how to become a dispatcher

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how to become a dispatcher

How to Become an Aircraft Dispatcher: From Start to Finish
If you need a little inspiration and more details about what exactly an aircraft dispatcher does, read Sheffield’s article “Unsung Heroes of the Sky – Aircraft Dispatching and Who to Thank for a Safe Flight”; it’s a great place to start. This guide is perfect for anyone who wants to learn about aircraft dispatching, no matter how much or how little you already know about the crucial career for airlines.

Sheffield School of Aeronautics breaks the process down into eight sections to cover the entire process from start (what to consider before taking the aircraft dispatcher course) to finish (finding a job and recommendations).

Is a Career in Aircraft Dispatching Right for Me?

We have compiled a list of personality traits that good aircraft dispatchers have:

Effective Communication Skills


Thoughtful Consideration

Meticulous Personality
Are you in it for the long haul? Though many Sheffield graduates thrive in the industry and choose to pursue a full-time career as an aircraft dispatcher, there are no rules that say once you complete the aircraft dispatcher training, you cannot change positions or career paths. One of the benefits of working in the aviation industry is the loyalty, community, and opportunity to move into another position if you choose to later on.

Basic Requirements to Attend Aircraft Dispatcher School

Before you begin your aircraft dispatcher training, you must meet these basic requirements:

Proficiency and fluency in English (required for all aircraft dispatchers).
International students are required to complete the Flight Operations Management level one course, or take a bypass exam.
Applicants under the age of 21 are not eligible for the aircraft dispatcher course.
Minimum high school education or international equivalent.
What is not required to begin your aircraft dispatcher training:

No higher education degree required.
No experience or background in aviation required.
You can read more aircraft dispatcher course requirements here.

What You Will Need Before Aircraft Dispatcher Course

We tell all prospective students to refrain from studying anything before the aircraft dispatcher training begins. Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Students need to have the right instruction and guidance when learning the material. Sheffield School of Aeronautics is the most reputable and highly regarded aircraft dispatching school; we will train you, you don’t have to do any learning before you arrive.

Sheffield School of Aeronautics’ aircraft dispatcher courses are varied. The full course is 5 weeks long, then 3 weeks, then 2 weeks, followed by the shortest duration, the online aircraft dispatch course with 1 week residency. For a full aircraft dispatch course description, visit the Sheffield website.

Classroom vs. Online Aircraft Dispatcher Course

Aircraft dispatcher training is intensive and requires diligence. We recommend the 5-week, in classroom course to everyone, but there are exceptions.

If you have taken the course before, qualify for accelerated instruction; or, if you are having difficulty spending 5 weeks at our school, then the shorter options and online classes are another option. Speak with a Sheffield instructor to discuss your options.

If you want to guarantee your success in the online aircraft dispatcher course, follow these tips:

Communicate with instructors effectively and often.

Create and stick to a learning schedule.

Stay organized and create a workspace.

Ask for help if you need it (that includes support from friends and family).
Accredited and Approved Aircraft Dispatcher Schools

Do not enroll aircraft dispatcher schools that have 100% pass rate; you will not get very far after “graduation” because you won’t be prepared for your job.

Sheffield has developed a reputation as the best aircraft dispatcher school because we believe in teaching the best. Our direct partnerships with airlines like Southwest and Delta are a testament to our commitment to the standards of the industry.

Sheffield graduates get jobs and move up faster because our aircraft dispatcher training prepares them for all of the challenges they will face in their careers. Our graduates graduate because they studied and deserved it, students who do not work hard to earn the certification and pass the exams, will not graduate and would not be successful in the field.

The FAA Aircraft Dispatcher (ADX) Exam

The ADX Exam is administered at FAA approved locations. Sheffield is an approved location, and we administer tests to our graduates on the school grounds.

Students must score 70% or better on an 80-question, multiple choice exam. Students who fail are given the opportunity to retake the test after a 30-day waiting period.

The ADX exam is not easy, and it is recommended that you study as much as possible during the course. Sheffield instructors recommend partnering with other classmates and forming study groups to remain focused and assist one another.

Finding an Aircraft Dispatcher Job

All Sheffield School of Aeronautics graduates are given access to an exclusive job posting board on the Sheffield website. Our school has built strong relationships in the aviation community and with major airlines, which is good news for our graduates. Graduates have access to this aircraft dispatcher job board for life.

911 Dispatcher Careers

Located in more than 6,000 Public Safety Answering Points nationwide, 911 dispatchers form the vital link between callers in distress and emergency response teams. Through efficient assessment and call handling, 911 dispatchers reduce response times and help save lives. Find out what it takes to become a 911 operator where you live.

Steps to Becoming a 911 Dispatcher
What is 911 and What is a 911 Dispatcher? – 911 is the national number in the United States to dial when emergency help is needed, and 911 dispatchers are the people who take those calls and send fire, police, or ambulance services where needed. Dispatchers are specially trained in crisis communication skills to stay calm while collecting and communicating critical information to victims and first responders.

