How to Become a 911 Dispatcher The Ultimate Guide

A 911 dispatcher is one of the most heroic people. Sacrificing their life, staying away from the comfort of their own families, and what not!

And if you are here, you surely want that feather on your cap, don’t you? And, I cannot begin to tell how proud I am of you, ALREADY!

Did you know- The typical annual salary for a 911 Dispatcher in the United States is $39,421?

A job as a 911 dispatcher ?may be ideal for you if you want to be the reassuring voice that directs first responders to individuals in need. 

Do you have a strong desire to assist those in need? Do you do well in stressful circumstances and have outstanding interpersonal abilities?? 

Well before, I help you understand how to become a 911 dispatcher, why not answer a few questions first? 

  1. How are you at communicating with people? 

a) Excellent 

b) Good 

c) Fair 

d) Poor

  1. Do you think you can handle multiple tasks at one time? 

a) Very well 

b) Moderately well 

c) Somewhat well 

d) Not well at all

  1. What is your reaction to stressful situations? 

a) Stay calm and composed 

b) Remain somewhat composed but get stressed 

c) Become noticeably stressed 

d) Panic and lose composure

  1. Can you adapt to changing situations? 

a) Highly adaptable 

b) Moderately adaptable 

c) Somewhat adaptable 

d) Not adaptable

  1. Can you work irregular hours, including late nights, weekends, and holidays? 

a) Yes, I am willing and able 

b) I’m willing, but it might be challenging 

c) I’m not sure 

d) No, I’m not willing or able

If most of your answers are positive, congratulations! You are on the high-side to become a 911 dispatcher.

In this post, I’ll examine the unique actions you may take to start down this fruitful road. ?

I will guide you through each step, from comprehending the particular requirements in your field to developing your talents, acquiring knowledge, and handling the hiring process.

Let’s explore the realm of 911 dispatching and learn how you may help those in need when they need you most. 

Who is a 911 Dispatcher?

A 911 dispatcher, additionally referred to as an emergency dispatcher or a public safety dispatcher, is a qualified individual in charge of taking and handling citizen calls for help. 

They are the vital connection that connects those in need with the proper emergency assistance providers. The dispatcher receives the phone when someone calls 911 and learns crucial data about the incident, including its nature, its location, and any other relevant information. 

They convey vital facts to the emergency personnel, such as the emergency’s specifics and any additional information given by the caller.

You can get all relevant certifications to become a 911 dispatcher, and that too a high paid one.

Scope of 911 Dispatchers

As per BLS, the hiring of 911 dispatchers will grow by 4 percent by 2031. Currently, there are more than 65,611 911 emergency dispatchers in active employment within the United States. 

Trained and skilled 911 dispatchers will always be in demand as the cites keep on expanding. Emergency Response Systems are growing, and as a 911 dispatcher, you will see a steady growth. 

Let me tell about the best dispatcher in the US now- 
Stephen Zipprich was given the title of the “911 Dispatcher of the Year.” Zipprich handled more than thousands of calls, in the Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Communications. He is an inspiration to many would-be 911 dispatchers, and is known for his simplicity and the way he tackles emergency situations. He said, “I am proud that I got it, honored that I got it. Honestly, I’m honored.”

How much can a 911 Dispatcher earn?

As a 911 dispatcher, your focus may not be on how much you are earning. However, you are considering this a profession, so knowing the income is a must!

A 911 dispatcher’s pay may differ based on geography, background, schooling, and the hiring organization. As of May 25, 2023, the average 911 Dispatcher pay in the U.S. is $61,915; however, the range frequently lies between $37,500 and $47,800. 

The location, as well as the price of dwelling in a given place, may also have an impact on dispatcher wages. Dispatchers typically make more money when they operate in urban areas or places with greater costs of living.

As per my team’s research, the highest paid dispatchers are in Clark County.

Expert Skill Sets to Become a 911 Dispatcher

I have listed below a few expert skills needed to become a 911 dispatcher.  

  1. Possess Strong Communication Skills: Stephen Zipprich mentions the importance of clear and concise communication. Dispatchers should extract crucial information in stressful situations.
  2. Stay Calm Under Pressure: Dispactchers deal with emergency and life-threatening situations. Staying calm is a skill; it helps make rational decisions.
  3. Ability to Multitask: As mentioned, dispatchers handle multiple calls at once. As per experts like Stephen, you should be able to handle multiple tasks at one go.
  4. Keep learning: You should be up-to-date with emergency response protocols and undergo relevant courses. Expert dispatchers suggest taking additional training and certifications to deal better with emergency situations.
  5. Seek mentorship and strengthen networking: You should build connections in your industry. You can join the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) to build relevant connections.

Responsibilities of a 911 Dispatcher

When you work as a 911 dispatcher, you act as a lifeline for those who are in need by coordinating emergency responses. I shall examine the extensive duties that go along with this honorable position. 

I will dig into the various activities that compose up a dispatcher’s daily schedule, from receiving and handling emergency calls with the greatest attention to detail to gathering crucial information, sending the appropriate responses, and giving necessary support. Here are some responsibilities a 911 dispatcher must undertake ⤵️

Documenting information

In situations of crisis, reliable documentation is essential. In electronic databases or journals, dispatchers record the specifics of each phone call, what was done, and any other pertinent data.

This data acts as a crucial record for future research, evaluation, and legal needs.

Gathering information

Dispatchers are skilled at getting the information they need from callers. This entails identifying the kind of emergency (such as a medical, fire, or criminal incident), the precise location of the occurrence, and any other relevant details that may help with the response.

