning. You will also be working on holidays in the beginning of your careers. So weird hours and schedule are a huge turnoff for many but the terrible part is usually only while you are very junior.

The job itself can be boring some days so if you can't entertain yourself when things are slow you may find yourself a bit out of sorts.

When it heats up a bit you can get swamped and you need to be the kind of person who can just keep swimming until you can get your head above water. It isn't often but that is part of the job.

Mikinator511 karma

so if you can't entertain yourself when things are slow you may find yourself a bit out of sorts.

Just to clarify, does this mean entertaining yourself in your own headspace, or do these work places normally allow radio/music or scroll reddit on your off time?

CaptRenault_6413 karma

At my work you can read, do puzzles, and listen to music/ podcasts without too much trouble. Some play phone games and on the night shift you can watch TV. As long as you handle your business no one causes any stink.

WhiteMoonRose17 karma

Is the job only at airlines HQs, or does every airport have an aircraft dispatcher? You said people would need to relocate, where are the HQs located?

white_trash_hero32 karma

Important to note that it is not an "airport job", so almost no airports will have this position. It's typically done out of an airline's headquarters.

It is commonly confused with Air Traffic Controllers who work in a control tower... which IS a position at most of the larger airports that have a control tower.

sunshinefireflies14 karma

Thank you for this - I didn't click that you're working for an airline rather than an airport!

Much appreciated.

Is it done locally (like around the world)? Or is it mostly handled in only the countries where airlines are actually based?

CaptRenault_6410 karma

At a companies headquarters primarily

CaptRenault_6426 karma

We have to work at the headquarters but they are located all over the US. Here are the majors, but you will have to google the various regionals because I don't know them all. You can commute fairly easily though, I know a good amount of people that do that!

American - Dallas

United - Chicago

Southwest - Dallas

Delta - Atlanta

Alaska - Seattle

white_trash_hero26 karma

Going to add a few to your list....

UPS - Louisville

FedEx - Memphis

Spirit - Fort Lauderdale

Allegiant - Las Vegas

Sun Country - Minneapolis

Frontier - Denver

JetBlue - NYC

Hawaiian - Honolulu

CaptRenault_6422 karma

UPS and FedEx definitely belong on my list; I forgot about our cargo brethren! Those other "majors" may technically be majors but they don't quite match the big dogs when it comes to pay and benefits. Thank you for your contribution!

white_trash_hero7 karma

Oh I agree for sure about the benefits and pay! I just thought it would be wise to add more of the smaller majors to show more geographic diversity in where these positions exist.

CaptRenault_647 karma

I agree that is very useful!

GoodOldBoys7 karma

The people you know that commute, how far are they generally coming from? Any of them that live far away and fly?

CaptRenault_6410 karma

Any distance is doable but closer makes for easier travel days and less stress. Most airlines have commuter policies so you aren't punished if you cant make it. The majority commute 1-3 hours but I know some that come from farther! They trade shifts to get more time off and basically come in and work for a couple weeks and then go home for a couple.

Motivated793 karma

So would I have to live near one of these major locations to get hired on and work for them making the same salary as yourself? For example is there any opportunity for this job at SFO

CaptRenault_643 karma

You can commute to work but that comes with its own issues.

TrynHawaiian17 karma

When you dispatch a plane which will probably need weather deviations and metering into ORD or DEN, why would you wait to have the pilot ask for extra fuel when you’re not weight restricted?

CaptRenault_6422 karma

Because you did not do your job well.

SmokingApple16 karma

Is this a challenging job? Do you find it fulfilling? The idea of a mistake in that kind of work terrifies, but I'm a 28 year old Canadian looking for my voice and what to do with life. I'm enjoying reading this thread, thanks for the ama man.

CaptRenault_6417 karma

It can be as challenging as you want it to be. I find it fulfilling to do a great job! Mistakes happen and there are countless checks and balances such that no matter how bad I screw up there is nearly a zero percent chance that something goes wrong. Now if I am made aware of a mistake then I have to do a little paperwork but it is mostly just to protect myself!

SmokingApple4 karma

Doing well at work always makes it feel better, doesn't it ? Do you find your efforts feel rewarded outside your expected role ?

