Freight is a nearly $900 billion a year industry, and you don’t need to drive a truck to get a piece of the action. As a freight dispatcher, you play a critical role in the shipping process by helping get trucks out for pickups and deliveries.
If you have the mind for it, being a dispatcher can be a lucrative career. It requires good attention to detail and an organized approach to be successful. If you think you’ve got what it takes, read on to find out how to get involved.
What Does a Freight Dispatcher Do?
Truck dispatchers communicate with freight carriers and tell them where they need to go when they need to be there, and what they need to pick up. They speak with shipping clients to ascertain details about the cargo, specify a pickup time, and work out special handling and delivery instructions.
Then, they set up routes (often referred to as shipping lanes) and coordinate with drivers to ensure the pickups and dropoffs occur without a hitch.
What Are Some Common Tasks?
You’ll perform various important tasks required for the efficient pickup, transport, and delivery of freight. Some of what you will be doing includes taking calls from clients who need freight hauled and relaying that info to drivers.
You’ll also be in charge of scheduling delivery times and dates while monitoring in-transit freight to ensure it’s delivered on time. Dispatchers often use specialized software to assist them in this endeavor. The software helps you map efficient transit routes and keep drivers updated on potential changes.
What Skills Are Required?
The job of a dispatcher is fast-paced, and the right skill set is essential for your success. If you’re not sure you have what it takes, try developing the following skills before applying for a freight dispatcher job.
A lot of dispatchers rely on mapping and scheduling software to assist them in their duties. Mapping programs, for example, can help you find the most efficient routes while avoiding possible delays.
Experience with the type of software that dispatchers use is a plus. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with appointment setting and calendar software.
Your ability to analyze a situation and solve any potential problems that arise is one of the most important skills you can have in this industry. In the fast-paced world of freight, things are constantly in motion, and problems can (and will) arise.
You will have to work around the schedules of several drivers, solve freight issues, and sometimes find alternate routes due to road conditions or accidents. Your analytical and problem-solving skills may be put to the test from time to time.
In performing your duties, you’re going to be interacting with a lot of different people. Some of these people will be in stressful situations themselves.
While you don’t need to be a master of etiquette and protocol, you do need solid interpersonal skills so you can communicate effectively.
Attention to Detail
If there’s any skill out there that needs to be exceptional for you to prosper as a truck dispatcher, it’s attention to detail. You will need solid organizational skills to be able to handle multiple tasks at the same time and still be able to afford the required attention to each.
How to Become a Freight Dispatcher in 2021
Shipping companies come in many sizes, from international companies with large fleets to small, local carriers with only a few trucks. Both types need skilled freight dispatchers to keep things moving.
As a dispatcher, you can choose to work directly for a shipping company or operate independently. Either way, the path to becoming a dispatcher is similar.
Complete Your Training
One of the great things about getting into the shipping business is that you don’t need an expensive four-year degree to get in the door. The minimum educational requirement for becoming a freight dispatcher is to receive your high school diploma or GED.
There are online truck dispatcher courses that can help introduce you to the kind of work you’ll be doing and what to expect. These courses can be invaluable for anyone looking to get into the industry without taking college courses.
Consider A Degree
As mentioned, a specialized degree is not necessary to obtain a freight dispatcher job. However, many freight companies prefer to hire candidates who have at least an AA degree in logistics, transportation, or something related.
Obtaining a degree can give you the edge over other candidates for the job. Additionally, a two-year degree can be used as a stepping stone to a four-year degree later on.
Gain Industry Experience
Working a job related to trucking, shipping and receiving, and freight hauling will help you gain experience in the industry. While you’re working, you’ll want to start learning local, state, and federal laws that apply to the business you’re in.
These laws govern things like weight limits, transportation, and various safety regulations – knowledge of which can come in handy when scheduling and handling other issues that pertain to freight.
Continue to Develop Your Skills
As you work, you’ll want to continue to develop your skills. Truck dispatch services require you to pay attention to detail and stay organized, but that’s not all. Much of your success will stem from your ability to communicate well.
You want your telecommunication, written communication, and personal communication skills to be just as sharp as your organizational skills. All of these are necessary to be successful as a truck dispatcher.
Get Your Career Started Today
A career as a freight dispatcher is fast-paced and rewarding. If you’re someone who has great attention to detail and the required organizational and technical skills (or is willing to learn them), then this job may be for you.
If you would like to learn more about how you can become a truck dispatcher and get your piece of the nearly $900 billion a year pie, contact us today.