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How To Be A Police Dispatcher

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How To Get The Job

Pros and Cons to being a 911 Dispatcher


If you don’t have any relevant work experience, working in a customer service position for a while can help you qualify for a police dispatcher job.


You may need to take and pass a civil service test.


Look at job-search resources like,, and for available positions. You can also visit individual police departments and related agencies online or in-person to apply.

What Is The 911 Dispatcher Exam

The 911 Dispatcher assessment is a test meant specifically for 911 police dispatchers. It is built to help employers understand which job-seekers and graduates will perform well under stress, have the best aptitude for oral and written communication as well as problem solving and critical thinking during emergencies, and have the appropriate skills necessary for the job.

The pre-employment exam is usually a written exam, though it typically is taken on a computer or online. It is important to know that the test varies from state to state, even if all the same basic skills are tested. Since it is one of the primary hiring and recruitment screening systems, however, it is essential to prepare for it.

The test consists of a hundred-and-fifty questions split up between eighteen sub-sections.

Duties Of Police Fire And Ambulance Dispatchers

Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers typically do the following:

  • Answer 9-1-1 emergency telephone and alarm system calls
  • Determine the type of emergency and its location and decide the appropriate response on the basis of agency procedures
  • Relay information to the appropriate first-responder agency
  • Coordinate the dispatch of emergency response personnel to accident scenes
  • Give basic over-the-phone medical instructions before emergency personnel arrive
  • Monitor and track the status of police, fire, and ambulance units
  • Synchronize responses with other area communication centers
  • Keep detailed records of calls

Dispatchers answer calls from people who need help from police, firefighters, emergency services, or a combination of the three. They take emergency, nonemergency, and alarm system calls.

Dispatchers must stay calm while collecting vital information from callers to determine the severity of a situation and the location of those who need help. They then communicate this information to the appropriate first-responder agencies.

Dispatchers keep detailed records of the calls that they answer. They use computers to log important facts, such as the nature of the incident and the caller’s name and location. Most computer systems detect the location of cell phones and landline phones automatically.

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Public Safety Dispatcher Faqs

What is the Public Safety Dispatcher position?

Public safety dispatchers at the UCLA Police Department are full-time, non-sworn employees who, along with other tasks, receive emergency and non-emergency calls for service for law enforcement, fire, and medical aid incidents, and dispatch the appropriate law enforcement, fire, or medical aid personnel, as needed. Please see the POST website for additional information on selection standards at:

Do I have to have prior experience as a Public Safety Dispatcher to apply?

No prior experience is necessary. What the applicant must be able to show is a stable work history that shows reliability, honesty, good work ethics and the ability to adapt to a changing environment.

Will you hire me if I have been arrested or convicted of a crime?

Each applicants circumstances are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. However, felony convictions will make you ineligible. It is possible to be considered for employment with a prior, non-felony arrest and/or conviction.

Am I eligible to be hired if I experimented with drugs a long time ago?

Again, each applicants circumstances are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. It is possible to be considered for employment with prior drug use.

What is the hiring process?

You must:

  • Pass a written examination
  • Pass an oral interview
  • Be able to type 35 words per minute and submit a typing test certificate prior to beginning the background investigation
  • Work Environment For Police Fire And Ambulance Dispatchers

    How to Become a 911 Dispatcher

    Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers hold about 98,300 jobs. The largest employers of police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers are as follows:

    Local government, excluding education and hospitals 80%
    Hospitals state, local, and private 2%

    Dispatchers typically work in communication centers, often called public safety answering points . Some dispatchers work for unified communication centers, where they answer calls for all types of emergency services, while others may work specifically for police or fire departments.

    Work as a dispatcher can be stressful. Dispatchers often work long shifts, take many calls, and deal with troubling situations. Some calls require them to assist people who are in life-threatening situations, and the pressure to respond quickly and calmly can be demanding.

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    Obtain The Necessary Education And Training

    Emergency dispatch jobs in Chicago are specialized for callers that require a response from the police and those that involve the fire department. A number of local and online schools offer associates or bachelors degrees in criminal justice or communicationscommon degrees that students obtain when they are seeking to become a 911 dispatcher. The requirements to become a police communications operator are different from those of a fire communications operator.

    Police Dispatch You only need to have a high school diploma to become a police communications operator. Having a college degree in a relevant field such as communications or emergency management gives you a greater chance of being hired in a competitive job market.

    Fire and EMS Dispatch To apply for a job dispatching fire and emergency response personnel you need to have a working knowledge of emergency medical procedures and be certified as an Emergency Medical Technician/B. In Chicago, you can learn the emergency medical skills needed to become a fire communications operator by obtaining a certificate at a local school.

    What Is The 911 Dispatcher Medical Exam

    The main purpose of the 911 dispatcher medical exam is to ensure that you are physically able to do this job. It’s not a requirement, but the vast majority of employers do require dispatchers to pass a physical in order for them to be hired.

