I have received hundreds of DMs over the last year with questions and folks telling me they got their dispatch license or that they started a job as a dispatcher. It was a lot of fun sharing my career with everyone and knowing that a good handful of people found a new career direction because of this is incredible!


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

As an aircraft dispatcher we work behind the scenes at an airline's headquarters to plan and monitor flights across the world. A flight cannot legally operate without an aircraft dispatcher overseeing the flight from the planning stage all the way to completion. Starting salary at mainline airlines is around ~$85k topping out around ~$170k. Health and retirement benefits at the majors are fantastic across the board. You can fly cockpit in addition to free standby flying for you and your immediate family. You are very likely to work less than 40 hour weeks on average, schedule flexibility is great, low stress job 95% of the time.

So with a great list of pros you may expect the cons to be rough, but it isn't too bad. You need to get a license which can be difficult for some both financially as well as the time cost. You will need around 6 weeks and ~$6,000 in order to get your license. The license allows you to work at a smaller regional airline where you will be for at least a year (you need experience before you can apply to mainline). The regional benefits and pay are not great (~$20/hr). You will still only work ~40 hour weeks but you will work harder than at a major. You still get flight benefits so it isn't all bad. My regional days were harder, but honestly not that bad especially because I knew it was only a temporary stepping stone. After about a year of experience you can start applying at the mainlines. This is the hardest part of the process. It isn't a well known career, but applications are still quite competitive. Many get in on their first try but others take a few rejections before they get through. If you keep applying and networking you will make it. The ones that don't make it are the ones who give up on applying.



- at least 23 years old to begin working (can get the license at any age and no upper age limit)

- high school graduate (or equivalent)

- ability to communicate well in English

- FAA Flight Dispatcher License

- be willing to relocate to a city with an airline's headquarters is located (commuting is also an option)


This a great and rewarding career for anyone whether they are interested in aviation or simply drawn by the career benefits. I really enjoyed hearing from so many people this last year so please ask me anything!


List of all US dispatcher certification courses:



I am always on here so if I get any new questions I’ll answer them regardless of how old this post is. If you have more questions or want elaboration or whatever comment or DM me and I’m happy to help! If you stumble upon this months from now please feel free to message me!

Comments: 463 • Responses: 96  • Date: 

Scottishchicken231 karma

Your dispatch card mentions sex on there. Do you get to have it at work? Is it OK if you don't have any experience with it before getting the job?

CaptRenault_64173 karma

It’s not only allowed but encouraged. Lack of experience is not an issue; that is exactly what dispatch school is all about.

Pethand_Trickfoot144 karma

What are the major cities that most people live in for this profession?

CaptRenault_64197 karma

Delta is in Atlanta. American and Southwest in Dallas. United in Chicago. Alaska in Seattle. Jet Blue in New York.

sonic_tower178 karma

Alaska in Seattle always cracked me up, but it makes sense.

CaptRenault_64117 karma

Yeah why manage an airline from remote and expensive Alaska when you can do it here in the 48

ElHermanoLoco135 karma

What actually is the job? What’s a day in the life of a dispatcher, and what are the things you do that may impact customer’s experience?

CaptRenault_64216 karma

I wander in to start my shift and take turnover from the dispatcher currently at the desk. There are flights that are in progress and some that are planned up and others untouched. The dispatcher there tells me what’s going on with weather, flights, maintenance, airports, whatever anything relevant to the operation of the desk. After that I take over and assume control of the desk. I am now responsible for the monitoring of these flights. I will keep an eye on things, communicate with crews, plan up later flights that don’t leave for a couple hours. I take phone calls from crews regarding the flight plans or we three way with maintenance to handle issues. I message crews enroute about weather, turbulence, destination conditions. It’s quite varied. Some days I could be getting bombarded with calls and messages because of weather and problems. Other days I may get next to nothing because everything is just running smooth.

As far as affecting customers the route of flight and altitude affects turbulence and how the flight is planned could mean a smooth ride or a bumpy mess. Also a V poorly planned flight may end up having to divert because they don’t have enough fuel to hold out due to weather which means delays and other issues. How quickly you can communicate with maintenance, crews, and scheduling can reduce delays meaning more on time passengers. I don’t have a lot of direct control but poor dispatching can definitely negatively affect the operation.

ElHermanoLoco51 karma

Very interesting! I know next to nothing about how an airline operates and assumed pilots handled their flight plans and such, so I’ll just keep asking things if that’s okay.

How are the flights you’re responsible for chosen? Do you have a region, or departures from a specific airport, maybe random assignment?

What all is handled by dispatch when you “plan up”? At what part of the flight does your responsibility start and end?

CaptRenault_64101 karma

We planned the flight hours before the pilots arrived at the aircraft. They are supposed to look over the plan and be a secondary check to ensure that it is all in order. In reality they have a lot to do so they don’t dig through it thoroughly more just check a few big ticket items.

Flight distribution depends on the airline. Some divide it up by tails so you work the same dozen aircrafts all day. Others do it by regions. Where I work a group of dispatchers volunteer to function as a workload committee that is responsible for flight distribution across all shifts. They get a good chunk of overtime built into their schedule to serve on this committee and they get to do something other than just dispatching if you feel like mixing it up.

So I look at weather at my departure station and arrival station. There are regulatory thresholds for weather that require plans to be made in a certain way. Should weather at the destination be below a certain threshold then we require an alternate airport. This alternate is vetted by me and I ensure that we have the fuel to go there should we be unable to land at our intended airport. There are a ton of rules and regulations that we follow and that is really the bulk of the reason we are well compensated. It isn’t because I do a lot every day. It is because I’m responsible for knowing a lot of things and being able to implement that knowledge when necessary. I check fuel, weather, NOTAMs (notices about airport conditions), routes, turbulence, traffic, maintenance issues with planes, and a bunch more.

