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What does an Aircraft Dispatcher do?


That guy with the cones? The gal who clears the plane for takeoff? The dude who drives the little tug thingy?!? Since Aircraft Dispatchers work behind the scenes many people do not know or have misconceptions about what an Aircraft Dispatcher actually does. Even though the job of an Aircraft Dispatcher is a rewarding one, it is a job many people have never heard of. So, let’s identify what it is an Aircraft Dispatcher actually does. (You can put those cones away now.) The responsibilities vary from airline to airline, but are generally broken down into two main categories:

Flight Planning

  • Route of flight

  • Fuel Planning

  • Weight and Balance

  • Weather Interpretation

  • Aircraft Performance Computation

  • Coordination with Air Traffic Control

Flight Following

  • Weather updates

  • Air traffic status updates

  • Emergency assistance

As an Aircraft Dispatcher you are the unseen architect of each flight. You share equal authority over each individual flight with the airline captains. In addition to planning the details of the flight dispatchers remain in communication with the pilots until the flight lands safely. If there is an issue enroute, the captain will be depending on you for information relating to mechanical issues with the aircraft, weather changes enroute, airline protocol and regulations and above all else: the plan. The environment for Aircraft Dispatchers is fast paced and ever changing. We are always prepared with a plan B. When plan B fails, we are prepared with plans C, D and E as well. We do whatever it takes to get the job done safely.

Become an FAA-Certified Aircraft Dispatcher in 4 1/2 Steps!

Step 1: Choose the best school for you!

Obviously we think we are great (and we have the reviews to back it up) but if you want to shop around, a complete list of FAA approved schools can be found on: Click on Approved Courses for Part 65 Aircraft Dispatcher Certification (PDF).

Step 2: Get registered for your class!

Click here to choose a class date that best suits your schedule.

Step 3: Study hard!

Work hard in class and listen to your experienced instructors who know what it takes to pass the written and practical tests! ADTC begins to alert students to available jobs and encourages students to begin applying during step 3!

Step 4: Pass those tests!

Upon successful completion of your final test you will have earned your FAA Aircraft Dispatcher Certificate! Your examiner will immediately issue you a temporary airmen certificate which is valid for 120 days.

​Step 4 1/2: Wait!

Your permanent certificate will arrive by mail. You are able to seek employment and begin working with your temporary certificate during those first 120 days.

​Aircraft Dispatcher Pay and Benefits


​​Aircraft Dispatcher Pay can be all over the place depending on your career track.

Part 121 Regional

  • FAA Dispatcher License Required, no experience required.

  • Typical hourly pay is starting around $19 to $22 or so. This comes out to $39,520 to $45,760 per year, before overtime or holiday or the bonuses that most offer.

  • Jumpseat privileges.

  • Excellent resume builder...most dispatchers work here for about two years.

Part 121 Mainline

  • FAA Dispatcher License Required, usually with prior part 121 regional experience required, or as an internal candidate.

  • Typically salaried from $55,000 to $180,000, before overtime, holiday, and many other bonuses offered.

  • Jumpseat privileges.

  • Career job.

Part 135 Charter & etc

  • FAA Dispatcher License normally required by the company, but not always. Often no prior experience needed, although some do require 1-2 years.

  • Pay can be all over the place. Typical salary range includes $50,000 to $80,000.

  • Usually no jumpseat privileges.

  • Some companies also run Part 121 operations.

  • Career job.


Aircraft Dispatchers  have access to the excellent benefits major airlines have to offer. These vary from airline to airline, but typically include free or reduced rate flight benefits for friends and family. In addition, part of being a dispatcher means you are required to spend five hours per year riding in the cockpit of one of the types of aircraft you dispatch. This privilege may also be used beyond the five hours required to fly for free.

Other benefits may include:

  • Medical

  • Vision

  • Dental

  • Life Insurance

  • Longterm Disability Insurance

  • Healthcare Spending Account

  • 401(k) plans

  • Profit Sharing

  • Stock Purchases

  • Airline Credit Unions

  • and more...

Hiring Prospects


It is the aviation industry, subject to the many ups and downs of said industry. Closely tied to the global economy, as many economies grow, aviation is often one of the fastest growing as people begin to travel more. Unfortunately it is also very vulnerable to impacts from events such as 9/11, the 2008 recession, and recently COVID-19. Despite this, long term the industry is strong, as more and more people take to the skies so does the airline's needs for professional dispatchers.

Part 121 Mainline

The majors are hiring a lot in 2023. Travel demand has largely recovered from COVID impacts in 2020/2021.

Part 121 Regionals

Regionals have a high turnover rate (average employee stays about 2 years) as they are a stepping stone in your career. Again many are hiring now.

Part 135 Charter and etc

These operators vary a great deal depending on the industry they are in.

Unfortunately we can't guarantee you a job. What we can do is give you the best dispatcher training out there. Our results can speak for themselves. Not only do we notify our students of job openings, but will go over your resume with you, as well as our interview and test prep course. Your dispatcher license does not expire, however if your knowledge is not used it is easy to forget things. We want our students to succeed, that is why not only is it free, but we encourage students to return and sharpen up prior to an interview or job opening. This is a benefit unmatched in the industry by ADTC.

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