OldScout
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Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 12:39 am

Hello All, I am an energetic 57 year old semi-retired person looking for something new and challenging to do, hopefully in aviation. Airline dispatching seems like it might fit the bill. There are several schools here in the DFW area where I live that offer the six-week course leading to a certificate.

Is it realistic to expect a job offer in this field at my age after successfully completing the course?

I recently earned my private pilot certificate and grew-up in an aviation background. (My old man was a SAC pilot and later a production test pilot.) So, while I'm no professional, I've been around aviation. Also, I am a life-long learner with a BSBA and MBA which I paid for by working on oil drilling rigs in the last big boom. So, I know about hard work and working from the bottom-up.

Appreciate your thoughts and insight!
 
GSPSPOT
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 12:44 am

I too live in the DFW area and this is very interesting to me. That would be a very interesting avocation, and I'd like to know the answer to your question as well!
Great Lakes, great life.
 
MSJYOP28Apilot
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 1:07 am

At age 57, you wont likely ever see a major airline. You will need at least 3-5 years at a regional airline. Even regional airlines might be weary of hiring someone so close to retirement age.

You will likely need to commute or relocate. The only airline dispatch jobs in the DFW area are Envoy, AA and Southwest. All of which are fairly difficult to get hired into. AA and Southwest dont hire dispatchers externally without dispatch experience. I know many people that struggle to get into all three.

The older you get, the tougher dispatching can be not from the knowledge point of view but stress. Dispatching is a very stressful job particularly on days with a lot of weather problems. Most airlines have dispatchers planning and flight following on the low end 40 flights to about 100 on the high end. This is in addition to flights taken from the dispatcher you are relieving. Older people that have done it for a while have little issues but Ive seen a number new to the industry struggle big time at the regionals with the fast pace of the job.

Keep in mind the working hours. At most regionals, start times for lower seniority dispatchers tends to be in the 2-4AM time frame on 10 hour shifts. Midnights are not uncommon either starting out.

[Edited 2015-04-05 18:11:04]
 
GSPSPOT
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 1:42 am

Bummer... Bigtime. Guess I'll keep my M-F non-ariline job that can only start as early as 8am and end as late as 6pm. As a lifelong airline enthusiast, that's hard to hear.

[Edited 2015-04-05 18:43:25]
Great Lakes, great life.
 
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northwestEWR
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:11 am

Let me start of by saying that I am a firm believer in achieving one's goals. If you really want to be a dispatcher, then it shouldn't matter the obstacles, you should be one.

At age 57, yes, you may have difficulty competing against those of us in our mid-late 20s with a strong aviation background, pilots, dispatchers from regionals, etc. A major like Delta knows they can hire one of those guys for decades and probably for cheaper. "Equal Opportunity Employer" BS is a given but it's a reality.

I fully encourage you to follow your dream though--you can always go to Dispatch School (about 5K/8-10 weeks is typical) and get your certificate. I had a great time in school--dispatch is fascinating. With your background and an MBA, you may be able to combine that with a dispatch certificate and work as an analyst/support person in an OCC. They always need business folks to work in conjunction with the dispatchers--that might be a way to live the dream and do it at a major.

Feel free to PM message me for more info.
Northwest Airlines - Now You're Flying Smart
 
MSJYOP28Apilot
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 4:20 am

Quoting northwestEWR (Reply 4):
A major like Delta knows they can hire one of those guys for decades and probably for cheaper.

Can you explain what you mean by cheaper? Delta dispatchers like almost all majors are union represented and have a scale that tops out at around ten years at around 9-10K per month. A younger and older dispatcher both start at year 1 making the same money and top out at the same money. They cant pay a younger dispatcher less than an older one since this would violate the union contact. Though, wouldn't the older dispatcher be cheaper because he wouldn't be topped out as long? Airlines spend lots of money trying to get older dispatchers who have been topped out for decades to retire.
 
