Dispatcher's salaries vary greatly among airlines with senior dispatchers at major airlines easily earning over $100,000 per year. In 1999, a few dispatchers were known to have earned close to $150,000 with overtime.
Senior dispatchers at one major airline work 4, 10-hours shifts a week and enjoy 4 days off each week between these 40 hour, 4 day weeks.
On the other hand, entry level positions at smaller carriers start in the $20,000 per year range and feature 8 hour shifts, 5 days a week.
Dispatchers can expect to work "shift work" and should plan on occasionally working midnight shifts and holidays, especially when junior in their respective offices.
Most major airlines only hire experienced dispatchers with considerable time at smaller carriers, or else selected candidates already employed by the company with many years of internal airline experience. As an example, at one of the nations largest airlines, candidates are selected from within the company. The average successful candidate has 15-20 years of seniority within the airline with supervisory experience in a variety of operational areas. This airline does not hire outside of the company. Another airline recently hired 10 dispatchers. Each of the new dispatchers were selected from the ranks of other airlines and had 10 years average dispatch experience.
Graduates from dispatch schools will find a good job market, but realistically should not expect to be hired off the street by major airlines such as American, United or Delta. However, a good basis for future employment with a major airline is a 5 year stint with one of the smaller carriers. Most majors regard their dispatch positions as senior management level positions and require considerable experience in candidates before turning over the operational control of their flights to dispatchers.