Dispatcher or scheduler? What's the difference:

 - July 25, 2007, 4:48 AM

According to those who know, anywhere from about $5,000 to $10,000 a year more for the dispatcher.

Actually, there are a number of differences, not the least of which is the requirement for an FAA license on the part of dispatchers. But for those concerned with the bottom line, “Five to ten thousand dollars a year is about right,” said Mike Todd, whose résumé includes work as a dispatcher, air traffic controller and flight standards supervisor. “The job of dispatcher requires a dispatcher license, but it also requires more technical expertise, from avionics to regulatory and security issues.” And he noted, “It’s the knowledge required to get that license that generates the additional income.”

There’s no lack of schools available. The NBAA on its Web site lists no fewer than 42 of them, along with their phone numbers and Web sites.

In most cases, the dispatcher course runs six weeks, though it may be less for individuals with prior experience in the aviation field.

Ed Morris is president of Sheffield School of Aeronautics in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the standard course is six weeks long and includes 200 hours of classroom work. However, said Morris, those who qualify may choose a two- or four-week curriculum.

The cost of the six-week course at Sheffield is $4,050. The four-week course is priced at $2,950 and the two-week course at $1,700. It’s not a major investment, asserts Todd, considering it will pay for itself in the first year.

Todd said the annual gross salary for an experienced dispatcher ranges from $40,000 to $70,000, depending on the employer and the region. And while the dispatch license may not assure the holder of a job, said Todd, “It will get your résumé pushed to the top, even without experience.”

The job is more clearly defined with the airlines or with a fractional ownership operation than at a corporate flight department, he also noted. “With a corporate flight department or a charter operator, it might include everything from flight planning and crew scheduling to catering and hotel reservations.”

There are avenues to defray the cost of obtaining a dispatcher license. Among them is the NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Scholarship Program. This year, eight recipients shared a total of $30,000 in cash awards. As of July, a spokesman said sponsors had committed a total of $20,000 toward the 2005 scholarships, and the scholarship fund was expected to reach a total of $30,000. And according to NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Committee staff liaison Jay Evans, the committee will, “in the near future,” announce a new training award program sponsored by schools such as FlightSafety International and Sheffield. “It’s in the form of training, rather than a cash award, so it doesn’t carry with it the flexibility, but it’s a great opportunity,” said Evans. Next year’s NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference is scheduled for February 14-16 in Reno, Nev. For details on the scholarship program, and the 2005 conference, check the association Web site, www.nbaa.org.