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northwestEWR
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 5:37 am

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 5):
Can you explain what you mean by cheaper? Delta dispatchers like almost all majors are union represented and have a scale that tops out at around ten years at around 9-10K per month. A younger and older dispatcher both start at year 1 making the same money and top out at the same money. They cant pay a younger dispatcher less than an older one since this would violate the union contact. Though, wouldn't the older dispatcher be cheaper because he wouldn't be topped out as long? Airlines spend lots of money trying to get older dispatchers who have been topped out for decades to retire.

From what I understand--it comes down to benefits, not the actual hourly pay. The cost of health insurance alone for a 55-65 year old vs. a 25 year old is enormous.

You also have to remember that dispatchers take that experience and once they top-out (or not even) move into other positions like Operations Management or Sector Management, etc where the pay-scale is different anyway.

They also don't get as much out of their investment--if DL is going to hire a dispatcher and pay them for a year to go through internal training and familiarization--you'd better stay and work off that debt. This is a problem at the regionals where dispatchers (and pilots) come in, go through expensive training, spend a couple years and bail. If they hire a 25 year old--they're going to get a solid return on their investment and he/she will likely be with the company in different positions for decades. That can't be said for a 55-65 y/o who will retire after 4-5 years.
Northwest Airlines - Now You're Flying Smart
 
bhmdiversion
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:24 am

If you have questions about being a Dispatcher, please PM me.
 
baw716
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:33 am

I am in my mid 50s and have been a dispatcher for four years. Of course, I come from a strong airline background and made the change because I had to do so (severe injury) so in this respect I am lucky.

Do not count yourself out at age 57. You will have to work harder and smarter, but you will not have difficulty getting into a regional if you are able to demonstrate that you are competent in making decisions....which most in their early 20s while well educated have little experience.

As for a major, that will be a tougher slog because you will require at least three years in a regional before you can advance. It isn't impossible, but the competition becomes much more difficult. That said, you have a PPL, and that will serve you well against others who don't....but you have to manage expectations here.

If you love aviation and you love flight planning and you are up for a high energy environment, then this could be a great fit. It will cost you about $8000 to get this done and you need to be prepared to relocate.

If you can do that, then the sky's the limit.

baw716
David L. Lamb, fmr Area Mgr Alitalia SFO 1998-2002, fmr Regional Analyst SFO-UAL 1992-1998
 
strfyr51
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:47 am

I don't think it will be a problem. BUT?! Where are you willing to MOVE to do this?? The career you seek might really not be where you are so it might be something to think about before you start on that path. No doubt it could be exciting and really could be profitable because Dispatchers make good money. "Howsumever" that good money might be in Memphis, Louisville, Chicago, Indianapolis. Dallas, Seattle, Portland , Cncinatti Miami ETC. In short? you have no IDEA where it might be and if moving is NOT something you would want to do? then it's a wasted effort. I'm from Philadelphia, PA. I started in Aviation 45 years ago and I have NEVER lived at or near home since I was 17. and now I'm 63. I know I'm Never again going home. My Kids have never Known Philly as Home. Both consider California as home. ( I was 25years at United Airlines in SFO, Since transferred to Chicago, Whopee!!) Philly is a place I visit now. I love it but I no longer know it..
 
SKC
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:53 pm

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 2):
AA and Southwest dont hire dispatchers externally without dispatch experience. I know many people that struggle to get into all three.

We (SWA) have a former Capt who was hired into dispatch a couple of years ago without any dispatch experience. He aged out in the cockpit, got his ticket and is here now. He probably had the advantage of being a SWA pilot, but it isn't impossible to go that route. Rare, but not impossible.

I know you said "externally", but just trying to impress the "no prior experience" part of his story.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
A346Dude
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:10 am

Quoting GSPSPOT (Reply 3):
Bummer... Bigtime. Guess I'll keep my M-F non-ariline job that can only start as early as 8am and end as late as 6pm. As a lifelong airline enthusiast, that's hard to hear.

Sorry, but there aren't many jobs in this industry that are 9-5.
You know the gear is up and locked when it takes full throttle to taxi to the terminal.
 