I am responsible for planning and monitoring the flight from the planning stage all the way to completion. I never lose any responsibility for the aircraft. Though the practical meaning of that changes based on where the flight is. On the ground both the captain and myself have to be in agreement on the continuance of the flight or we don’t go. He can’t go unless I agree with the plan and vice verse. Now in the air I obviously can’t tell them what to do. They have the wheel and can do whatever they believe to be the safest action for the flight. They can use emergency authority to do whatever they want. Now my responsibility is not zero. If I were giving them information or guiding them in a way that was detrimental I can be subject to investigation. Even if I have nothing to do with the situation I can still be subject to investigation though I will certainly not be in any trouble unless I did something wrong. If I have to leave for the day I pass my responsibility on to the dispatcher taking over my desk. There is never a moment where a flight is outside of a dispatchers operational control.

I know that’s quite the word dump but it’s actually a question with more depth than you would think. Hopefully that all makes sense

grumpycfi5 karma

Have you ever known or heard of a dispatcher being investigated for a potential violation, either from the preflight planning or something that happened in-flight?

CaptRenault_648 karma

It’s not common. You get pulled from your desk and immediately drug tested. Then they hold you until you can be questioned. It’s typically just a huge fact finding to try and ascertain the cause of the issue. You don’t typically get in trouble for accidents. So unless they find that you did something purposefully chances are nothing happens. If you screw up bad enough you could end up with some extra targeted training. All the ones I am aware of had nothing to do with dispatch but because we share operational control in some regard we are also questioned. Like I know one where during taxi they cut a corner and drove through some soft grass causing them to get stuck. Not a huge deal but they still pulled the dispatcher from the desk and drug tested everyone and questioned them. Obviously the dispatcher did not cause that and the pilot may have done that for any number of reasons. They want to find out why to potentially influence policy changes that can prevent it in the future.

bustervich84 karma

What’s going on on your end of things when I message dispatch mid flight because our plan is falling to pieces and you just reply with “copy”?

Is “copy” dispatch speak for “standby while I work on a plan B for you and the six other flights that just decided to divert at the same time” or does it just mean “copy, I just sent your last message to the circular filing cabinet”?

CaptRenault_6478 karma

I suppose that depends on your dispatcher. There are a lot of really great ones and there are some not so great. But if there is an issue going on I don’t know anyone that would just say copy and watch it burn. Typically it’s just acknowledging that we are aware and doing something about it. Could be a handful of phone calls, running plans, or any number of things. Personally I don’t just send a copy with nothing else unless I’m just confirming something. I would prefer to write a novel so that things are more clear.

theundercoverpapist72 karma

What are the differences between what you do and what an air traffic controller does? And do you work closely with controllers or are you two completely separate entities?

CaptRenault_64132 karma

We are completely different. I talk to ATC and we work with them on certain things but we have different priorities. ATC is out there watching all aircrafts and making sure they don’t hit each other. Keeping in contact and having them change altitude and heading whatever. They work for the government and their main goal is safely guiding aircraft. I work for a private airline. My main goal is also safety but I also try to save the company money and provide a smooth experience for the customers. There is some overlap but not much.

theundercoverpapist38 karma

Interesting. I'd love to pursue it, but unfortunately, I'm kinda locked in to the area in which I live. And I don't believe any airline's headquarters is located in the Melbourne, FL area.

Same reason I had to pass on ATC. My ex-father-in-law served an entire career in ATC and he loved it. He obviously did OK for himself, as well, judging by his homes and cars and antiques and whatnot.

But I'm going to share this with a few friends of mine who are a little more mobile than me.

CaptRenault_6428 karma

You can also commute. It would be rough initially but once you get a little seniority it can be easier to manage. I work with plenty of folks that commute. Delta is based in ATL and not too far!

ARRuSerious4 karma

For the folks that commute, do they have crash pads?

CaptRenault_646 karma

Yeah they typically have a crash pad or another living situation set up.

theregoesthevillage64 karma

"Can I get more fuel?"

CaptRenault_6475 karma

I don’t typically question it unless it is absurd. So that depends on how much you want and if I have to kick payload to take it.

dcal198128 karma

I concur....I never "argue" with the Captain if they want more fuel. But, I will ask why sometimes if it seems absurd.

CaptRenault_6445 karma

If they need more to feel confident and safe on this flight then I won’t lose any sleep over it. I find fuel disagreements are not very common at a major composted to a regional where they were fairly common.

blbd10 karma

What was behind the delta in number of disagreements? Regionals being full of FNG dispatchers and pilots? Lots of short segments?

CaptRenault_6437 karma

Regionals push dispatchers to plan cheaper because that’s how they keep pricing low to stay in business. It’s not unsafe but pilots don’t like less fuel and newer less experienced pilots like it even less. At the majors your fuel is not scrutinized really at all. Pilots are considerably more experienced so I find a lot less of them have issues with min fueled flights. There can be a tension between the dispatch group and pilots because we often have different things on our minds in regards to running the operation. We are on the same team with the same goal and I find that sentiment is far more prominent at a major which leads to less issues. Also everyone is paid better so they are happier and less frustrated in general.

Insaneclown27113 karma

You’ll find older more experienced pilots prefer to take more fuel rather than the newer guys. Because that’s what they are used to from older times. Plus they like to take the piss a bit more.

CaptRenault_6419 karma

Just depends on the person. A lot of the newer captains are more likely to be on the ball and good with adapting to new policy and more efficient fuel planning but a lot of the older captains are still keeping with it too. I don’t worry about it too much; just maintain a mutual respect and work together to get it done.

Imperialvirtue46 karma

What is the process like getting your license?

What do you think is the best part of your job? The worst? The most unexpected?

I've been toying with a career change, and I live in a town with an airport.

CaptRenault_6472 karma

So the license process depends on the school. Some have night classes and it takes longer. Others do a full time 6 week 40 hours a week course. The schools are private though so your experience can vary greatly.

The best part of my job is the flexibility. I do work most holidays but if I wanted them I could trade for them if that was a priority for me. I can get nearly any days off I need for whatever I want if I’m willing to sacrifice and work more to make up for it.

The worst part is boredom. There can be a lot of downtime and you have to find ways to entertain yourself while still being focused on the job. I can have hours at a time with nothing going on which is good because it means no issues. But it can get old sometimes.

Unexpected is hard because I was very aware of what I was signing up for with this career. Maybe just how much the airline industry lags behind in modern technology and outdated procedures/ programs.

So we do not work at an airport. We work at an airline’s headquarters. Each airline has one and they are only in certain cities. You can commute but if you want to live and work in the same place you either gotta be lucky enough to already live there or move.

Fudge_ripple22 karma

Thank you for sharing! What are the options for school? Online a possibility? Or do you typically have to attend in person?

CaptRenault_6427 karma

So when I went you could do part online but not all of it. From what I hear with newer folks is that full online options may be available. The best way to get information is to contact local schools or those that you are interested in. Google around for aircraft dispatcher certification courses and contact schools about their specific programs if you can’t find what you want on their websites.

Plantsandanger5 karma

The first year (at a regional airline) would you be able to live in most medium cities? I imagine the headquarters are either in medium or large cities, but maybe regional airlines have that role at actual airports?

CaptRenault_6414 karma

Dispatchers work at an airlines headquarters. Even a regional airline is based in a certain city and that is where you have to work. You can commute or live there full time but either way you have to work there. The major airlines are located in large metropolitan areas but regionals vary. There are some in random small towns you’ve never heard of and others in larger cities like Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis.

K7Avenger4 karma

you have to find ways to entertain yourself while still being focused on the job

Could one read books during these periods?

CaptRenault_643 karma


plibt7073 karma

Any hubs located in Portland Oregon?

CaptRenault_648 karma

Maybe a regional? Not certain you would have to google it. For major airlines Seattle is as close as it gets. Would be an easy commute though if you don’t want to move!

film_composer2 karma

I'm late to the AMA, but in case you're still willing to field questions… Is there a future where this work can be done remotely, or does the nature of the job pretty much require in-person work?

CaptRenault_645 karma

It’s not impossible to do it but our ability to do our jobs is much better in the command center. We are a point of contact for crews and we need to communicate with a bunch of different work groups all day long. I don’t see this being a remote job within my lifetime.

zombiedez1343 karma

How did you find out about this career? I've never heard of it! Sounds interesting.

CaptRenault_6473 karma

I have family in the aviation industry. Typically unless you know someone who is in the industry you are unlikely to hear about this career. It is a hidden gem.

Miramarr36 karma

I was a flight dispatcher at a secondly large Canadian Airline for seven years and only got up to 50k. How long did it take you to get to 6 figures? They were very creative in using the jump from regional to international dispatching as barrier to salary growth and it was a big drive in our unionization. In Canada getting to 6 figures takes about 10 years AFTER you've made it to the majors. Is it typically the same in the states? I'm asking because I feel like after almost a decade in the industry saying flight dispatching is a 6 figure career is very misleading based on how long it actually takes to get there but it could be different outside of canada.

Edit: reread your post...it seems American dispatchers get payed muuuuch more than Canadians. Big reason I left the industry :p

CaptRenault_6434 karma

Yes so US dispatchers are compensated considerably more than our foreign counterparts. I am not sure why but that was something that was pointed out a lot in the previous AMA as well. After you start at a major you can hit 6 figures in just a couple years. I believe I did my 3rd year or so. Now that can change depending on how much you like to work overtime (there is a lot of opportunity to make extra money where I am)

in1cky10 karma

Do you say 6 figures as your base salary then, or are you factoring in overtime? Because lots of jobs could be 6 figure if you have to work overtime to get to that figure.

CaptRenault_6414 karma

With zero overtime you will make 6 figures anywhere around year 4 ish depending on the airline. Some step up faster or slower than others.

tn_notahick36 karma

Very cool. My son is very interested in the airline industry but is Type 1 Diabetic. He has an associates and is 20yo so he has a few years.

Obviously, being T1D limits your options in this industry. Very difficult to impossible to become an ATC, and there's a limit to the pilots licenses you can get.

Does this job have any health restrictions?

CaptRenault_6462 karma

There are no medical requirements for this career. We have a good handful of dispatchers who are here because they couldn’t get their medical to become commercial pilots. It is a great alternative! If you can use a computer and talk on the phone then you can do this job.

sonic_tower29 karma

What are the odds that this career will be automated out of existence? No offense meant but it seems like a job that could be taken over by a simple AI.

CaptRenault_6458 karma

Quite unlikely in our lifetimes. I can’t see the future but I have worked with the latest and greatest tech in this industry and it can’t do this job. It can help greatly. It will for sure lower the amount of dispatchers we need as we can handle a greater workload but we will not go anywhere. We are federally required along with the 2 pilots. The FAA doesn’t remove layers of safety from the equation unless they are completely uneccessary. We will have a single pilot cockpit before we lose the dispatcher IMO. The other part of it is that it has to be financially beneficial to replace us. We are well paid but we are also a very small work group relatively so making a big expensive program to replace us would not really offset much cost. An airline with 10,000 pilots still only has a few hundred dispatchers. Maybe one day but I don’t believe that anyone looking to get into this career has anything to worry about.

girumo27 karma

What is the oldest age you've seen of someone starting out at this job? I would have loved to try being an air traffic controller (there was recently an ATC who posted in AMA about job openings), but I'm too old.

