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What does a truck dispatcheing do?
A truck dispatcher is a middleman between a broker and a truck driver. They manage many aspects of the logistics business on behalf of their client, the carrier truck driver
What are the actual responsibilities involved in the day-to-day of a truck dispatcher?
Some of the responsibilities Truck Dispatcher can include:
- Use load boards and personal connections to locate freight that matches drivers needs
- Coordinate with brokers about driver status updates and eta’s
- Relay pick-up and delivery information to truck drivers
- Map transport routes using specialized software
- Maintain communication with drivers during cargo transit
- Schedule cargo pick-up and delivery
- Monitor transport of cargo to ensure delivery timeliness
- Conduct negotiations
- Record and document freight orders
- Resolve billing issues, document transactions, review truck drivers’ logs
- Dispatch drivers
- Track drivers logbook hours
Truck Dispatching Or Freight Brokers: Which Is Which
Another helpful way to think about truck dispatching is to know what is not involved. Truck dispatchers are not freight brokers. These are two separate roles.
Freight brokers are legal entities that work between two parties: shippers and/or manufacturers that need their freight shipped, and carriers that move freight. While freight brokers are legally allowed to represent those two parties, they should not have a personal stake in either one.
This is where the difference between freight brokers and truck dispatchers is clear.
Truck dispatchers or dispatch services for owner-operators can have that direct affiliation with a carrier and in fact are working to support them. Even as a freelance truck dispatchers or independent workers, they are functioning as an employee of that carrier by conducting negotiations on their behalf and handling backlog.
What Is A Load Board For Truck Dispatchers
Before we go much further, it’s essential to understand what a load board is.
Often either digital matching systems or online marketplaces, load boards designed to help shippers and freight brokers find carriers for their loads while also helping carriers to find additional loads to keep their trucks full and maximize their earnings. The most familiar load boards used in the market are the DAT and TruckStop load boards. Some big brokers also have their own load boards Uber.
How Much Truck Dispatchers Earn Each Year
Like any profession, what truck dispatchers can earn in a year depends on variables including professional experience, hours worked, and their professional network. Certain agencies reward highly experienced truck dispatchers with higher salaries.
Likewise, a truck dispatcher who stays with the same truck dispatch company for a number of years can obtain a higher income, either through promotions or planned salary increases.
The location of the truck dispatcher influences the amount earned in a few ways. Certain cities and states have a higher volume of traffic, creating a more demanding job that is better compensated. If the truck dispatcher for semi-trucks is working remotely, they may choose to work in a state with different tax laws, allowing for a higher take-home pay.
The Steps To Becoming A Truck Dispatcher
It’s possible to start your career as a truck dispatcher from your own home.
Depending on your level of education, you may already have the necessary prerequisites. The next steps include building your qualifications, improving your profile, and applying for your first job as a truck dispatcher.
These five steps will help you feel confident as you get started on your new career.
1. Have The Necessary Education and Truck Dispatch Training
It is highly recommended that a truck dispatcher have a high school diploma or GED (high school equivalency). There are also a number of truck dispatching courses available online. The most highly acclaimed and recommend course is TruckDispatcherTraining.com. They provide an intensive, 4-week online program that teaches you how to dispatch trucks without previous knowledge, how to start a dispatch company, and how to find carriers to dispatch.
Guided by experienced instructors, these courses will expose you to more of the daily responsibilities and techniques required for truck dispatching. Especially as you look to stand out amongst other candidates, they can provide a necessary edge.
2. Additional Education
Truck dispatching is a multidisciplinary profession that deals with logistics, transportation, and shipping. Associate’s degrees in one of these related fields will also help to give you an advantage over other applicants.
These degrees can be obtained in just two years at community colleges and technical schools, often with schedules that are convenient for students with other professional or personal commitments. Depending on your interest level, an associate’s degree can also position you as much as halfway toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree. However, this is not a requirement, and you can become a truck dispatcher without higher-level of education.
