Need advise/opinion about a career "transition"...what do you think?

BG37

New Member
Hi, I'm former a military FE, heavies and helos. It's been about 7 years since I've flown. I've been working in the Food and Beverage industry since.
One thing I didn't know much about was Flight Dispatch. I miss being around aviation so I started poking around. I went to the Sheffield page and they comment that there have been students in their 60's etc. Also looked at the Jeppesen website. I'm 52 and plan to work until whenever...lol!
What do you think? I read somewhere that this is a young man or woman game. But having been around flight ops, I can't assume that 40+ yo Flight Operators are rare.
Thanks for you input and this seems to be a really cool forum. Some comedians lol!
 

FlyingSioux1

Well-Known Member
Hi, I'm former a military FE, heavies and helos. It's been about 7 years since I've flown. I've been working in the Food and Beverage industry since.
One thing I didn't know much about was Flight Dispatch. I miss being around aviation so I started poking around. I went to the Sheffield page and they comment that there have been students in their 60's etc. Also looked at the Jeppesen website. I'm 52 and plan to work until whenever...lol!
What do you think? I read somewhere that this is a young man or woman game. But having been around flight ops, I can't assume that 40+ yo Flight Operators are rare.
Thanks for you input and this seems to be a really cool forum. Some comedians lol!
Thank you for your service.

While at the regionals you will definitely see a younger group, but at the company I am with do have an array of ages. As you get to the majors you will see a more experiences group of people who are generally working there until retirement from the company.

What I would recommend is check out an operation if you can. Often enough if you reach out to an airline they can help you see what it entails. With your knowledge of aviation it shouldn't be too hard to get back in the game.
 

DispatcherSam

Well-Known Member
Hi, I'm former a military FE, heavies and helos. It's been about 7 years since I've flown. I've been working in the Food and Beverage industry since.
One thing I didn't know much about was Flight Dispatch. I miss being around aviation so I started poking around. I went to the Sheffield page and they comment that there have been students in their 60's etc. Also looked at the Jeppesen website. I'm 52 and plan to work until whenever...lol!
What do you think? I read somewhere that this is a young man or woman game. But having been around flight ops, I can't assume that 40+ yo Flight Operators are rare.
Thanks for you input and this seems to be a really cool forum. Some comedians lol!
How do you feel about potential relocation or commuting? Being on the bottom of the seniority list working the shifts passed on by the rest?
 

autosave36

Well-Known Member
Hi, I'm former a military FE, heavies and helos. It's been about 7 years since I've flown. I've been working in the Food and Beverage industry since.
One thing I didn't know much about was Flight Dispatch. I miss being around aviation so I started poking around. I went to the Sheffield page and they comment that there have been students in their 60's etc. Also looked at the Jeppesen website. I'm 52 and plan to work until whenever...lol!
What do you think? I read somewhere that this is a young man or woman game. But having been around flight ops, I can't assume that 40+ yo Flight Operators are rare.
Thanks for you input and this seems to be a really cool forum. Some comedians lol!
This is doable. like Sam said, You have to be willing to relocate at some point unless you're lucky and live in atlanta or Dallas, to make a real career out of it. OR you can commute. If you're okay with that, then cool. Dispatch offices (especially regionals) will hire older people, they will hire career changers. There will be some dues paying, and it's a lot of work to study for the test/pass it, but it's rewarding and i've enjoyed it so far.

Regionals definitely skew younger but at my office, I haven't seen much of a rift between older guys/girls and younger guys/girls. A sense of humor/ability to not get offended will only help you. The job gets very very busy at times and is then sometimes followed by some very down times.
 

Stanimal

Well-Known Member
I was you once upon a time. Its no walk in the park the only thing the the FE side helped, was knowing acft systems but that's not really a big help MX controllers are going to dictate whats going on with the jet not you. You'll get more out of all those years of listening to ATIS and reading WX reports from, and the that is, IF, the AC printed it out and just handed it back to you for you TOLD data rather than just telling you what it is. Enjoy low wages and • wake up times until you get some seniority under your belt.
 

manniax

Well-met in the Ka-tet
It’s definitely possible, however getting the requisite experience and making it to a major is somewhat more doubtful since you’d likely be close to 60 at that point. Are you willing to work shift work including holidays, start at $15 or so per hour, and move if necessary to take the job? (Commuting, while possible, is not very fun.) It is an enjoyable job, but the wages at regional carriers are not very high...even at top out. Good luck with your decision!
 