CaptRenault_6440 karma

There are no age limits. In my initial class at my major there were multiple folks in their mid to late 50s. There is nothing stopping anyone older than that even from getting in. We have no required retirement age so there are dispatchers that are very old still kicking around because they want to or whatever. It’s never too late!

theamericanbox22 karma

Sounds like a super cool career! Are there remote options for this job or do you always have to be located on site?

CaptRenault_6432 karma

As of now there are no remote options. It is far to beneficial to have us in the office. We are the main point of contact for our crews. Being centralized and having access to resources is one of the main things we do. So being at home harder to reach and communicate with us not beneficial.

sonic_tower19 karma

Is jet fuel priced like automobile fuel, varying by state? Would a plane wait to refuel outside of CA for example? Or is there a different pricing model? Or do you just refuel whenever you are on the ground, period?

CaptRenault_6438 karma

So similar to cars different places fuel cost different amounts based on various things. Closer to oils refineries means cheaper fuel most of the time. Island in the Caribbean that has to import it all will be more expensive. Maybe policies or tax issues make things more expensive. We have fuel pricing information for each airport and plan accordingly. Some places are so expensive we carry extra in so we don’t have to buy it there. Different airlines have different agreements with fuelers as well which changes thing. A very complex problem and airlines have entire departments dedicated to optimization of this issue.

anonymousperson76716 karma

How about how much pilot discretion there is for speed vs. how much needs approval? I swear when I fly semi-private they can put the foot down and make a scheduled 2.5 hour flight take 1.5 hours if it’s running behind schedule. Even commercial it seems they can make up time. Are there other common tricks for speed vs altitude vs fuel burn?

CaptRenault_6419 karma

So there is a lot to this question and it’s hard to answer simply. Airlines have a base line speed that they plan for most things and depending on how fast that is you may or may not be able to save time because there are diminishing returns on cranking your engines. At some point it ends up burning a lot more fuel to buy you a minute or two which generally won’t change any of your on time performance statistics anyways. Do pilots occasionally crank it and burn a little more? Probably so and as long as they don’t over burn so much they cause problems I don’t really care. Where I am now planning faster saves next to nothing so if we make up time it will be on the turns not the flying. Now if we are ahead of schedule we plan slower to save fuel and money all the time. That is very cost effective and common.

anonymousperson7678 karma

Do you ever have to worry about a plane trying to overtake another plane? As in: do you have to look at a route plan that includes other aircraft or does ATC deal with this?

I’ve never had to question if a pilot at 38k wants to overtake another pilot at 37k going to the same destination on the same waypoints.

CaptRenault_6415 karma

That’s all ATC. I made a plan and they are gonna fly it or rather something very close to it. If ATC needs them to change altitude or speed then they will communicate with the crew and I will not even know anything changed. I make sure we are following laws and regulations and are following a safe plan. ATC makes sure they don’t hit each other.

girumo13 karma

Second question. How do you know about job openings? Also, is there a set procedure to get started? (The ATC who posted last month pointed to an application website and time window.)

Clearly the first step would be the degree.

CaptRenault_6418 karma

ATC is a one stop shop because it’s a government job. We work in the private sector but are certified by the government. It’s a bit different but step one is get your license. Any school that offers an FAA dispatch certification course should be fine. When you have the license in hand you just have to go to the airline’s websites and watch for openings. Regionals hire constantly so it shouldn’t be too hard.

plad12 karma

What are the shifts like? Is this a 24/7 operation? Does seniority rule when picking shifts? Thanks for the ama!

CaptRenault_6421 karma

It is seniority based and you will work a few years of PMs and Midnights before you can hold an AM line. We bid on shifts and rotations. Where I work things are split between AM, PM, and MID. Each one has 3 start times. 0500, 0600, 0700 and then 1300, 1400, 1500 and then 2100, 2200, 2300.

catcommentthrowaway12 karma

How often are drug tests? Does being a medical cannabis patient exclude a person from the job?

CaptRenault_6421 karma

Drug tests are random. Medical or not doesn’t matter. We are federally licensed and subject the FAA’s federal regulations so no cannabis at all in any form. You will be terminated. Fingers crossed for policy changes when it becomes federally legal though!

-JonnyQuest-10 karma

Do you feel a lot of pressure and/or responsibility with determining flight paths and weather conditions etc? I've had friends that were ATC and explained the statistics for stress and suicide attempts were extraordinarily high. I know that you and an ATC are two totally separate jobs, but do you share a similar sentiment with them in regards to people's safety?

CaptRenault_6418 karma

I feel little to no pressure honestly. I can affect people’s safety in regards to turbulence but I don’t really have lives in my hands. I mean I want to do my job well and produce a good product (a safe and comfortable flight). It’s just not a difficult thing to do most of the time. Big area of thunderstorms? Don’t fly through it; give them extra fuel for deviation or plan a route avoiding it. Significant turbulence? Plan around it, over it, under it, it give them the fuel to choose what to do based on other aircrafts reports. We have a lot of tools and knowledge at our disposal. Rarely are we utilizing all of the information we are responsible for. Most days we are doing simple math and double checking various things with each flight before we send them. Click click send for 8 hours nbd. Occasionally we are pulling out manuals and really digging into something to make sure we are following both regulation and company policy. When in doubt go with the conservative option and prioritize safety. This job is as stressful as you make it. If you know your stuff then it’s a cake walk.

-JonnyQuest-7 karma

This is awesome information. I'm in the middle of a career change and I don't have a degree, and I also have experience in the aviation field so this is looking like a great potential opportunity. I know you said basic math, do you use anything beyond that? I'm not the strongest mathemagician lol

CaptRenault_648 karma

Most of the math is done by computer software. If I do any math it’s simple single operator math using the calculator on my computer. Don’t have to do anything in your head unless you want to. Now in dispatch school they might have you doing some more complex math but nothing beyond 8th grade algebra.

ins2be9 karma

What is the position hierarchy like? As in do you start out as junior, then regular, senior, manager, etc.? If you get tired of that role, what are some lateral positions you could move to?