CaptRenault_645 karma

As is it a union position you can feel isolated and that what you do is not recognized. There are many opportunities to put yourself out there and do more than you are expected to do; these often come with extra pay. You can always push higher in the company and take on more which is definitely an option!

machine189214 karma

I have long hair, a mountain man beard, and visible tattoos on my arms. Are there grooming/tattoo requirements? I have been planning a career move. I currently am a Sr Controls Engineer in Oil and Gas.

CaptRenault_6419 karma

Tats don't matter at all; tons of people in my office have them. The beard is fine for all of the year except when you have cockpit time to do; you have to be shaven to a goatee or less ride up there. So if you can't part with it once a year that would be a problem. The dress code is typically pretty lax. Some require jeans and a collared shirt but others allow tshirts and shorts just depends!

trying_to_adult_here11 karma

So do you work in the tower?

Just kidding, regional dispatcher checking in here. Any advice for folks who have a couple years of regional experience and are hoping to get to the majors now that they're hiring again?

CaptRenault_648 karma

Try to get in the office to shadow to show initiative. Mainly just be one of the first to apply and practice those interview skills. It is competitive and if you don't know someone you just have to get a little lucky. Not super helpful I know :/ Keep going for it and you will get there! They are hiring like mad this year!

Nice_Marmot_711 karma

Does a college degree help your job prospects and/or pay? How does the pay scale go? Is it totally variable or does it regularly increase based on experience?

CaptRenault_6414 karma

A college degree will of course make you a more competitive applicant. Pay scales are predetermined agreements between the Union and the company. I know exactly how much I will make 10 years from now. Now a new union contract will be signed but that just means I will make more money (still in negotiations). Companies vary greatly; top out pay is similar but there are 10, 12, and 15 year pay schedules. Regional pay is meh but most people don't intend to stay there so just pay your dues and move on. Everyone is on the same pay scale within the company but there are overtime opportunities and extra responsibilities you can take on that increase you base pay. Things like training, competency checks, and various committees can bump your pay pretty considerably.

moriero11 karma

Is this an ad?

CaptRenault_648 karma

Maybe a little bit? I love my job and if anyone out there finds a new career path that improves their lives then that is great! There is no shortage of dispatchers and I don't benefit at all so just an ad in that it advertises a great field that no ones knows about!

ColinMilk10 karma

How’s the time off and protocol for calling in sick? Are you able to take time off whenever you want? Could you elaborate more on that side of the career a little more?

CaptRenault_648 karma

I have sick time like any other job and if I don't feel well I call in sick. In the beginning your schedule is a little unstable but once you get a line you should know well ahead of time exactly what days you work. You are free to trade days around as much as you want. I can manage to get any days off that I need really! The quality of life from a career point of view is phenomenal!

dizzylyric9 karma

It’s my understanding that you have to have been in the military to get these positions. We’re you in the military?

CaptRenault_6430 karma

No military service is required. I know a couple dispatchers that went the military route but I started right out of school!

pobody9 karma

There's a lot of positions that don't technically require college degrees, but de facto do, because so many applicants have them, and they might as well go with candidates who have graduated.

Is that the case here, or are there truly enough open positions that non-grads are being considered and hired?

CaptRenault_646 karma

I am a non-grad and I work at a major. A degree would make you more competitive in the interview maybe but it is by no means necessary where I work!

sojusoulja9 karma

Do the schools help in landing you a position? Do you think covid has affected hiring at all?

CaptRenault_6415 karma

COVID put all airlines on a year long hiring freeze and we even paid out employees to take early retirements to reduce overhead costs. Now flights are ramping back up and most airlines are very understaffed across all departments due to this. All of the majors are hiring right now and unless COVID round 2 comes we should continue to do so. You can get your license anywhere and it will serve you well and likely not matter where you went. There is one school that is notably harder to get through but they are also renown for that reason so graduation from there is a nice little resume bonus but not necessary. I am happy to share a link to the school's page in a DM if anyone requests it.

justinlongbranch9 karma

Is it true that there's an upper age limit?

CaptRenault_6413 karma

No there is no maximum age for this career! There are individuals that started with me who are in their mid 50s. We have many even older individuals in the office.

Trisman8 karma

You ever look at going to private aviation to be a dispatcher? Speaking of Fortune 500 type clients that maintain a fleet. I’ve worked with them but don’t know much about their pay scale vs commercial.

