How To Become A 911 Dispatcher Step By Step Guide
Have you ever been in an emergency and called 911? Most of you would have, and the person who responds to your call is a 911 dispatcher whose duty is to receive the calls and respond to an emergency. The 911 dispatcher is another career within the law enforcement agencies that act as a bridge to mitigate emergencies within the United States.
There are many tempting aspects of the job of 911 Dispatcher that has compelled many people to look for the ways of becoming a 911 dispatcher, if you are reading this article you might be one of them who wonder, how to become a dispatcher or how much do 911 dispatchers make?
Well, the answers to all these questions all with other interesting facts about the job of a dispatcher are discussed in the article, do not forget to miss out on any of the section so that you get to know about each and everything that is required to become the police dispatcher.
What Does A 911 Dispatcher Do?
Let’s begin by discussing the job duties of a police dispatcher, any guess? The prime responsibility of a police dispatcher is to receive emergency Phone calls, take the information from the callers and pass it on to the respective law enforcement agency. For example, if a caller calls on 911 and says that there has been a case of shooting nearby his/her house and seeks help, the dispatcher would ask for the name of the caller and the location of the shooting. Upon getting the information from the caller, the information will be passed on to the respective law enforcement agency, and teams will be sent to the location.
Other duties of a 911 dispatcher include:
- Speaking with the callers and ensuring them that the emergency teams are approaching
- The dispatcher might also guide the callers about first aid procedures whenever they are necessary, for example, if a gunman has shot a caller, the dispatcher will direct him/her not to press the bullet and let the blood flow so, there is no clotting of blood.
- The dispatchers might also conduct quires for a wanted person.
- Apart from emergencies, the dispatchers will also handle routine calls which require information about specific police departments.
- There is a slight misconception about the terms 911 dispatcher and 911 operators, well, let’s have a look at what they are, and how can we differentiate among the terms.
Difference Between A 911 Operator And 911 Dispatcher
The difference between an operator and a dispatcher may vary depending on the agency, in smaller agencies both the job positions have similar tasks to do. In contrast, in law enforcement agencies with a relatively larger number of human resources and area of operations, the job of operator and dispatcher may differ.
In more extensive law enforcement agencies, the job of a dispatcher is to receive the calls and assign the tasks to one of the department, the duty of an operator is to ensure that all the departments are in coordination and handling the case with a coordinated approach.
In simple words, the dispatcher assigns a task to the department, and an operator ensures that the operations are being conducted in a coordinated manner. In this way, the operator provides that every department is in coordination with each other and moving in a similar direction to resolve the case.
Steps To Become A 911 Dispatcher
Since the police dispatchers are the first line of communication in the emergency situation, therefore a dispatcher must be well aware of his/her responsibilities and must have a robust, decisive power so that the decision can be taken without any hesitation.
To become a police dispatcher, one needs to follow a particular path and complete specific steps; these steps are mentioned below.
Complete A High School Diploma
The minimum educational requirement to become a police dispatcher is a high school diploma, without a high school diploma, there are zero chances that one can become the police dispatcher. Education makes a mind sharp, and for this reason, many of the candidates who are working as police dispatchers have acquired an associate diploma a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The higher educational degrees will not only increase the chances of employment in your desired law enforcement agency, but they will also let you get promoted to the higher ranks within the department.
Police dispatcher jobs are announced now and then if you already have a high school diploma, you are eligible to apply for the position.
Gain Relevant Work Experience
There is a famous saying which says that “Success follows experience”, the law enforcement agencies also prefer the candidates with some experience. The minimum age to apply for the position of a police dispatcher is 18 years. However, you are advised to gain some experience before applying for the job of a police dispatcher.
Do you have a thought in your mind about what sort of experience would be helpful for the job of dispatcher?
Well, any experience that involves public dealing will help counted as an experience for this position, for example, many companies have established customer interaction centres, or the customer support centers of many private companies could help gain relevant experience.