CaptRenault_6414 karma

So it depends on where you work but it is V a very seniority based position. I’m union and I know my pay raises from the date I am hired to the date I top out (contract changes happen). So your pay goes up and some airlines have different titles some just differentiate by what pay step you are on. If you remain a dispatcher you are just that a dispatcher. You can do training and other things for more money but you are still a dispatcher. That said there are a ton of other jobs within airlines and their command centers that need to be done by dispatchers or often are for convenience. There are a lot of different things you can do to mix it up while not changing your life around at all. Should you decide to you can go into management and that is entirely different career path that dispatch can help you get your foot in the door. Many people start and retire in dispatch. Many others use it to move into something else. Plenty of options

Bronze5Genji9 karma

If I'm in the air force, what previous experience do you look out for in New hires?

CaptRenault_649 karma

You either have to be an internal hire or have previous dispatching experience. Other then that nothing else is necessary. We have plenty of ex military and even currently military but they all either worked here before dispatch or dispatched at a regional for a year. There is no way around those options unfortunately regardless of experience.

Olimane9 karma

Has employment in dispatch bounced back since COVID-19? I have a friend who entered the field right before and of course as the newest hire, along with a bunch of older ones, got laid off early into the pandemic. He now works in coordinating private jets.

CaptRenault_6410 karma

Covid halted all hiring and had us offering retirement buy outs to get rid of some. Or numbers dropped but we started hiring again after about a year and we have hired well beyond what we had prior to Covid. Still hiring more. Can’t promise it will always be that way but the airline industry isn’t going to disappear so even if there is a lull it will pick up again with the economy. We were hit hard as a major and I know that regionals pulled some real dirty moves to stay afloat.

Coy_17 karma

What would I look for when choosing a school to do the course? Is their any certificates that I would want to get or extra training?

CaptRenault_649 karma

Anything that get you a license is enough. Sheffield is great but anything you don’t get from another school you will learn on the job nbd. I took the extra courses at Sheffield and I don’t feel like they were much use side from resume padding. Get the license and the job. Neither decision is going to make or break you so just go with what is cheap or convenient.

Coy_13 karma

Looking at Sheffield, how difficult is the course if you did it online ?

CaptRenault_645 karma

Couldn’t tell you. I did it all in person. That said they wouldn’t skimp on the education no matter the medium so I imagine it is equally difficult. Prob harder if you aren’t much for self motivation like myself.

risingstanding6 karma

Anything you can tell about UFOs or anything like that? Even if it's second-hand?

CaptRenault_646 karma

I have never heard anything significant from anyone. Most airspace is so heavily monitored so we are aware of drone activity and really anything else that is in the air.

debtitor5 karma

Does every office have a fly zapper? Just in case.

CaptRenault_645 karma

I am not sure I understand the question.

AdmiralBarackAdama5 karma

Sounds cool but I like to get high a lot, and I'm not above taking an edible at work. So in the interest of other people's lives, I will keep doing what I'm doing, but thanks for what you do!

Since I must ask a question: Can I do this job on cannabis?

CaptRenault_6418 karma

We are not allowed to use cannabis because it is federally illegal and we are licensed and regulated by the federal government. That may change as it has in other countries that have legalized but none for now.

mattsm085 karma

Any airlines have their headquarters based out of Phoenix,AZ? This seems like an amazing career. I'm currently In the financial industry and not happy. A lot of competition between companies and there's always another company paying an insane amount for the same work. The caveat being, the higher the wage, the less stable it is, as there is constant attrition. Everyone I know who jumped ship for another company paying higher wages for the same job is no longer working for that company, due to layoffs. Like everyone here I'd love higher wages and less stress. I just feel like I'm unsure of how successful I'll ever be. Working in the financial industry, only making just above 50k after 9 years is getting old real quick. Any other hidden gem careers? Or advice? Also, is it really never too late to start a new career path? 32 now.

CaptRenault_646 karma

So I don’t have any other hidden gems besides this one. There is a regional called Mesa in PHX but no majors. You could commute to American or Southwest in Dallas but that is your closest option. Regional work can be rocky but once you get on at a major things are very stable. Being union you will know the fate of every pay raise and bump in vacation everything. For better or for worse.

It isn’t just apply and it’s yours though. The process can be a bit daunting but I went from no license to mainline in 2 years. That isn’t uncommon either so it’s an option. Feel free to ask any questions!

mattsm082 karma

Wow thanks! Thats good to hear that it isn't uncommon for no license to mainline in 2 years. Gives me hope! Hehe. This has been a great ama to browse. I appreciate your time! Definitely has me doing some career change exploration.

CaptRenault_643 karma

Everyone’s path is different. I know some internals that applied a half dozen times. Most folks get reject a couple times and it always stings but as long as you don’t get discouraged and keep networking it’s very doable. Contact Mesa and see about doing a day in the field. You can see what it’s like and get first hand info from some other folks.

stevejobs45255 karma

Is it boring?

CaptRenault_6413 karma

You can have boring days but on the whole it is not boring. I enjoy what I do and when I do have boring days I just enjoy the fact that we are doing well and nothing is going wrong. Good things for the airline and for me. Busy days are more interesting but that typically means more delays and cancels and problems which means more unhappy customers. You can read a book, read online, practice a skill online, chat with friends, and plenty of other things. So if you are bored with work then you just need to find a way to spend your time. Some days you don’t have that freedom so enjoy it when you do.

the_ambassadork5 karma

Do you know of anyone who does dispatch part time? Since it’s shift work I wonder if there’s a possibility of reducing the amount of shifts worked or if that’s very rare.