OldScout
Topic Author
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Tue Apr 07, 2015 5:20 am

Thanks to all who responded. You've provided a lot of food for thought. Not sure which direction I'll go, but at least I have some excellent feedback from those in the trenches. Decision to be made in the coming weeks. Will advise. Thanks again for taking the time to respond.
 
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boilergo
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:42 am

I will echo what some have said here, but with a slightly different flavor:

1) If this is something that truly interests you and you have the means by which to get this certification, then do it. I enjoy learning new things, and can't seem to learn enough about this industry. Even if you end up not taking a job in dispatch, you will be a better aviator for it, and you will have a lot more knowledge about a subject that you find interesting.

2) I have read a lot of mention on here about working for the airlines, both regional and mainline. Have you considered the several other operators here in the Metroplex that are not scheduled airlines? You might be surprised to find out what some of these operators pay. They may not top out as high as some of the majors, but I will tell you that I am getting paid more that double to do what I do now than when I was doing the same job at "the world's largest SUper REgional" airline in Atlanta. Yes, granted, coming into it I had a couple of years at the regional airline, but was pretty floored to find out how absolutely little I had been getting paid by comparison. The tradeoff with these other operators are the travel benefits. Where I work, there aren't really any to speak of. I am not sure if this is important to you, but it's something to consider.

Just my $.02.
 
Goldenshield
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:25 am

Quoting boilergo (Reply 13):
Have you considered the several other operators here in the Metroplex that are not scheduled airlines?

It's pretty safe to say that although small 121 operators might not have the latest and greatest of fleet, computer systems, operational capabilities, benefits, or even management (your mileage will vary...) but one thing that will happen is that you will learn how to dispatch, and by that, I mean that you will LEARN how the operation works both in and out, both with legality and practicality, and not a just a small streamlined facet of it as you might see at larger operations.
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MSJYOP28Apilot
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Sun Apr 12, 2015 12:03 pm

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 14):
It's pretty safe to say that although small 121 operators might not have the latest and greatest of fleet, computer systems, operational capabilities, benefits, or even management (your mileage will vary...) but one thing that will happen is that you will learn how to dispatch, and by that, I mean that you will LEARN how the operation works both in and out, both with legality and practicality, and not a just a small streamlined facet of it as you might see at larger operations.

Not only that but depending on the metroplex small 91/135/121 operators you might be doing a lot more than just dispatching. You can also be the crew scheduler, charter salesman, and customer service coordinator.
 
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tb727
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:36 pm

Quoting MSJYOP28Apilot (Reply 15):
Not only that but depending on the metroplex small 91/135/121 operators you might be doing a lot more than just dispatching. You can also be the crew scheduler, charter salesman, and customer service coordinator.

You can find a 135 or 121 Supplemental operator and be a "flight follower" which is basically doing a dispatchers job. In the case of Supplemental you don't have to be licensed because the operational control is between the PIC and the Dir of Ops. I got into the business doing 135 flight following and it was a mix of basic dispatching, crew scheduling, charter sales and customer service all at the same time and it was a lot of fun! In the DFW area you have Ameristar over at ADS which probably has a position like that. Alliance at DTO is similar too but I'm not sure if they have their dispatch office there or in Denver.
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Goldenshield
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Sun Apr 12, 2015 6:31 pm

Quoting tb727 (Reply 16):
You can find a 135 or 121 Supplemental operator and be a "flight follower" which is basically doing a dispatchers job.

There are a number of supplemental operators that are certificated for domestic/flag, but operate as supplemental since they aren't scheduled, and thus will have a number of both dispatchers and flight followers, if not strictly dispatchers.
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DiamondFlyer
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RE: Encore Career As An Airline Dispatcher?

Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:53 pm

Quoting tb727 (Reply 16):
In the DFW area you have Ameristar over at ADS which probably has a position like that. Alliance at DTO is similar too but I'm not sure if they have their dispatch office there or in Denver.

Ameriflight is also based at DFW now, and they have a sizable operation.

-DiamondFlyer
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