Become an Aircraft Dispatcher


Aircraft Dispatcher Delta OCC

Sheffield graduate Kerry Jones at work in the Delta Ops Center

As the oldest aircraft dispatcher school in the country, we know a thing or two about getting your aircraft dispatcher license and what to expect in the dispatcher career field. An FAA licensed aircraft dispatcher can be described as “the captain on the ground.” When you become an aircraft dispatcher, you will find yourself in one of the most important jobs at an airline. While the pilot is responsible for his or her one particular flight, the aircraft dispatcher is responsible for multiple flights at the same time.

photo of an aircraft dispatcher infographic

Aircraft Dispatcher Job Description

If you are interested in flight dispatcher training, you should know exactly what a flight dispatcher career entails. The aircraft dispatcher shares responsibility for the flight with the captain. Both are required to sign the Dispatch Release before the flight can legally operate.

The dispatcher is responsible for planning the flight. They will take into consideration the weather, any maintenance problems on the aircraft, navigational facilities at the appropriate airports, Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS), and alternate airport options. They will also exercise flight following while the flight is in progress and maintain communication with their flights. If there are any significant changes that would affect the safety of the flight, dispatchers will be the ones who are responsible for notifying the captain. The aircraft dispatcher will delay or cancel a flight when necessary and make any other operational decisions required to ensure the safety of the flight.

Most airlines will have a centrally located dispatch office that controls all flights of that particular airline. As an example, United Airlines has a dispatch office is in Chicago, Delta Air Lines has an office in Atlanta, and Endeavor Air is in Minneapolis. The dispatch department has historically been one of the best places in the airlines for promotions. The department has control over the operations of the airline, and consequently, you are generally in close contact with the senior officers of the company. The dispatcher has always been an important individual in the operation of an airline and will certainly continue to be so in the future.


What Qualifications Do You Need to Become an Aircraft Dispatcher?

First and foremost, a dispatcher must obtain a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aircraft Dispatcher Certificate. To qualify for this certificate, one must be at least 23 years old, hold a high school diploma or equivalent, and pass a written and practical exam. The written exam covers a wide range of topics, including meteorology, aircraft systems, air traffic control procedures, and flight planning. 

Along with the certification, you will need a deep understanding of aviation regulations and safety procedures is essential. Dispatchers must be able to make informed decisions to ensure the safety of both passengers and crew. Additionally, strong communication skills are crucial for liaising with pilots, air traffic control, and other airline personnel. 

How Hard Is It to Be a Flight Dispatcher?

Becoming a flight dispatcher is no walk in the park; it’s a demanding and high-pressure profession. As an aircraft dispatch expert, we’re aware of the various challenges associated with this work field. Flight dispatchers are the unseen heroes behind the scenes, responsible for making critical decisions that affect the safety and efficiency of airline operations. Dispatchers must meticulously analyze weather patterns, flight routes, and aircraft performance data to make real-time decisions. They need to anticipate and react to changing conditions, ensuring that flights are safe and on schedule. This requires an in-depth knowledge of meteorology, aviation regulations, and aircraft systems. 

How Long Is Aircraft Dispatch School?

Aircraft dispatch school typically lasts for about 4 to 6 months. During this comprehensive training program, aspiring dispatchers are immersed in a rigorous curriculum that covers a wide range of topics essential to the profession. These include meteorology, air traffic control procedures, aircraft systems, navigation, regulations, and flight planning. The duration may vary slightly depending on the specific school or program, as some institutions offer more extensive coursework or additional certification options. However, the FAA mandates a minimum of 200 hours of classroom instruction, which serves as a foundational requirement for all programs. After completing these courses, students will be ready for different aircraft dispatcher careers. 

How Much Does Aircraft Dispatch Academy School Cost?

On average, you can expect to invest anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 for tuition and course materials. However, the cost of attending an aircraft dispatch academy can vary widely depending on several factors, including the institution, the location, and what the specific program offers. For example, an online dispatcher school will be charged differently than other courses. We recommend that you speak with our professionals to get a better idea of what you could expect when the time comes to train for flight dispatcher jobs. 



A view inside Endeavor Air's Operational Control Center

A view inside Endeavor Air’s Operational Control Center

Benefits of An Aircraft Dispatcher Career

It is well known that employees of airlines receive significant benefits. Aircraft dispatchers get many of those benefits as well. Typically, dispatchers have world-wide flight privileges for not only themselves but family members as well. Additionally, something most people do not experience is the ability to ride in the cockpit jump seat, a seat for authorized individuals who are not taking part in operation of the aircraft. Below you’ll find many of the common benefits you can receive when you become an aircraft dispatcher.

(These benefits can vary, but the list below covers many common perks.)

  • Cockpit jump seat authority
  • Reduced-rates or free travel privileges
  • Life/health/dental/disability insurance
  • Hotel discounts
  • Paid/discounted holidays/vacations
  • Retirement plans
  • Rental car discounts
  • Cruise line discounts
  • Savings/credit unions
  • Stock purchase options

Our aeronautics school can help you become an aircraft dispatcher. For more information our dispatcher programs or if you would like to speak with a Sheffield School of Aeronautics administrator, contact us at +1 954-581-6022


A view inside Endeavor Air's Operational Control Center Aircraft dispatcher desk

The Airline Dispatcher’s typical view

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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
    “I wanted to tell you I got the job offer from Expressjet, and start next month! I think a couple others from class were hired as well. It just shows the Sheffield reputation when I see graduates from other schools complaining that they can’t get an interview – I wasn’t even back home to Minneapolis […] Dan Gustafson
    “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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    “Going to Sheffield prepared me for the real world challenges of Aircraft Dispatching. I certainly believe that the method Sheffield used is one not only for success in a real world career, but also one that prepares students to correctly dispatch aircraft.” T.Z. Sidebar TZ
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