CaptRenault_646 karma

So at a regional I doubt you can make that work. I don’t know of any part time dispatchers. Now at my major we can sell shifts. So you could sell a bunch of your shifts and only work part time. That would be expensive though. A topped out dispatcher can sell most everything and still make money but just starting out you are going to lose money.

NZvorno5 karma

What would a typical day be for you? Could you explain some of the work involved?

CaptRenault_644 karma

The text below is copy pasted from another comment of mine but there is also a lot of good information in a couple of my responses to u/ElHermanoLoco. Happy to elaborate on anything in particular!

I wander in to start my shift and take turnover from the dispatcher currently at the desk. There are flights that are in progress and some that are planned up and others untouched. The dispatcher there tells me what’s going on with weather, flights, maintenance, airports, whatever anything relevant to the operation of the desk. After that I take over and assume control of the desk. I am now responsible for the monitoring of these flights. I will keep an eye on things, communicate with crews, plan up later flights that don’t leave for a couple hours. I take phone calls from crews regarding the flight plans or we three way with maintenance to handle issues. I message crews enroute about weather, turbulence, destination conditions. It’s quite varied. Some days I could be getting bombarded with calls and messages because of weather and problems. Other days I may get next to nothing because everything is just running smoothly.

jeibel4 karma

Hi thanks for doing this AMA. I had read the original one and it made me think. I understand what you describe is very much unique to US federal regulation and labour market. Any idea how it is in the UK or Europe? Tales from the field?

CaptRenault_645 karma

So I know little to nothing about the process or the career outside of the US. I know that they have dispatchers and that their compensation isn’t quite as lucrative but that’s about it. In my dispatch license course there were a handful of foreign students intending to dispatch back in their countries so I assume some countries must accept US certification. Sorry I wish I could offer more information.

tivnan19894 karma

Why does Glassdoor say the average salary for a flight dispatcher is 50k? What you described as the job and what I looked at seems the same but maybe I’m looking at a different position or maybe you have a certification that pays you more?

CaptRenault_643 karma

So you are likely seeing the salary for a regional dispatcher. Their pay starts in the ~$40k range and tops out in the 80-90 range depending on where you are. It is the same job but wildly different compensation.

jradio3 karma

Can you work remotely?

CaptRenault_643 karma

While it may be possible from a technology standpoint it is not realistic nor beneficial unfortunately. We will be working in the office no matter what.

ApeMuffins3 karma

To accept a job where one would need to move, so the airlines take care of relocation costs? I’d imagine a regional vs major would be varied in that regard.

CaptRenault_644 karma

Unfortunately no. In this industry there is no relocation compensation regardless of where you go. Likely because technically you don’t need to relocate. You can live anywhere and commute.

Thegreatgarbo7 karma

You've mentioned commuting a couple of times wrt different cities. Does that mean living many hours drive, like more than 3 hours driving one way? And commuting somehow by plane or something? Or are you talking about the average longer commute like an hour one way.

CaptRenault_6411 karma

In the airline industry commuting refers to living in another city and flying in for work. So I would trade around my days so that I work a long stretch and then have a long stretch off. So I fly in stay at my crash pad or whatever living situation you work out and work for like two weeks but then I fly home and I’m off for a long stretch. We have commuter policies so that if flights are full or divert or whatever you don’t get in trouble as long as you make a decent effort to get to work. The way our schedules work you can do 18 days on and then take 12 off so you can spend a decent amount of time at home without having to move.

Jonisun3 karma

Is there any further progression from your current role?

CaptRenault_649 karma

There are plenty of options. You can ride it out here with the lax job. You can stay here and take on extra things like training and competency checks. You can also move into management. You can move into a more logistics based job. There are so many places to go and different jobs that benefit from dispatch knowledge.

Ralfy_P3 karma

What was the most exciting/ crazy day you ever had at work?

CaptRenault_6415 karma

I have had my fair share of regional days where I didn’t move from my desk for 10 hours because everything was on fire. Now I rarely encounter more than an hour or two of fairly busy regularly. Occasionally you have weird stuff happen because passengers do the craziest stuff. I had a drunk guy stand up and yell something and then attempt to pee in a bottle. He made a mess and had exposed himself in front of children. Gotta contact cleaning, arrival airport, EMS, law enforcement. Other than hearing about it and informing all relevant groups we don’t hear much more. Plenty of medical emergencies and various ailments. Most of the time we continue to destination unless the person needs swis serious medical care. Once I had a dog that had trouble breathing and the owner tried to steal our O2 tank. Nothing insane nor real exciting.

gabegom73 karma

Hi! Read through a lot and appreciate all your responses. I'm just wondering, how does getting days off in the case of sickness/etc work? Is it really strict? Also, how would you rate the stress of the job, can one still enjoy life?

CaptRenault_646 karma

So it will depend on the airline you work at. In my union under our CBA we accrue sick time for each day we work and we can save up thousands of hours of it to use as we need. Sick time is not an issue nor something that has ever concerned me. If I’m sick I call out.

The job is stress free 95% of the time. Regionals are more stressful because workload is high but at a major things are pretty chill. Now things heat up and you gotta put out some fires but then they typically die down again shortly after. I would consider this a low stress job. If I came in today with the intent to cause a crash or some other problem I would not be able to. We are another later of security and part of the checks and balances that keep the airline efficient and safe. If you mess up bad you or someone will catch it and you gotta fill out some oopsy paperwork. You can’t be fired for a mistake unless you purposefully did something illegal or unsafe. Accidental screw ups mean paperwork or potential extra training. We are responsible for a lot but if you came in and just did everything wrong you would just spend the whole day cleaning up after yourself. It is rarely stressful IMO.

dDogg323 karma

As a former Air Force 1C7 Airfield Management. Do you know how one get his foot in the door. Is going through the training and such the exact same?