CaptRenault_646 karma

Don't know anything about that part. I know some about the charter industry but seems to me like it is more niche and less secure. Commercial is where it is at from what I know.

IBlazeMyOwnPath8 karma

I just gotta say, I love my dispatchers! most of the time

Why have you been filing me through turbulence all summer?

FR just thanks for being an extra essential part of crm, especially in a summer as hellish as this one

CaptRenault_647 karma

Just happy to be helpful! Love and appreciate most of my pilots as well! I blame ATC; I make beautiful routes and they just throw you on the standard routes lol

roxiclavi8 karma

How much math is involved?

CaptRenault_6410 karma

Personally I only really do simple addition and subtraction on a daily basis. In school they hit up some basic algebra but for the most part it is not very math intensive.

drone1__5 karma

Have you dealt with any interesting UFO cases?

CaptRenault_644 karma

Not a single one.

chrisbe2e95 karma

I got my commercial, multi, ifr, class 4 instructor, diploma in aviation tech, back in 2001. Any chance that an old guy like me could transition into a dispatch position?

CaptRenault_649 karma

You would need to get your dispatch certification but there would be a lot of knowledge transfer! No age limit and it sounds like your resume would make you competitive for sure!

illimitable15 karma

I hear it's a stressful job. Is that so?

Zootrainer6 karma

You might be thinking of Air Traffic Controller. Different job.

illimitable15 karma

I'm clear about the difference and roles.

A dispatcher is jointly liable with the pilot if things to to crap. A dispatcher does weather and weight and balance and crew management and equipment safety issues for about 25 flights a shift.

I hear that if it's good, it's good, but if things go poorly, like weather, it's like juggling 25 bowling balls.

CaptRenault_644 karma

Eh even when things are crazy you just keep trucking and eventually it all comes together. But yes some days can be rough just not very many of them.

CaptRenault_643 karma

Rarely do I have stressful days.

NicePumasKid4 karma

where’s the link that the other dude posted? To like apply.

CaptRenault_648 karma

I can't really post a link that just lets you apply to be a dispatcher. You would need to attend a course and there are multiple options to choose from. Some of my other comments describe the process in more detail.

westcoastjew4 karma

Would using marijuana, even through a medical license, disqualify you from employment?

CaptRenault_647 karma

You can have past MJ use but you have to test clean and stay clean while you are employed. The legality in your state is irrelevant right now; FAA says no. Major bummer I know.

Aaron_Hamm4 karma

How do you get the license?

CaptRenault_646 karma

Google "aircraft dispatcher course" and look at the various options. Pick one and attend to get your license!

iamjkdn4 karma

Hey, I don’t know if you can answer this but pls let me know what is the equivalent of this in India? I started with a background in aviation but left it for a career in IT. Burnt out there. Want to explore something like this.

CaptRenault_644 karma

I know more and more countries have started adopting dispatching practices but I am not really familiar with what other countries do. I had multiple internationals in my dispatch course here in the US though!

Nidothenido3 karma

what is an Aircraft Dispatcher? I am an Aviation enthusiast but I have never heard of such term, please educate me about it

CaptRenault_643 karma

We plan flights and manage the paperwork that is required for commercial airliners to operate. Hours before the plane takes off the plan is ready to go so the pilot can walk up review the plan (contact us about it if necessary) and get underway. We are the pilots’ point of contact on the ground for most anything related to the flight like emergencies, diversions, weather, Operational changes, you name it. There is a lot more to it but there is lots of information across this AMA already that should pretty much cover it!

gratefulauthorartist3 karma

This sounds fascinating, but I’m not sure I could do it knowing a mistake could cost so many lives. Is that something that’s on your mind, or have you been trained to separate those thoughts so you can focus on the flight plans?

CaptRenault_6410 karma

There are so many checks and balances that there is basically a zero percent chance that I am responsible for someone's death. Now I could overlook a detail and then like 5 other people also overlook that same thing and then we could end up with an issue but the likelihood of a real emergency is sooo low. My job is low stress and low stakes. Mostly what I do is make efficient plans that save us time and money while staying legal. I have accidentally done illegal things and I just fill out paperwork saying "oopsy poopsy" and disclose the event. It is reviewed to see if there is anything that the company should change policy wise but mostly it's benign.

phytin_irish3 karma

Is there a maximum age limit similar to pilots (65 years old) or ATC?

