How Do I Become an Airline Dispatcher?

Marlene Garcia

To become an airline dispatcher, a person must pass knowledge and practical tests designed by agencies that oversee the airline industry. He or she must earn certification before working at an airport. Knowledge of aviation rules that govern aircraft on the ground and in the air must be shown before a person can become an airline dispatcher. Airlines might impose minimum age requirements on employees and require graduation from secondary school or a college degree.

An airline dispatcher uses weather information, including headwinds and tailwinds, to determine if a flight schedule will be affected.
An airline dispatcher uses weather information, including headwinds and tailwinds, to determine if a flight schedule will be affected.

Aviation schools prepare candidates to become an airline dispatcher. These courses typically include classes on meteorology, because dispatchers analyze weather patterns as part of the job. Experience in an airport control center is usually required to become an airline dispatcher, and might be gained working as a clerk, radio operator, or junior aircraft dispatcher.

An airline dispatcher must understand the operational requirements of the aircraft they route.
An airline dispatcher must understand the operational requirements of the aircraft they route.

Airline dispatchers work with airplane captains to devise flight plans aimed at keeping flights on schedule, safe, and free from unnecessary expense to the airline company. They use weather information to determine whether headwinds or tailwinds might affect schedules. Dispatchers also consider altitudes and other air traffic along the route. This information helps dispatchers determine fuel needs, cruising speeds, and optimum altitudes for different types of aircraft.

A person who wants to become an airline dispatcher might study the weight of various airplanes and become familiar with preferred air routes that conserve fuel and keep the flight on schedule. In cooperation with the captain, the route, speed, or altitude might require revision while the plane is in flight. If a medical emergency or mechanical malfunction occurs, the dispatcher devises a plan to divert the flight.

To become an airline dispatcher, a person needs good hearing, eyesight, and clear speaking abilities. He or she must keep an eye on all flights in the air and maintain contact with pilots. Communication with the ground crew about arrival time is also part of the job. An airline dispatcher uses computers to calculate how weather and air traffic might affect each aircraft.

Dispatchers often work in noisy operation centers with many distractions. The job might produce stress, especially when bad weather delays or grounds flights. Weather conditions might require changing flight plans to detour certain planes from normal routes while adhering to laws that regulate the airline industry.

Someone who wants to become an airline dispatcher should investigate where job openings exist. Commercial passenger airline companies and cargo transportation firms hire airline dispatchers. Updating a resume and polishing interview skills might help a person become an airline dispatcher, along with learning airport codes used in the job.

An airline dispatcher helps a plane's captain bring the flight in safely during an emergency.
An airline dispatcher helps a plane's captain bring the flight in safely during an emergency.

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