CaptRenault_644 karma

Unfortunately the path will be the same as anyone else. Go for an internal transfer within an airline or do at least a year at a regional. The background and experience will serve you in interviews and applications for sure but there is no fast track it’s all seniority and paying dues on this road.

Enigma092 karma

Does it matter if I get my license in a different country, then get a job in the US?

CaptRenault_643 karma

If it is a USA FAA accredited aircraft dispatcher certification course then no. But, to my knowledge, I don’t think they offer FAA courses outside of the US. Or at least I don’t know why they would. Other countries have their own regulatory bodies and certification processes. That said I am not super familiar with dispatching outside of the US so take all that with a grain of salt.

littlefootrac2 karma

I heard from a very unreliable source that this profession has a high suicide rate, is that correct?

CaptRenault_649 karma

This is not correct at all. Sounds like an old wives tale about ATC. Great career with no increase suicidal tendencies.

littlefootrac2 karma

Also curious what is the difference between what you do and ATC?

CaptRenault_645 karma

So ATC works for the government to keep planes from hitting each other and guiding air traffic. I work for a private airline. I plan flights for safety and efficiency to save money and provide a smooth flight for passengers.

0xd0gf00d2 karma

If I don’t want to move away from a major city and work someplace new, is this still a job for me? Or should you be prepared to move to start afresh at a regional airport? This is considering that it is a city which has at least one regional airline based in it.

CaptRenault_643 karma

So the regional job is temporary. You could commute but with less freedom than at the majors it is harder. So for that part living there for a time may be needed. As for a major it depends on you. I wouldn’t want to commute but I know plenty that do it because they don’t want to live in a certain city. Most majors are in large metropolitan areas

umbrellagirl21852 karma

What school would you recommend for someone who prefers online learning?

CaptRenault_643 karma

That I can’t tell you. Sheffield in Florida is widely regarded as one of the best but also the hardest and often more expensive. It isn’t necessary to go there and no matter where you go you can succeed in this career. Your best bet is contacting specific schools to ask them about their programs. It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything related to dispatch school though I know online options exist.

Tulivesi2 karma

I've talked to a few people who work as ATC in my country and one thing that stuck out to me: apparently you can't work as ATC if you're taking/you've ever taken anti-depressants (or have other documented mental health issues, I assume). Is it the same with aircraft dispatch?

CaptRenault_642 karma

Nope! You can be on antidepressants with no issues here. If you use any mind altering narcotics even if they are your prescription and you test positive at work you can get in trouble though. Like post surgery I was given pain meds that I took for a few days but I had to switch back to regular ibuprofen when I returned to work even though I had good meds left because I could lose my job or my license operating under the influence. But meds like antidepressants are fine.

SprightlyCompanion2 karma

Do you know about the requirements/market in Canada? Are the conditions and pay comparable to the States?

CaptRenault_642 karma

I know the compensation is not nearly as good as in the states. Other than that I’m not familiar with much else.

toolemeister2 karma

Do you feel under threat from automation? From an outsider looking in it sounds like this sort of job will be under threat in future.

CaptRenault_642 karma

Here is a copy and paste from elsewhere in the comments:

Quite unlikely in our lifetimes. I can’t see the future but I have worked with the latest and greatest tech in this industry and it can’t do this job. It can help greatly. It will for sure lower the amount of dispatchers we need as we can handle a greater workload but we will not go anywhere. We are federally required along with the 2 pilots. The FAA doesn’t remove layers of safety from the equation unless they are completely uneccessary. We will have a single pilot cockpit before we lose the dispatcher IMO. The other part of it is that it has to be financially beneficial to replace us. We are well paid but we are also a very small work group relatively so making a big expensive program to replace us would not really offset much cost. An airline with 10,000 pilots still only has a few hundred dispatchers. Maybe one day but I don’t believe that anyone looking to get into this career has anything to worry about.

Manisonic2 karma

Is there a website or some way you can tell for sure if a program/course is accredited or not?

0xd0gf00d2 karma

How much competition is there for open positions? Also are there many open positions in this field?

CaptRenault_647 karma

You could get a job at a regional in no time. They hire very often and are not very picky. Mainline airlines typically hire 2ish classes a year although that can change depending on growth, economy, or various internal reasons. This year already my airline has had 2 full classes hired. Which added 60 people to the floor. People retire, departments grow, folks move into management, whatever. There are always positions opening up. It is still highly competitive at the majors but it is plenty doable.

How much competition? Hard to say exactly but anyone who knows about this career and wants in us going to apply. You hear through the grapevine about a partying going up next week. You plan ahead and when it opens you apply the moment it opens. If you apply the next day you are too late. Later that day you may still make the cut. The hardest part of the career by far is the competition for mainline jobs. You can also get a job at an airline and move over internally. Many people take that route so it is equally as competitive.

0xd0gf00d3 karma

Thanks for all this very useful information and for the AMA :)

CaptRenault_643 karma

You bet! Happy to help!

ughlump2 karma

So you can basically start at any age?

CaptRenault_643 karma

You can get your license at any age but you can’t actually begin dispatching in the US until you are 23. They may hire you at 22 if you will be 23 by the time you are out of training.

ughlump4 karma

I meant for those on the older side of things like 35-40 year olds. Usually a lot of people speak highly of certain careers but there is some ageism that makes it harder the older you are. Though I tend to think the age would be a benefit to a certain degree in this field.

CaptRenault_645 karma

I’m my initial class of 20 there were roughly 5 under 25. 10 25-40. And 5 40-55. No age is really out of place here. Very diverse work group in regards to age.

ughlump2 karma

Sounds excellent. Are there any particular tips or resources, that you could provide, that would help someone getting started?