3. Start Gaining Experience As Truck Dispatcher
There are two types of experience a truck dispatcher needs to gain to build a strong career. The first is relevant industry experience, which can be earned through working in roles in trucking, freight hauling, shipping, and others.
You can do this by reaching out to truck dispatch companies and asking to shadow experienced dispatchers for free. You can also go through the Truck Dispatcher Training Course and learn everything you need through step-by-step training on how to make live calls using load boards. The other type of experience is about the rules and regulations governing the industry, which can be learned on the job or through research. Understanding local, state, and federal laws about freight transportation, driver & load safety, weight limits will allow you to effectively manage any scheduling and freight issues you come across.
4. Develop Your Skill Set
Being a truck dispatcher involves paying close attention to details and communicating regularly. To start, that means developing a way to keep records, document communications (phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.), and schedules organized.
From there, it’s establishing a periodic review of communication documents to see how to improve these processes. By improving telecommunication and written skills, the truck dispatcher becomes more valuable to their agency, helping to lead toward more jobs and a higher salary. Similarly, mastering the dispatching and telecommunications equipment likely to be used by a prospective agency will make the job application process that much simpler.
5. Getting Ready To Apply For A Job
One method to ensure you’re ready and competitive is to reach out for informational interviews. Here, one can ask questions about the work environment, schedule, and as mentioned in the previous bullet point, technology often used.
This type of interview not only leads to a warm connection that can make a candidate the first call when a job opening is posted, but it can give insight into what skills need to be developed to become the best possible candidate.
What Working As A Truck Dispatcher Is Like
Truck dispatchers can work in both central locations, like a company’s office, or remote locations, including their homes. As truck dispatchers are often handling multiple trucks and connecting clients with drivers, the workday is consistently busy.
In addition to communication between the dispatcher and the drivers and updates on shipping times, a dispatcher spends a significant amount of time negotiating transport rates between suppliers and vendors.
As another responsibility for truck dispatchers is finding cost-effective solutions for deliveries, time not spent negotiating is often spent using mapping and routing software to find the fastest and/or most cost-effective route for their drivers.
Because of the demanding nature of being a truck dispatcher, one can expect to be regularly seated or standing at a desk while using a computer and phone.
The Skills A Truck Dispatcher Must Have
Finding success as a truck dispatcher means developing and improving a combination of soft and hard skills, including proficiencies related to interpersonal communication, technical skills, and attention to detail, among others.
Here we’ll expand on a few key skills to demonstrate how they come into play during the day-to-day as a truck dispatcher and how they can be improved upon over time.
Though called people skills, these interpersonal skills include developing your ability to communicate, empathize, and work within a team. Given a good portion of each day is spent negotiating with suppliers and keeping in touch with truck drivers, being able to lead with positivity is critical.
There are many ways to improve these skills, including learning how to listen better, respect cultural differences, and sharing appreciation.
When not on the phone negotiating or providing updates, truck dispatchers are using their computers and cell phones to perform their jobs. This includes using mapping and scheduling software and applications to create efficient, cost-effective routes for drivers. Mastering the regular use of applications to help with organization and cost management, as well as maintaining records for pickups, deliveries, and in-transit cargo, is essential to job performance.
Improving technical skills and computer skills for truck dispatchers can include finding online courses for specific software or applications, speaking with experienced truck dispatchers about their techniques, and reading books on best practices.
Organization and detail
Given the quantity of information a truck dispatcher must organize every day, paying attention to detail is critical to their success. In addition to being able to take in information from multiple different sources about multiple different projects while staying organized, prioritizing those tasks is important. As an example, a supplier may be demanding an update on a price negotiation, but a truck driver in the middle of a delivery may need updated information on a route that could cut down hours from a delivery.
A regular review of one’s processes can lead to improvement. Spending an extra half-hour at the end of the day to understand what went well, what didn’t go well, and what could be improved for the next day will lead to a stronger ability to prioritize and make decisions in the moment.
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