CaptRenault_647 karma

No maximum age at all!

StupidFlandrs3 karma

Is there a movie that fairly represents what you do? Like "Pushing Tin" or "Summer Rental" or "Airplane" or "Sully"?

CaptRenault_646 karma

I am not sure how well a dispatch movie would sell lol. It is a lot of computer work with a handful of phone/ radio calls. Best thing you can do is google around and watch videos/ read about it. You will get a lot of different stories but the truth is somewhere in the average and dependent on where you work.

anon25883 karma

Are there any medical conditions that can disqualify you?

CaptRenault_648 karma

You need to be able to sit at a desk for long periods, use a computer, and communicate over phone and radio effectively. There is no medical requirement except for flying in the cockpit which can be bypassed by doing your required time in a simulator. I think most anyone can do it!

echomike3 karma

Not sure if this was asked, but my husband is ATC at DFW TRACON. I did the flight planning stuff while in the air force. If I went this route, how would the process go to be hired on in the DFW area?

CaptRenault_647 karma

So DFW has multiple schools that I know of from coworkers and is the home for both American and Southwest corp headquarters as well as Envoy (regional). First get your license then you get employed at the regional or at one of the majors doing something else. Then you apply for dispatch after your internal contract is up or once you have a year of experience at Envoy. For you it is all in one place so that is convenient!

Lopsided_Security2182 karma

If someone gets the license, is it still hard to get a job? I went through the ATC trainee with the FAA and didn't make it. I'm wondering if that would affect my chances?

CaptRenault_648 karma

Getting a regional job is not difficult. Getting into a mainline can take a couple years of applying; it is competitive. I have COUNTLESS friends that washed out of ATC and went this way and they are soooo happy that they are here and not there. Better quality of life and better pay but it does take a bit longer to get there this way.

Wentzel_kramers_bril2 karma

Great AMA. What's the job flexibility like? Do you get work from home, good PTO? Sick days?

CaptRenault_643 karma

Schedule flexibility is awesome; I can trade around anything I want to make my schedule any way I want it. You have to work from the office unfortunately. Where I work there is a 5 weeks vacation top out and plenty of sick time and benefits. The union contract really gives us a lot.

KJ6BWB2 karma

What are you thoughts on AI pushing into dispatcher jobs? https://time.com/6050921/artificial-intelligence-air-travel/

Also, I've seen some programs where tower dispatchers are working remotely now, for those small towers that are still necessary but so far out that it's difficult to find people willing to move out there. What are your thoughts on literally offshoring airline dispatcher jobs and how this might affect the availability of jobs in the future?

CaptRenault_645 karma

We already use a lot of software like this that helps us to more efficiently do our jobs. I have nothing to do with the tower so that does not pertain to me. Every year software comes out that makes my job easier but there are decisions that computers can't make because they are not binary. I make decisions all day long that a computer could not do with todays technology. I have a background in computer science and I have thought about how I could go about automating my job and it is not small task. Not to mention the software to automate this job is immensely complex and it would not replace that many jobs. There are not many dispatchers in the world relative to other jobs in the same field. This is considered a safety sensitive position that is protected by so many FAA regulations that it would take an act of Congress to make a change like that. I believe we will be down to a one man cockpit before we lose the dispatcher.

espiritusanto232 karma

I don’t buy the “low stress” explanation. When actively managing flights don’t they have you rotate on/off every thirty minutes so you can decompress?

CaptRenault_642 karma

That is not true. Maybe for ATC but that is not what I do. My job is very low stress. Monitoring basically means I glance at their flight path and see that they haven't started doing something weird. I also wait for calls/ messages from them requesting help but that is about it for the monitoring portion. ATC does all the work keeping them from running into each other.

LordMortlock1 karma

Is the salary actually 6 figures? Or is that after many years of service and experience? As per a few google searches the average salary in the US for this position is 55-60k USD and in the UK it's 24-48k GBP, doesn't sound like a lot at all.

CaptRenault_642 karma

That takes into consideration the regionals which are low. At a mainline you will start at 70k and hit 100k after 5 years or so! The averages are misleading for sure.

deityfication1 karma

Hello! Thanks for this AmA. I’m an Aerospace student from Singapore and I’m kind of interested in working on ramps in the US. By any chance would the hirers consider an international application?