CaptRenault_645 karma

So it’s not a career with a lot of information out there unfortunately. Your best bet is googling what information you can. You can also contact a local airline to see if they would offer you a day in the field opportunity to see what it’s like. But beyond that you’re kinda stuck until you invest a real chunk of change in the license. That will tell you exactly whether this is for you or not. I am happy to answer any questions I can to the best of my ability! That’s one of the reasons I’m doing this. It is hard to hear drop thousands on a license you don’t know you want. It’s hard to find real Information on the subject so I am happy to elaborate on anything!

MikeSelf2 karma

What is the craziest thing you've seen at work? Thank you for your time. Have a great week!!

CaptRenault_646 karma

I mean in the office I’ve seen a yelling match. But as far as out on the line I mention in another comment a few odd situations with passengers doing crazy stuff that I’ve been present for. I don’t actually see it I’m just there to notify different response groups. Another one I have wasn’t my flight but I was next to the dispatcher. It was a mx issue enroute where the brakes were showing that they were locked out. After talking with mx it was a 99% that it was an indication malfunction and that they would function properly. But if the indication was not malfunctioning then they were going to stop hard and fast and we were gonna be on the news. Declared emergency and they roll out the fire and emergency response trucks for the landing. We have pax brace for impact and of course it’s an indication failure lol so we land and life goes on. They did a bunch of paperwork detailed the incident and that’s that. Pretty anticlimactic lol which is a good thing of course!

MikeSelf4 karma

Lol!!! I'm seriously contemplating to become an aircraft dispatcher. After this graveyard shift I will look for more info about.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer! stay safe! : )

CaptRenault_643 karma

Happy to answer any other questions! The previous AMA also has a lot of good info!

double-xor2 karma

Any medical restrictions, like you can’t have epilepsy?

CaptRenault_642 karma

No medical restrictions. Even if you have something that is too severe which could prevent you from doing your yearly cockpit hours you can just do them in a simulator.

arshadhere2 karma

Runways and the area where planes operate is known for the presence of lead. How true is that? Have you experienced any kind of lead exposure?

CaptRenault_642 karma

That is not a concern I have ever been made aware of for us nor our crews. We have special procedures for ozone exposure limits and hazmat of all kinds but there are no issues with lead poisoning regarding aircrafts and runways that I’m aware of. Sounds like a word myth or a conspiracy IMO.

timberwolf01222 karma

What are your thoughts on the pile of garbage that was the movie “pushing tin”?

CaptRenault_641 karma

Ha I have never seen it. Am I missing out? Like so bad it is good?

sacrifarce2 karma

I see you said that some days are quiet and some busy. How often are days nonstop busy? How much downtime do you have on a typical day and how broken up is it? Do you sit with long stretches with nothing to do sometimes?

CaptRenault_642 karma

At a regional airline more often than you would like during the summer (thunderstorm season). At my major hardly ever. I’m the last year I’ve never been swamped for more than a few hours and that is pretty rare. On midnights we have 4 ish hours of down time. But during a typical shift it’s dependent on how you like to work. You can polish off an hours work and then you prob have 45 min before you need to hop on the next thing. You can break it up more if you want. Now you can’t just disappear for 45 min because part of the job is being there to answer messages and phones and monitor progress but it’s pretty low effort and you can entertain yourself at your desk however you want. On midnights you can straight disappear for a couple hours because there is literally nothing going on. Also depends on the day and the weather and the shift. Work is fairly consistent on the morning shifts. PMs slow a bit and midnights are quiet.

Note that this is only for one airline. I can’t tell you how life is at the others.

_errer1001_2 karma

How does one get started in this field?

CaptRenault_647 karma

Find a school, get a license, apply at a regional, work for a year, apply at a major …. Profit.

OrganicBenzene2 karma

What type of tools and resources do you use for weather and performance? AWC? What is your typical flow for planning a flight and evaluating weather?

CaptRenault_642 karma

Fusion is the main tracking/ weather program we use. Everything else is an in-house product. I mean I could blab out my mental flow but it would just be a mess of words without the ability to show you on a computer screen what is going on.

I_lenny_face_you2 karma

IIRC last time you said that working part time isn’t really an option (though maybe you were referring to the early years, I don’t remember that clearly). I noticed that this time you said that a person can probably work < 40 hours a week on average. Does that mean just slightly under 40 hours? I’d prefer to average somewhere around 20-32 hours (I could sometimes go higher).

CaptRenault_642 karma

I didn’t necessarily mean that you can choose how much you want to work. I was saying that most major airlines have a contract agreement with a schedule that averages less than 40 hour weeks. So a Mon-Fri 9-5er works ~22 days in a 30 day month where I would work ~18 days. Now I can sell days for cash and get more time off but that’s the trade off. There aren’t any official part time dispatcher jobs that I am aware of though.

Necromancer42762 karma

Any viability for such a career in the Cleveland area?

CaptRenault_642 karma

Mainline United in Chicago. Regional Republic in Indianapolis. Mainline UPS in Louisville. That’s all I know. Commuting is a decent option.

Autistocrat1 karma

Did you get to talk to the guy from four years ago who (edit: highjacked a plane and) did loopings and such? If yes, how was it?

CaptRenault_641 karma

He talked to ATC. I’m not ATC.

Autistocrat2 karma

Oh, I thought it was the same thing. What is the difference then?

CaptRenault_641 karma

I go in more depth on this in other comments but I work for an airline planning flights. ATC works for the government and keeps them from running into each other.

eutropy-2 karma

have you had any pilots suffer cardiac arrest either in-flight or adjacent to it recently?

CaptRenault_641 karma

Have never had anything like that happen. Hasn’t even happened while I was in the room. Best I can do is some food poisoning

Darcyjay_-7 karma

Do you stand to wipe or do you wipe sitting down?

CaptRenault_6414 karma

I am team bidet whenever possible.

Hazmater_of_fact-14 karma

Six figures, and you’re always stealing our planes, and delaying ahit because you’re inept?!

CaptRenault_648 karma

Really productive input. Thank you.