Becoming an Aircraft Dispatcher

The field of aviation is both highly competitive and highly technical, making it the perfect career choice for individuals who want to work hard and take on a lot of responsibility. Often airline pilots receive all the glory, but there are plenty of behind-the-scenes jobs that require just as much, if not more, training in order to have the knowledge needed to keep planes in the air. Aircraft dispatchers work directly with pilots to get flights to their destinations on time and safely. Following multiple flights at the same time takes a lot of skill and multitasking that is learned through extensive training and licensing programs.

Entry Level Jobs

Although experience with airplanes and flight planning is not required by the Federal Aviation Administration before training to become a dispatcher, many people start at the very bottom and work their way up through the ranks until they decide to commence certification training. Some of the entry-level jobs in the aviation industry that may be good, but are NOT required, for those looking to become a dispatcher include:

  • Assistant Dispatcher or flight follower
  • Meteorologist
  • Station manager
  • Ramp control

These positions can provide hands-on training and knowledge that benefits future dispatch training. A high school degree is often required and a college degree or further education may be helpful as well, if eventually pursuing a managerial position.

Technical Knowledge

Before you jump into a training program, it is may be beneficial that you take the time to learn technical knowledge at your entry level job. By observing those around you and asking for assistance, you can learn how to interpret a Notice to Airmen or make the calculations for weight and fuel required for takeoffs and landings. All of this type of information is basic knowledge that prepares you for an intense training program. Just because you are starting out at the bottom does not mean that you can’t get ready to work your way to the top. But please note that many aircraft dispatcher students come in ‘fresh off the street’, after asking and receiving suggested reading material or lists of typical dispatcher questions and answers, then familiarize themselves with enough material to at least feel more comfortable understanding the profession and entering training.

Complete a Dispatcher Training Program

Aircraft dispatcher training courses require 200 hours of training that can last anywhere from two to six weeks. There are many independent businesses that offer training programs for individuals who want to complete their training as quickly as possible. Do plenty of research before selecting a school, as some has good reputations and others have poor reputations. All programs are supposed to include the following information:

  • Meteorology
  • Navigation and Air Traffic Control
  • Flight planning
  • Regulations
  • Communication protocol & Decision-making
  • Aircraft systems and limitations

Training to become a dispatcher is rigorous and students need as much ground-based training as the pilots that fly the planes they will be monitoring.

Pass the FAA Practical Examination

The FAA, usually through the use of DADEs (Designated Aircraft Dispatcher Examiners) provides certification testing in locations around the country, but it must be taken within 90 days of the completion of a training course. The testing is intensive and consists of two parts. The first part is a flight planning exercise that should last 2-3 hours. The second part is a oral exam that should last around 2 hours. A person taking the test has to be able to demonstrate mastery of the following skills including:

  • In-flight practices
  • Pre- and post-flight procedures
  • Flight planning
  • Landing regulations
  • Emergency protocol
  • Flight planning

While the training to become an aircraft dispatcher is not easy, it is a career path that is very beneficial for those who choose to follow it.

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    “This school came highly recommended by multiple past students and EVEN OTHERS FROM OTHER SCHOOLS. Reputation is fantastic from multiple companies that I have worked for.” A. – September 2020
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    “As a graduate of the aircraft dispatcher program at the Sheffield School of Aeronautics…My training was intense and thorough and furnished me with the requisite skills for performing my current job as a Flight Dispatch Supervisor.” N.S. Sidebar NS
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    Good afternoon Eric, I wanted to reach out to let you know that training at (airline) is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier that I chose Sheffield. My classmates, while very smart, definitely had subpar training and that has been very evident. I have waited to write a full scale review of the […] Attending Sheffield School benefits airline new hires in preparation for airline training
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    “I am a graduate of the Sheffield’s Dispatcher Program. I have been a Captain-Part 121 Airline, Certified Flight/Grnd Instructor, and FAA Designated Check Airman and Sim Instructor (Part 121). From my experience I would rate Sheffield School as outstanding in their field.” PT PT
    “Eric Morris is one of the most if not the most knowledgeable and experienced authorities on Aircraft Dispatching in the United States. He strives constantly to make the industry better.” DH sidebar DH
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