People with some sales experience over the calls are also considered experienced for the job of the dispatcher, so before looking for the employment of a police dispatcher, you are advised to gain some experience so that it could be helpful for you to get a position in any of the law enforcement agencies.
Develop Dispatcher Skills
As discussed earlier, the position of a police officer requires you to have a firm grip on yourself so that you can handle the cases of people who are calling you in an emergency. One of the useful skills for a police dispatcher is to remain calm under pressure; this ability is so much attractive that many selected candidates were just selected because they had to power to handle the pressure.
So, to secure your position as a police dispatcher, you must ensure that you can work under pressure and handle a crisis.
Other useful skills for the police dispatcher includes:
- Remaining calm under pressure
- Effective communication skills
- Decision-making ability
- Organizational skills
- Knowledge of computer
Identify The Employers
In every state, there are numerous public safety answering points (PSAPs); these points are established to ensure public safety and respond to any crisis. There are two types of PSAPs, primary and secondary. Both these are considered as potential employers for the dispatchers. The primary PSAPs are points where the calls are being received from the public, and secondary PSAPs are points where these calls are transferred depending on the vicinity and nature of the emergency.
PSAPs can be found at dedicated call centers, Police departments, fire departments, and public safety departments, if you are willing to join one of these PSAPs, you are directed to look for them and apply for any vacant positions.
Depending on which state you are applying to, your scope of work will differ, for example, if you are working in New York, you might be performing at the city level only on the other hand if work in an area with a lesser population, you might receive calls from all the respective regions.
Pass The Steps Of Application
Becoming a dispatcher requires more than just appearing in an interview, there are pre-employment requirements which a candidate must fulfil to get selected for an announced position.
Typically these requirements include written.
- Written Test,
- Background check
- Physical examination.
To get selected for the position of a police dispatcher, one has to undergo all these steps and pass them successfully.
Pass A Background Check
Before getting a dispatch job, one needs to go through a background check. During the application process, the background check is conducted to ensure that the candidate applying for the job does not have a criminal record, therefore, if you are an aspiring candidate for the position of a Police dispatcher, you must ensure that you do not have a criminal record.
The background check includes your history of criminal record; in most of the cases, a felony is a permanent disqualifier for the position of a police dispatcher, other minor criminals charges might be neglected.
Another critical component of a background check is family history; some of the law enforcement agencies require you to provide information about your immediate family members so that their background can also be checked. Followed by a family background check, there will be a polygraph test to ensure that the statements given by a candidate are accurate and there is no misinformation that he/she is offering.
In Service Training
If a candidate is capable enough to pass through all the criteria mentioned above then he or she is selected for the position of a Police dispatcher, once selected, there are specific training which a candidate has to go through. The dispatcher training will typically include educational courses during which you will be taught to evaluate different situations and handle them under pressure.
Other areas of expertise that you will master during your training include:
- Advanced First Aid/CPR/AED
- Basic Telecommunications
- Critical Incident Stress
- Domestic Violence
- Emergency Medical Dispatch
- Hazardous Materials
- Suicide Intervention
- TTY Training
What To Consider When Becoming A Police Dispatcher
Like any of the other professions of law enforcement, the job of a police dispatcher demands complete attention. During your duty will be spending most of your time in a stressful environment, the job is perfect for those who consider themselves emotionally strong enough to handle different types of situations.
One of the most eminent reasons that you must consider before applying for any of the position is that these jobs are very much appreciated in society and by doing a little, you will be contributing a lot towards the society. Therefore, it is a win-win situation for you if you are capable enough the handle stress.
911 Dispatcher Salary
According to the bureau of labor statistics, the average annual dispatcher salary is $38,010. 911 dispatcher jobs are being announced now and then. You must look for one of them and apply for it but make sure that you meet all the requirements mentioned in the article so that you’ve high chances of becoming a police dispatcher and serve your community.
We wish you all the very best in your struggle of becoming an emergency dispatcher.