CaptRenault_642 karma

This is something I am not very familiar with. Getting a job on the ramp, or in ground ops may be pretty achievable and a step in the direction of dispatch but I don't know how difficult things are for international applicants. I would recommend calling airlines hiring departments and asking.

FakeFlipFlops1 karma

I have experience with aircraft maintenance and I'm currently a computer science student (20 years old) How long would it take to get a Flight Dispatcher Licence. And will I be considered since I'm still young?

CaptRenault_642 karma

You can get your license any time. You cannot work as a dispatcher until 23 though. Takes about 5 weeks.

Keluri1 karma

How does one go about applying for a position like this? Also how long is schooling for a position like this?

CaptRenault_642 karma

The schooling info is in another post. First get the license and then just keep your eyes open for dispatch positions at regionals and apply! I just browsed their websites a couple times a week.

Deoxys100EX1 karma

I’ve visited an ATC tower in my city and they said they’re basically up there all day. Is that mandatory across all ATCs? I’ve always thought the job was neat but doing almost nothing at a small airport or having long hours in a confined space with little time off makes me uninterested

CaptRenault_645 karma

I sometime call ATC about my flights and plans but I do not work closely with them. I do not work in a tower, I work in a large office with a large group of people. Very different and I would argue that dispatch is a better gig overall!

kry12121 karma

Thanks for doing this! Do you love your job? Also, what are the hours like? Typical 9-5 or is it like shift work? Do you work for specific airlines in one location or is there travel required? Is it impossible to be remote?

I was taking flying lessons and this was my ultimate goal. I wrote off pilot because i was already 33 and the dollars id have had to sink were too many. Plus, i felt like you dont become Sully by starting at 33, you had to be 16. You just cant fake all those hours. ATC was also attractive, but the 31 rule is real.

I got into software development instead and it is OK but i dont love it other than it can be remote. Mostly i want a plane. 😂

CaptRenault_642 karma

No age limits here and I answered most of your questions in other replies but I do love my job and the freedoms it offers! I work at a singular airline and do not travel except for pleasure. You can't be remote but you can commute.

BroAmongstBros1 karma

How often do you see former pilots/aviators get into dispatch? Not sure being on the road constantly flying for the airlines appeals to me, but this seems to be a way to stay involved in aviation while still being able to sleep in my own bed every night.

CaptRenault_643 karma

Pilots put a lot of years and tons of work into getting to where they are at so it is not common for them to move to dispatch. We make great money but pilots at a major BANK. We have a lot of dispatchers with pilots licenses because they like to fly for fun. There are some others that failed their medical. I chose dispatch for that same reason; I don't want to sleep in hotels and travel all the time. This is a great job that lets you stay home while still being highly involved in aviation!

happylifepotty0 karma

If your hungover does it affect o your work ? What’s worse thing that could happen ? How does it work if you need toilet break ?

CaptRenault_641 karma

Being hungover sucks and you probably do a less than stellar job. I wouldn't say you can't do the job but I wouldn't recommend making a habit of it. Worse thing that could happen is that you make a mistake that causes a safety issue and then are interrogated by the FAA and the NTSB. Unless you knowingly messed up you will likely keep your job and license so NBD in the long run. This is very rare and will likely not happen across multiple careers of dispatching. There is plenty of room to take breaks. You have many fellow dispatchers that will watch your desk for you while you use the restroom, take a walk, or heat up dinner.

johnny__ringo-1 karma

My racist, dyslexic, uneducated cousin is an ATC at DFW. Do you find the job provides opportunity for advancement and keeps you engaged, or is it mostly just a nice paycheck?

CaptRenault_641 karma

The nice thing about this job is that it caters to both those who are looking to sit back and make a paycheck and also to those that want to work harder and do more! There are many opportunities as a dispatcher like training, competency checks, and various committees that allow you to be more involved and make more money. These things will also diversify your resume for upward movement. I don't know how it is everywhere but where I am there are many management positions and opportunities to change it up!

o3mta3o-1 karma

It's also the job with the highest suicide rates, isn't it?

CaptRenault_643 karma

lol not sure where you heard that. Not at all.