Flagship_dxer

Legacy Airline Dispatcher
Timing is key ingredient in having a successful dispatch career. Age 52 is not too late but you need to start now. If the majors are your goal, you don't have time to go the internal route as that often can take a decade or more depending on the company and also mean moving a few times. You won't have time to hop from regional to charter/freight/LCC to major. You will likely need to go the regional route and hope the majors hire with low time. Thats where timing comes in.

When you get to a regional, attrition is at most pretty high so you will likely quickly get a decent to good schedule. The better regionals have less movement so you won't as quickly get a better schedule. Pay will be low as mentioned.

At your age, I wouldn't write off a career at a charter, supplemental freight, or LCC. They usually make a fairly good wage. At your age, you probably wont make 150K a year at a major as that takes 10 years at a major. But you can get in the 60-90 range at a supplemental or LCC. As a military guy, you might like the type of flying that the charter and freight companies do.

As I mentioned before, timing is everything. If you time it right, you might start with a decent schedule even at a major. But timing is not quite in your control. Before investing yourself in the career, ask yourself how many moves you are willing to make, can you handle commuting, are you willing to work most holidays and weekends, are you willing to take your vacations in the winter? The regionals in particular have a high workload that can be pretty stressful. How much stress can you handle?

When people say it's a young man's game, they refer to the low regional pay, difficult working hours, seniority system, longevity pay, and being able to more easily relocate for job opportunities.
 

JimAK

Well-Known Member
What's you're overall goal? Get into the pipeline to eventually (maybe) work at a major airline? Then the above posts contain good advice. Maybe you just wanna get back to being around aviation again? Here's my story, maybe it will help in your new path.

I retired from the USAF after 22 years. (5 years ago, now). My wife was about 6 years into her own career after following me around all that time, which means now it's her turn. We're settled where we want to live for the moment, and she's in control of the career-dictating stuff. I had always been around and loved aviation in various forms since a kid. I wasn't directly involved in aviation in the AF, but around it all the time on the periphery. I decided I wanted to be around aviation full time. Although dispatching had a huge draw, I wasn't interested in "playing the game" of moving up the traditional ladder to a major. I also have my retirement income, so pay wasn't a driving factor.

Before getting started, however, I still had my GI Bill to burn through. My local State U has a 4yr Aviation Management degree program, so I signed up to see where it would take me. 4th year also includes the option for a 2-semester dispatcher certification course. So I came out the other end with both a degree and an ADX certificate. But now what? I'm lucky enough to live in an aviation-rich area. At least a dozen different 121/125/135 scheduled carriers, and another few dozen little 135 charter operators. Although the vast majority of these companies don't need certificated dispatchers, the cert doesn't hurt.

Anyway, long story short... (too late?)... I found a good fit with a smallish 135 company that was expanding. They needed someone to manage a growing flight ops department. My 20 years of ass-kicking NCO leadership fit their bill nicely. Now I'm around aviation all day, every day... I don't need to bounce around the country chasing a career... and I'm in a position commensurate to my experience and skills instead of being the 50 year old guy starting at the bottom and reporting to a "young kid". There wouldn't be anything wrong with that, per se... but I feel like the goose dropped a golden egg right on top of my head.

So anyway, if you're just looking to get back around aviation, but aren't really interested in driving mach 3 in the fast lane, there are other ways to do it. Go ahead and get that ticket - it can't hurt. Then see what ma and pa operators in your local area need a hard-charging guy with a lot of experience and leadership abilities, and find your new home!
 

Flagship_dxer

Legacy Airline Dispatcher
SkyWest has been hiring back to back classes for at least two years now and they're a "better regional".
How long does it take to get from new hire to top of seniority list at Skywest? There is a difference between being a good place to get experience and a good place to go for a long term career. The better regionals have more lifers and advancing up the list to the top takes more time. What are the company dispatch longevity for the top five seniority dispatchers at Skywest and PSA? How much hiring for retirements does the company have? Is the attrition due to upward movement or lateral movement?

