Bcoz From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 374 posts, RR: 0 Posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 6009 times:
I'm looking for some quarter-life career change advice.
Like most of you, I'm a commercial aviation nut and have been so since I was a kid. However, my early career path led me to a bachelors degree in journalism and a career as a reporter...and then in public relations. I've always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to work in the airline industry, but I've never been able to decide what might be right for me...or able to pull the trigger on a move.
I'm approaching 30 and feel that now would be the best time to make a move. In examining all of the various careers in the industry, I feel that a career as a dispatcher might be the most rewarding for me.
I'd like to go about obtaining dispatcher certification from the FAA, but I am unsure as to how to go about starting.
I'd be interested in any thoughts, musings, advice, comments, etc. regarding said move.
In particular, I'm looking for advice on schools in the Chicago/Milwaukee area.
Stratosphere From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 1677 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 5948 times:
Not saying it is easy but one thing is the dispatch ticket has the lowest requirement as far as time. You can get one in 6 to 8 weeks..Are you a top dispatcher? NO..Is it easy? NO. I have both a dispatch ticket and an A@P. Much like the A@P it is a licence a learn. But for an FAA airmans cert it requires the least amount of time to aquire it.
SDF880 From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 130 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 5943 times:
I have been dispatching for 24 years spread out over 7 airlines. Most of the airlines on my resume are gone. I had to move 9 times total. I have had to take pay cuts, reduced hours...etc. Saying all of this I'll now say I would not change a thing and I'm glad I went down this road! To me I have one of the best jobs in the world! I'm not on the road like the flight crews, I don't have the stress of an air traffic controller. I really still enjoy my job and no 2 days are alike, never boring! I sure hope fuel costs don't run us all out of business! Time will tell. Good luck with your career path!
TwinOtter From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 223 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 5774 times:
Bcoz, I'm in a very similar position to you. I had been a systems analyst/progammer for over 20 years, but have always been an aviation nut. The dynamics of my former industry became too much with the ever increasing workload and especially working every evening and weekend.
I resigned on March 31 and went to dispatch school. I got my license in May. The good news is there are plenty of jobs out there. I interviewed and got a job offer during my 4th week in school. I will have to take a major pay cut, but everything I learned in school and the people I met just strengthened my conviction that I am going to love this job. I'm willing to sacrifice the money for a more sane life and doing something I will enjoy.
I haven't started working yet ..just out of class. Sorry, I can't comment on Chicago-area schools.
I've been in the airline business for 31 years, and dispatching for 29, and can readily concur with the other posters that I think this the best at any airline. Truly, no two days are the same, and it's never boring.
Given the state of the airline industry economy at present, and the tendency for airlines to want to hire from within, I think you need to consider balance the answer to two questions, which are (1) What airline do you eventually want to dispatch for and (2) where do you want to live. You might like the airline but hate the city where there dispatch office is. You might like the city, but not want to work for that airline. Most airlines only have a single dispatch office, and most (with a couple of exceptions) are co-located with their HDQ facility.
AA-FTW (near DFW)
NWA-MSP (Soon to be ATL)
CO- Downtown Houston
UA- Near ORD
US- PHX and near PIT, unless they've already consolidated to the PIT office
FL- Not sure on this, ATL, I think, but they're building a new facility in MCO.
Once you've answered those two questions, try to get hired on anywhere you can within that airline, which gets your paycheck, benefits, and seniority started. After 1-2 years, you'll probably have a better shot at dispatch openings as an internal transfer than an outsider. Southwest has gone outside during the last two hires, but did so because previous experience was desired. You could go somewhere (that will hire someone right out of school) and get a couple of years of experience, but if you eventually want to end up at your "dream" airline (the one that's the answer to those two questions) it's still more reasonable to go after an internal transfer with the experience from the other place under your belt. Off-street hiring is just a minority of cases.
Goldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 6148 posts, RR: 13
Reply 7, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 5691 times:
Since you have a bachelor's degree, you might be able to squeeze into a position at a major, but that is a rare exception, and not the rule. For the most part, the major carriers require experience, and there are several ways to earn that experience.
1) The regionals:
- Yes, everyone and their mother dogs the regionals, but without them, many cities wouldn't see service. Period. Depending on the carrier, the training, pay, benefits, etc., can range from horrid, to beating the majors, and often times, they are located in out-of-the-way areas, so the cost of living tends to match the income.
- Places like Ryan International, Omni, etc. These guys fly heavy metal all over the world to more places than the majors can ever dream of going. However, since they are more-often-than-not classified as supplemental, you don't get the 100% dispatch experience that you could get elsewhere. (But, from what I understand, hiring companies understand this, and don't fret too much about it if they see a supplemental on the resume.)
- The big guys like FedEx and UPS, well, they require both a degree and experience, so they're out, but there are smaller players that you could look at. (I can't think of any at the moment.) These guys operate as domestic and flag, so you WILL get 100% dispatch experience, plus heavy and international experience.
Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
Dispatchguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 1273 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 5653 times:
Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 6): FL- Not sure on this, ATL, I think, but they're building a new facility in MCO.
Their current is in MCO - they are getting a new facility at MCO (Right in front of their current HDQ) because the new facility will be hurricane proof; plus, when I was there in March, they are about at max capacity in their current dispatch/SOC room.
OPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 5630 times:
Quoting Dispatchguy (Reply 8): Their current is in MCO - they are getting a new facility at MCO (Right in front of their current HDQ) because the new facility will be hurricane proof; plus, when I was there in March, they are about at max capacity in their current dispatch/SOC room.
Thanks for the clarification, as I wasn't quite sure...
FXRA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 725 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5601 times:
Just to throw in some "this is how I got here" knowledge, and reiterate from above. I decided tog et my dispatch license on a whim. I was throwing boxes and loading planes at FedEx and worked with 3 or 4 other guys who had just gone through the course. I decided it looked interesting, and not having a career goal in mind, I took the class. The pain was lessened since FedEx's tuition reimbursement paid for it.
Unfortunately, I received my ticket in June of 2001 with dreams of moving right into the big purple GOC. The bottom fell out of the industry in September and I was essentially told FedEx jobs were going to be sparse and require previous experience. As mentioned above, you can get in the start trough regionals, charters, or the frieght dawgs. I lucked out and interviewed for a small charter carrier (TransMeridian) in January and was hired. I tried working both FedEx and TMA for a few months until the schedules wore me down. SO, i decided to stay witht he dx job and give up the FedEx goal. It also came with a $10k paycut. One o the best decisions I've ever made.
As mentioned above, the charter guys run ona supplemental certificate, and while you're not a "true" dipatcher there, most of the places train you, and expect the same levl of work as any domestic/flag carrier. The upside (or downside to some) is you maybe be the only guy there, and after business hours, you're the man and responsible for everything for catering to van rides. You're pretty much responsible for a lot of things than at a major, they have a department to handle. The nature of the flying also puts a lot of dependence on you since its often a one time trip somewhere you've never heard of. The second dispatch job was also a supplemental, but far more World reaching in scope.
I did manage to find my first 2 dispatch jobs within the same metro area, and until my most recent career change never had to move. I seem to be an exception here, since I have no degree (some college) and I lucked into a job at a major cargo carrier. I have not been out of work (though I missed it by 2 weeks on one occasion). That being said, I seem to have been in the right place lots of times, as I've worked beside and for dispatchers who have shut down more airlines than I can count.
It's a turbulent time for the industry, but I can't imagine doing anything else. Now, i'm in a place I can hopefully retire from if I don't screw it up.
Good Luck. If you want to stay in the Chicagoland area, after you get you license to learn, Ryan up in RFD is often hiring and has taken no experience guys in the recent past. Could be a good place to start.