    The most common issues found during these exams relate to hearing and vision , as well as back problems .

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    Don’t Put Your Career On Hold Sign Up With Monster

    Before you can put these sample dispatcher interview questions and answers to use, you need to start applying for jobs. Set up your free profile at Monster, and start clicking on dispatcher jobs. When you sign up, we’ll keep you updated with free job notifications and career advice sent right to your inbox.

    Telecommunicator 1 / Police Dispatcher / Emergency Medical Dispatcher

    A closer look into being a 911 Dispatcher

    Answered emergency and non-emergency call lines for all member agencies and simultaneously enter pertinent information into the computer using a Computer Aided Dispatch System.

    • Calmed, negotiated, advised and provided instructions to callers to obtain accurate and essential information necessary to establish priority and initiate a timely response to emergency calls.
    • Dispatched police, fire and medical units as appropriate via radio transmissions anticipated problems and responded to units as necessary.
    • Continually updated information as it was received, entered into the CAD and updated units as to new information or instructions including follow up and updated status of calls
    • Processed more than one call at a time.
    • Assisted co-workers as necessary when available.
    • Represented the Center while participating in local, regional or state functions related to public safety.
    • Maintained accurate records
    • Obtained and maintained certification for Emergency Medical Dispatch through APCO.
    • Obtained and maintained certification from APCO in Public Safety Telecommunicator 1 and Advanced Fire Communications.

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    How Do I Get Hired As A Dispatcher In The Us

    What Does A 911 Dispatcher Do?

    What Training Does A 911 Dispatcher Get?

    • Telecommunications
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    How to Become A 911 Dispatcher

    How to Get A Dispatcher Job

    Your Success

    Question #: How Would You Help A Caller Who Was Panicking

    As a 911 dispatcher, you’ll often encounter callers who are in a panic. Employers will gauge your ability to remain calm, provide clear steps, and handle an emergency situation as quickly and efficiently as possible with pointed 911 dispatcher interview questions. Here’s what you should discuss:

    • How you would initially address a panicking caller.
    • What steps you would take to address the emergency.

    How You Could Answer

    “When addressing a caller who is in a state of panic, I think it’s very important to be empathetic and aware of words that could upset them or create further anxiety. I would start by calmly asking them to state their emergency. I would then ask them to briefly describe what is happening, so I can dispatch the right emergency personnel and give them the necessary information, so they know what to expect upon arrival. I would provide calming and helpful advice to the caller while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.”

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    How To Become A Police Dispatcher

    A police dispatcher is just one of many careers within the fields of law enforcement and emergency response. These professionals answer 9-1-1 calls, provide assistance and support over the phone and coordinate emergency help. If you are interested in serving your community and becoming a police dispatcher, there are some training and skills required for the job.

    In this article, we explore what a police dispatcher does and how you can become one.

    Police Fire And Ambulance Dispatcher Salaries

    A Day in the Life of a 911 Dispatcher

    The median annual wage for police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers is $43,290. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $67,150.

    The median annual wages for police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

    State government, excluding education and hospitals $50,520
    Ambulance services $38,450

    Most dispatchers work 8- to 12-hour shifts, but some agencies require even longer ones. Overtime is common in this occupation.

    Because emergencies can happen at any time, dispatchers are required to work some shifts on evenings, weekends, and holidays.

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    What Is The Work Environment Like For Police Dispatchers

    This job is typically performed within a call center, where police dispatchers can answer phones and use computers to aid the dispatch process. Dispatchers usually work in eight-hour shifts, but overtime is common.

    Due to the nature of the work, police dispatching can be a very high-pressure job. Dispatchers take many calls throughout their shift, each one of which can be a potentially stressful, time-sensitive or dangerous situation. As a dispatcher, you should also be prepared for listening to difficult situations.

    Meeting The General Job Requirements

  • 1Earn a high school diploma. Almost every police dispatcher position requires that you have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. These positions also require that you are at least 18 years old. If you have not yet graduated from high school or you are pursing your GED, you must successfully complete one of these programs in order to be considered for a dispatcher position.XResearch source
  • 2Maintain a clear criminal record. Most dispatcher jobs require that you pass a criminal background check and in some cases, may require that you pass a lie detector test. If you were arrested for a minor offense, this may not prevent you from becoming a police dispatcher. As discussed below, once you have identified an open position, you can determine whether you meet the specific requirements for that position.Advertisement
  • 3Develop basic typing skills. Police dispatchers are required to type information quickly and accurately. Most police dispatcher positions will require you to demonstrate basic typing skills, such as speed and accuracy as part of the application process. In preparation, you should practice typing until you are able to type 35 words per minute with 90% accuracy. XResearch source You can check your accuracy and typing speed by using a free online typing test.
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    Fire And Police Dispatch Job Training

    Many emergency call centers hire 911 operators with a high school diploma or GED. Some agencies may prefer that candidates have college experience though it may not be required, earning college credit can prepare prospective dispatchers to work with the various databases and software suites used in emergency response. However, nearly all police dispatcher positions require candidates to have at least one or two years of customer service experience, preferably in a fast-paced telecommunications environment. Those who wish to pursue police dispatcher jobs should also have above-average typing speeds without compromising accuracy.

