MTA Dispatchers: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for MTA dispatchers. Get the facts about education requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an MTA Dispatcher?

Municipal transportation agency (MTA) dispatchers schedule and dispatch buses, subway trains and other public transportation vehicles. In addition, when one of these vehicles is in need of emergency repair, they may dispatch mechanics and/or substitute vehicles. To send out this information, they utilize radio, telephone or computer technology. After every dispatch, MTA dispatchers carefully record the event so that there is a continuous log of all transportation activities. That way, the data can later be used in statistical evaluations that assess the efficiency of the municipality's transportation system.

See that table below for some career facts about MTA dispatchers.

Education Required High school diploma
Training Required On-the-job training
Key Skills Computer and computer software operating skills, communication skills with phone and two-way radios, knowledge of local traffic laws and local geography
Key Responsibilities Assign bus or subway operators to routes, keep records of the scheduling and route information, maintain radio communication with operators and respond to equipment malfunctions or vehicle breakdowns
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% for all dispatchers, except police, fire, and ambulance
Average Salary (2015)* $40,210 for all dispatchers working for local governments, except police, fire, and ambulance

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need for a Career as an MTA Dispatcher?

A high school diploma or equivalent is usually sufficient for a career as a metropolitan transportation authority or municipal transportation agency (MTA) dispatcher. However, some MTA employers may require you to pass a written exam before you'd be eligible for a dispatcher position.

The abbreviation 'MTA' may refer specifically to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the New York City area (www.mta.info) or the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (www.sfmta.com). Those looking for jobs with those organizations can consult their websites for job openings.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

As an MTA dispatcher, you'd be responsible for scheduling and dispatching buses, trolleys, subways and other public transportation vehicles. You'd inspect vehicles to ensure that they're in proper working order and assign bus drivers or subway operators to different routes. You'll also have to keep a record of the scheduling and route assignment information, maintain radio communication with drivers or operators and respond to equipment malfunctions or vehicle breakdowns. You could also expect to respond to inquiries regarding bus or subway schedules from members of the general public. Some employers might also require you to investigate accidents and prepare accident investigation reports.

What Skills Do I Need?

Because many cities employ electronic dispatching and record-keeping systems, you'll need familiarity with computers and basic office software. You should also be able to operate 2-way radios and digital telephones in order to communicate with drivers and operators. If you're interested in becoming a bus dispatcher, then you should also be familiar with local traffic laws and the geography of the city where you work. Good oral and written communication skills enable you to prepare quality reports and communicate with drivers, operators, maintenance personnel and members of the general public.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

Salary data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that non-emergency dispatchers earned an average annual salary of $40,210, as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that dispatchers working for local governments earned an average of $47,310 per year, as of May 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working as an MTA dispatcher, you might be interested in getting a job as an emergency dispatcher. In this position, you would respond to emergency calls and alarms by dispatching police officers, fire trucks or ambulances, depending on the nature of the emergency. Emergency dispatchers need to have at least a high school diploma. However, if you are looking for a transportation industry occupation, you might consider becoming a local transit bus driver. They carry passengers along regular routes in cities and suburbs, stopping frequently to let passengers on and off. They also report accidents and traffic to dispatchers. Like dispatchers, bus drivers need a high school diploma.

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