You can have a revolving door at the bottom and mid level of the list while the top part of the list stays largely stagnant.
 

flynryan692

Well-Known Member
How long does it take to get from new hire to top of seniority list at Skywest? There is a difference between being a good place to get experience and a good place to go for a long term career. The better regionals have more lifers and advancing up the list to the top takes more time. What are the company dispatch longevity for the top five seniority dispatchers at Skywest and PSA? How much hiring for retirements does the company have? Is the attrition due to upward movement or lateral movement?

You can have a revolving door at the bottom and mid level of the list while the top part of the list stays largely stagnant.
I really don't want this thread to get hijacked and turned into a SkyWest pissing match, but I'm not sure why any of it matters. The only thing seniority really affects at SkyWest is bidding, and I've never not gotten my first choice (granted I no longer bid). Unless you're hoping to work Mon-Thu at 8 AM, you can get what you want unless it is your first time bidding. Maybe that's not the case now that there are so many new people, but it moves quick. They're hiring for both growth and attrition. The east coast is expanding quickly as well as the AA operation, and SkyWest has had Dispatchers go to every major hiring pool this year, something not every regional can say.
 

Flagship_dxer

Legacy Airline Dispatcher
I really don't want this thread to get hijacked and turned into a SkyWest pissing match, but I'm not sure why any of it matters. The only thing seniority really affects at SkyWest is bidding, and I've never not gotten my first choice (granted I no longer bid). Unless you're hoping to work Mon-Thu at 8 AM, you can get what you want unless it is your first time bidding. Maybe that's not the case now that there are so many new people, but it moves quick. They're hiring for both growth and attrition. The east coast is expanding quickly as well as the AA operation, and SkyWest has had Dispatchers go to every major hiring pool this year, something not every regional can say.
I was asked to define what a better regional to work for was. A better regional to work for is one where the most junior doesnt become the most senior in under 5 years. In the absence of heavy hiring by the majors, dispatchers stay longer if the company is a good place to work. The higher the attrition particularly lateral attrition, the less desirable the place is to work. If most people at the regional stay until they find a job at a supplemental, LCC, or major, it would be one of the better places to work. If people leave in high numbers to other regionals or leave the industry, it is not a particularly good place to work.
 

A-9er

Well-Known Member
I was asked to define what a better regional to work for was. A better regional to work for is one where the most junior doesnt become the most senior in under 5 years. In the absence of heavy hiring by the majors, dispatchers stay longer if the company is a good place to work. The higher the attrition particularly lateral attrition, the less desirable the place is to work. If most people at the regional stay until they find a job at a supplemental, LCC, or major, it would be one of the better places to work. If people leave in high numbers to other regionals or leave the industry, it is not a particularly good place to work.
Well, at the regional where I worked, the top 3 DXers had about two years in apiece. I can't think of anyone regularly working the desks who had anywhere CLOSE to five years in...
 

bbmikej

Well-Known Member
Well, at the regional where I worked, the top 3 DXers had about two years in apiece. I can't think of anyone regularly working the desks who had anywhere CLOSE to five years in...
That could be a bit worrying. First, if you were looking to work their, that means there is a high turnover. Why do people not want to stay there for over 2 years? It says to me that there is an issue between management and the work force where they are driving people away. Second, it is nice to have a senior core of dispatchers because they have seen most everything and are a good source of reference. Even if there is just 1 senior person on the floor there is someone to go to to ask questions and get an honest answer.
 

DogwoodLynx

Well-Known Member
That could be a bit worrying. First, if you were looking to work their, that means there is a high turnover. Why do people not want to stay there for over 2 years? It says to me that there is an issue between management and the work force where they are driving people away. Second, it is nice to have a senior core of dispatchers because they have seen most everything and are a good source of reference. Even if there is just 1 senior person on the floor there is someone to go to to ask questions and get an honest answer.
Agreed about having experienced guys on the floor!
 

A-9er

Well-Known Member
That could be a bit worrying. First, if you were looking to work their, that means there is a high turnover. Why do people not want to stay there for over 2 years? It says to me that there is an issue between management and the work force where they are driving people away. Second, it is nice to have a senior core of dispatchers because they have seen most everything and are a good source of reference. Even if there is just 1 senior person on the floor there is someone to go to to ask questions and get an honest answer.
That just made me think of something: is it a bad sign when someone ALWAYS has a DX opening listed?
 
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