    Once hired, 911 dispatchers should expect to be in training for up to 18 months as they learn how to use their agencyâs emergency communications systems to respond to calls quickly and effectively. As part of this training, new operators will learn the basics of first respondersâ capabilities in order to understand how to prioritize and route personnel. Police dispatchers will learn basic first aid with a focus on being able to walk callers through performing CPR and similar life-saving measures when necessary. Training for fire and police dispatch jobs will also include learning how to operate a teletype machine in order to be able to take calls from the hearing impaired.

    How To Prepare For The 911 Dispatcher Test

    How to Become a 911 Dispatcher

    The best way to study for the Dispatcher test is by practicing the same question types you’ll face on the real test together with the same tight time limits. This will ensure you know how to work fast while making as few mistakes as possible.

    JobTestPrep has created a complete 911 Dispatcher test preparation kit that will help you prep for almost any Dispatcher exam in the country.

    Here’s what you get once you sign up:

    • Practice tests that accurately cover the subjects being evaluated on the real Dispatcher tests
    • Step-by-step explanations showing the quickest & easiest solving methods for every question
    • Focused exercises to strengthen specific dispatch skills that demand improvement

    Instant Access & Money-back Guarantee

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    What Is The Dispatcher Personality Test

    The dispatcher personality test is a set of questions that you will be asked during the hiring process. The reason for these questions will be to determine whether your personality fits the job description.

    You may also be subjected to similar types of tests while employed as a 911 dispatcher, such as surveys and questionnaires designed to rate your performance and behavior in high-pressure situations.

    Emergency Dispatch Typing Test How To Improve Your Typing Speed And Accuracy

    Emergency Dispatch Typing Test How to Improve your typing speed and accuracy!Many 911 operator positions require candidates to achieve approximately 40 – 45 words per minute on a typing test with very high accuracy.

    You can practice for your typing test for free. To prepare, you will want to practice typing for at least 5 minutes. Since emergency call takers and 911 operators use a standard keyboard and not a laptop, you should practice on a regular keyboard. With regular practice, you can improve your skills.

    How many words-per-minute do I need to be able to type? Each organization has different standards. For example: For an Ambulance Communications Officer with the Ontario Ministry of Health, they are looking for 35 w.p.m. with 90% accuracy. Candidates for the Communications Operator selection process with Toronto Police are required to type 40 w.p.m. A fire services dispatcher with the City of Oshawa is required to demonstrate a typing speed of 35 w.p.m. So, to factor in test anxiety on the day of your test, you should aim to be able to type at a speed of 45 w.p.m.

    Keep your mind and fingers flexible and practice using a variety of methods.

    911 Operator Resources – Improve your Typing Speed & Accuracy

    CritiCall Practice Tests – Over 1550 practice questions and 30 simulated 911 callsKeyHero – Check your speed and words-per-minute Typing Test – This webpage has 1, 3, and 5-minute typing tests.

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    What If I Don’t Know What Test Is Used By My Agency

    If you don’t know what agency you’re applying to and what test is used by it, we encourage you to contact your potential employer or the one that’s offering you the position. Ask them for a detailed description of the selection process, including the tests that are administered and their duration.

    Nevertheless, the prep pack found on this page covers all topics and question types appearing on most of the dispatcher tests in the U.S. and Canada.

    Top 3 Police Dispatcher Jobs

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    • Stanley, Black and DeckerLacey, WA

      As a Call Center Dispatcher , you will provide support to those who make the world safer. This is an … This will typically include telephone calls to customers, police & fire authorities * Document all …


      This individual, will learn 9-1-1 call taking and dispatch duties for the City of Turlock Police and Fire Departments, receive and dispatch incoming calls from external and internal customers, learn …

    • Dispatcher PS Durant Resort SecurityChoctaw Nation of OklahomaMilburn, OK

      Responsible for dispatching emergency and non-emergency calls for Tribal Police , Tribal Security and Tribal EMS. Start Rate: $14.13 Primary Tasks: * Knowledge of personal computers and basic computer …

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    Job Prospects For Police Fire And Ambulance Dispatchers

    Overall job prospects should be favorable due to employment growth and the need to replace dispatchers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.

    Those who can handle demanding schedules and who have strong communication and typing skills should have the best job prospects.

    Employment projections data for Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers, 2019-29

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