911 dispatchers serve as the critical link between people in distress and the emergency services they need at a moment’s notice to protect life and property. From small towns to major cities, both first responders and the community at large rely on skilled 911 dispatchers with the training to remain calm under pressure and skillfully gather and convey the key pieces of information that police, fire and EMS need to be ready when they arrive on scene.

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Emergency dispatchers know that the more information first responders have when they arrive on the scene, the quicker they can assess a situation and take action. They also know that seconds can be the difference between life and death. 911 dispatchers that are composed and mentally present help maximize the speed of the entire dispatch process, reducing response times and saving lives.

The National 911 Office oversees America’s 911 emergency response system, but the public safety answering points (PSAP) organized at the municipal and county level within each state have the final say on basic qualifications, experience prerequisites and training requirements for new recruits. This means the police departments, sheriffs’ offices, fire departments or combined emergency dispatch centers that hire 911 dispatchers make the final call on everything from background restrictions for prospective candidates, to the level of CPR training required of new hires.

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Learning how to become a 911 dispatcher starts with a specific plan of action:

Step 1. Prepare for Employment
Becoming a 911 operator involves preparing for employment by meeting minimum requirements, which usually involves being at least 18 years old and possessing a high school diploma or GED. Some agencies require candidates to also possess a valid driver’s license.
Many individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in emergency dispatch choose to complete a college program in a closely related field. A degree program can provide considerable knowledge of the criminal justice system, communications, emergency management, and public safety protocols – all of which are highly relevant to working as a 911 dispatcher.

For individuals with aspirations of advancing in the field of emergency communications, a college degree may better facilitate career advancement. In addition, many agencies accept a formal educational program as a substitution for experience, on a year-by-year basis, thereby allowing many individuals to advance at a faster pace into supervisory positions, or even qualify for entry-level jobs that stipulate experience requirements.

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Areas of study that are most often recognized in this profession include:

Emergency Management
Homeland Security
Public Safety
Criminal Justice

Step 2. Identify 911 Dispatcher Employers
One of the best ways for individuals to locate 911 dispatchers is to find the state’s public safety answering points (PSAPs), which are defined as primary points of contact for individuals who dial 911. In addition to primary PSAPs, there may also be a number of professional opportunities throughout a state’s secondary PSAPs, centers to which calls are transferred after being received at the primary PSAP.

The FCC maintains a master list of PSAPs located throughout the country for easy reference.

PSAPs may be found at dedicated call centers, police stations, fire departments, and public safety departments. Depending on the state in which the PSAP is located, it may be organized at the county level or the city level, and in many states, PSAPs represent a coordinated effort between a number of counties, cities, towns or municipalities.

Step 3. Identify Job Duties and Understand Essential Skills
Although 911 is a universal system throughout the United States, the job duties of 911 dispatchers may differ, depending on the PSAP they work for. Some PSAPs hire both call takes and dispatchers, with these two professions requiring their own set of job duties.
Before applying to become a 911 dispatcher, it is important to carefully review the specific job duties of the position, which may be found on the PSAP’s website or through a formal job posting.

The general job duties of a 911 dispatcher include:

Questioning callers to determine their location and the nature of the emergency
Receiving incoming telephone calls regarding fire, police and emergency medical services
Determining response requirements and placing priorities on situations
Recording details of all calls, dispatches and messages
Retrieving and entering data from teletype networks and computerized data systems
Contacting emergency response field units to determine their availability for dispatch
In addition to basic job requirements, job postings for 911 dispatchers commonly detail the essential skills and knowledge associated with the position. It is important that candidates review these requirements to ensure their skills are in line with the demands of the job.

911 dispatchers must:

Have a strong grasp of the English language, both in the written and spoken word, which includes the meaning and spelling of words, composition, and grammar.
Have knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures, including word processing systems, stenography and transcription, and similar office procedures and terminology.
Have knowledge of laws, legal codes, government regulations, and agency rules.
Have knowledge of computer applications, computer programs, and computer hardware and software.
Have knowledge of the jurisdictional geographical area they will be serving, including highways and thoroughfares.
Be able to communicate effectively and use logic and reasoning to come to solutions, conclusions, or alternate approaches to problems.
Be able to identify complex problems, develop and evaluate options, and implement solutions.

Step 4. Undergo Pre-Employment Testing and In-Service Training
Becoming a 911 dispatcher involves more than an interview. In fact, these professionals must often complete an extensive, pre-employment process, which may include a panel interview, a skills test, a background investigation, and a complete medical and psychological evaluation.

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Upon being hired, most agencies require the completion of a comprehensive training program for dispatchers, which may include classes and on-the-job training. Each agency sets its own standards for training, although most follow state standards. Typical courses within a dispatcher training program often include the following:

Advanced First Aid/CPR/AED
Basic Telecommunications
Critical Incident Stress
Domestic Violence
Emergency Medical Dispatch
Hazardous Materials
Suicide Intervention
TTY Training
Most states require about 40 hours of initial training, as well as the completion of ongoing, continuing education. In addition to customized state training, some states defer to training programs through professional associations, such as the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED).

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