Dispatchers, also known as 911 operators, are responsible for dispatching ambulance, fire and police units in response to requests for assistance. These professionals regularly receive and process calls from the public regarding accidents, fires, injuries and other emergency situations. Dispatchers also monitor the locations and activities of the emergency service personnel assigned to their jurisdictions.
Dispatchers work in emergency service departments for states, counties, cities and other municipalities.
They should be highly experienced in communicating and working in stressful conditions. In addition, dispatchers should be well-versed in using telecommunications equipment and related technology. Excellent interpersonal skills as well as patience and flexibility are required in this profession.
There are no formal degrees for dispatchers. Most professionals in this field have a high school diploma and receive specialized on-the-job training. Prospective dispatchers may also gain a career advantage by completing advanced courses in communications, police science or criminal justice from an accredited online or on-site educational institution.
Many states require dispatchers to successfully complete Emergency Medical Dispatch training from authorized professional associations such as the Association of Public-Safety Officials International (APCO).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for police, fire and ambulance dispatchers was $33,670 in May 2008.
The job outlook for dispatchers is considered extremely favorable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more opportunities for qualified candidates as growing numbers of dispatchers retire or transition to other career fields.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics