How To Become a Police Dispatcher

Steps for Becoming a Fire and Police Dispatcher
  1. Complete the level of education required by the hiring agency.
  2. Earn experience working in a customer service role.
  3. Take and pass a civil service test.
  4. Apply for an open dispatch position.
  5. Complete an interview with the hiring agency.
  6. Complete a background check.

Becoming a 911 Dispatcher… The Hiring Process

Average police dispatcher salary

Depending on a candidate’s level of experience and geographic location, police dispatcher salaries can vary.

What does a police dispatcher do?

Responding to emergency calls and directing assistance to locations is a police dispatcher. A police dispatcher collects information from the caller when they dial 9-1-1, then informs the police and other emergency service providers where to go. Some other duties may also include:

Police dispatchers also handle non-emergency calls, giving callers information or sending police to the scene.

How to become a police dispatcher

For police dispatchers to be successful in their jobs, they need to possess a variety of qualifications, abilities, and traits. Here are the steps to becoming a police dispatcher:

1. Complete high school

Police dispatchers are required to have a GED or at least a high school diploma. Although it is not necessary, some of these professionals might decide to pursue further education, such as an associate’s degree in a relevant subject like criminal justice, law enforcement, or psychology.

2. Gain relevant experience

Dispatchers for the police must be at least 18 years old. Dispatch centers, however, tend to favor adults with at least a few years of prior work experience. Customer service, administrative support, or other positions requiring interaction with people and the use of various communication technologies are examples of prior employment that is relevant. When applying for a job as a police dispatcher, for instance, having prior experience working in a call center where you must resolve issues over the phone would be very advantageous.

Before applying to work as a dispatcher if you don’t yet have any work experience, you might want to try out jobs that are similar. Look for jobs that put you in time-sensitive situations, involve regular customer interaction, and necessitate the use of computers. You can increase your chances of getting hired as a police dispatcher and perform well once you have one by taking the time to gain relevant experience.

3. Develop vital skills

You should have some experience with these abilities before applying for a job as a police dispatcher:

Take advantage of opportunities, such as training programs and certain professional roles, to continue developing these skills. For instance, you can enroll in online courses or courses at your local library to advance your computer skills.

4. Pass a background check

Each candidate for a position in law enforcement or emergency response must submit to and pass a background check as part of the application process. Due to the sensitivity of their position, including their access to the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), police dispatchers will also undergo a background check.

A background check typically includes the following elements:

This includes any convictions and arrests. Most of the time, having a felony conviction can disqualify you from working as a police dispatcher. But the employing call center may decide not to charge small fees. The background investigation will also check the terrorist and criminal watch lists.

The applicant might also need to provide information about their immediate family in some circumstances. This could also include personal data to examine those people’s criminal histories. The background check may also look into your past payments of child support, and delinquent applicants may be disqualified.

A polygraph test involves answering a series of questions while being connected to a machine that determines whether you are telling the truth. Police dispatcher jobs don’t frequently require the polygraph, but in some instances, they might want to confirm your information as part of the hiring process.

5. Obtain certifications

Most states call for you to successfully complete and pass a 9-1-1 operator certification exam. You will gain knowledge of and practice the following skills during the certification process:

There are other optional certifications you can take into consideration in addition to this one that is required. A few organizations you can look into are:

These various organizations offer a variety of certifications, so you can choose the one that best meets your needs. Review the certifications needed in your state or at the job you want. Additionally, they can provide you with information on where to obtain the certifications they need.

6. Finish on-the-job training

You will receive in-depth on-the-job training if you are hired as a police dispatcher. When the calls start coming in, emergency call centers need to be confident that you can handle them. Training includes role-playing exercises, extensive equipment use, and a review of the particular rules and regulations that apply to that call center. You ought to be equipped with all the knowledge and abilities necessary to successfully handle any incoming calls by the end of your training.

FAQs about becoming a police dispatcher

Below are some commonly asked questions related to police dispatchers:

What is the work environment like for police dispatchers?

Typically, this work is done in a call center, where police dispatchers can take calls and use computers to speed up the dispatch procedure. Dispatchers usually work in eight-hour shifts, but overtime is common.

The nature of the work makes police dispatching a job that can be under a lot of pressure. Throughout their shift, dispatchers field numerous calls, each of which could be stressful, urgent, or dangerous. You should be ready to listen to challenging situations as a dispatcher.

Is there a way to experience call dispatching before applying?

Some call centers offer what is called a “sit-along. “With a sit-along, you can spend time in the call center with an agent and learn about their job. This is possibly the best test to see if you want to work as a police dispatcher. Check with a local dispatch office to see if they provide this opportunity. Before taking part in a sit-along, you might have to pass a background investigation.

What are some common job titles for police dispatcher?

Here are a few other job titles you might come across during your search, even though some hiring call centers might refer to the position as a police dispatcher:

Jobs similar to police dispatchers

There are several options for you to consider if you’re interested in working as a police dispatcher or in another profession in a related field. Heres a list of 10 jobs similar to police dispatchers:


Is being a dispatcher hard?

Being a 911 dispatcher is a fast-paced, busy, and above all, rewarding career. Dispatchers are the face—or the ear—of 911 emergency calls as a link in the chain of emergency responders. A dispatcher must be exceptional, and not everyone is suited for the job.

What kind of dispatcher makes the most money?

Other Dispatcher Salaries The highest mean compensation was in the manufacturing of aerospace products and parts, where the average yearly wage was $77,140, or $37 per hour. 08​. Texas boasted the most jobs, with 22,900 positions. In 2019, the annual average salary there was $42,040, or $20. 21​ per hour.

How do you become a 911 operator in Canada?

Employment requirements
  1. Completion of secondary school is required.
  2. Official on-the-job training is required for police and emergency dispatchers.
  3. Radio operators who work for the police, emergency services, or other groups typically need provincial radio operator’s certificates.

What does a dispatcher test consist of?

The Dispatcher exam has more than a dozen test sections that assess four distinct aptitude areas. The examinations cover a variety of skills, such as typing, listening, reading, prioritizing, speech recognition, memory, spatial orientation, and more.

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