Maintaining caller calmness

Dispatchers must maintain their composure, patience, and empathy even under the most challenging circumstances. To keep the callers secure and safe until aid arrives, they comfort them and offer directions or guidance.

This might be instructing them in basic first aid, assisting them with evacuations, or advising them on staying safe in dangerous circumstances.

Dispatching emergency services

Dispatchers assign the right emergency personnel based on the type and whereabouts of the incident using advanced computer networks and dispatching software.

They organize the dispatch of law enforcement officers, firemen, paramedics, and other emergency personnel.

Communicating with responders

Dispatchers act as a crucial conduit for interaction between callers and emergency agencies. They provide vital facts to the attending units, including the emergency’s specifics, any updates given by the caller, and any dangers or risks present at the location.

They could also get updates from first responders and, if necessary, convey them to the callers.

Providing support to responders

Dispatchers are in constant contact with the deploying units, providing assistance as well as data in real-time.

This can entail giving more information, organizing the deployment of more resources, or directing emergency personnel to the precise scene of the incident.

Multitasking and prioritizing

Dispatchers frequently manage many situations at once. They must multitask well, giving callers the attention they need and allocating resources properly.

Quick judgment and good management of time-sensitive circumstances are necessary for this.

Following protocols and procedures

Dispatchers follow standardized operational procedures, regulations, and rules.

These procedures provide a reliable and effective crisis intervention procedure, enabling dispatchers to manage crises skillfully and uphold a high standard of professionalism.

Top Courses that a 911 Dispatcher Must Complete

A certain set of abilities and expertise are needed to manage emergencies and offer life-saving assistance to distressed callers to become a 911 dispatcher. 911 dispatchers, whether aspiring or already employed, must finish specific training and pertinent courses to thrive in this crucial profession.

These programs provide dispatchers the know-how they need to manage varied emergencies, guarantee proper communication, and reach important judgments in hurried situations. 

Let’s take a closer look at the best courses that can equip you as a 911 dispatcher and enable you to significantly impact the lives of individuals in times of disaster. ⤵️

Domestic Violence

The purpose of domestic violence training for police dispatchers is to give dispatchers the expertise and abilities needed to manage and react to domestic violence calls. 

This specific domestic violence training seeks to make certain that police dispatchers possess the expertise, abilities, and sympathy necessary to serve sufferers of domestic violence successfully and organize the proper responses from authorities.

  1. Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault for Public Safety Dispatchers – 

Course fee- Not available

Duration- One-day course


A telecommunications course for police dispatchers offers thorough instruction on the fundamental abilities and information needed to interact with and handle technical gadgets in a dispatch center. 

They develop expertise in the use of telecommunications networks, organizing emergency responses, and upholding precise and clear interaction, thereby playing a crucial role in the security of the public.

  1. Telecommunicator’s Training- 911 Basic 40 Hour Course – 

Course fee- $200 for non-residents and $175 for residents. 

Duration of course- 40 hours.

  1. Public Safety Telecommunicator – 

Course fee- $277 

Duration of course- 80 hours

  1. Emergency Telecommunications – 

Course fee- Available only after registration

Duration of course- 10 weeks

Critical Incident Stress

Police dispatchers who may experience worry, agony, or mental health issues as a result of their involvement in critical occurrences should take a critical incident stress course. This course focuses on giving these dispatchers the education and assistance they need. 

This training aims to provide dispatchers with the knowledge they need to cope with stress and build resilience by assisting them in understanding the effects of critical occurrences on their health. 

Crisis Communications: Managing a Critical Incident for Public Safety Dispatchers– 

Seminar Duration- 2 days

Listed below are a few other courses that you should ideally opt for if you want to be a dispatcher.

Suicide Intervention

A suicide intervention course is intended to give police dispatchers particular training in identifying and handling suicidal callers. Identifying and helping those in need, especially those who are thinking about suicide, is something that dispatchers are extremely important in. 

Through their sympathetic and knowledgeable involvement, they play a crucial part in giving urgent assistance, directing people to the right services, and sometimes even saving lives.

CPR/First Aid/AED

A CPR/First Aid/AED course is intended to give police dispatchers fundamental training in life-saving procedures and rapid response abilities. Dispatchers frequently find that they’re in the situation of having to advise and help callers who are experiencing medical emergencies. 

This training gives dispatchers the information and abilities they need to evaluate situations, provide basic first aid, conduct cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and, if required, use automated external defibrillators (AEDs). 


Police dispatchers can receive specific training and information on handling terrorist-related occurrences by taking a terrorism course.

The goal of the training is to give dispatchers the knowledge and abilities needed to efficiently manage emergency calls and plan responses to terrorist acts or threats. 

Police dispatchers who have taken terrorism training are far more equipped to respond to occurrences involving terrorism, give correct information to first responders, and help protect public safety.

How to Become a 911 Dispatcher (Tips)

You will be a key player in responding to emergencies as a 911 dispatcher, guaranteeing the security and welfare of those who are in need. A career as a 911 dispatcher may be the best fit for you if you are enthusiastic about improving the lives of others in times of need.

These tailored tips will provide you with useful advice and perspectives to put you on the correct road, no matter if you are just beginning your career or thinking about a change to emergency dispatching. 

Therefore, let’s explore the world of 911 dispatching and learn the vital advice that will enable you to become a competent and sympathetic 911 dispatcher, prepared to face obstacles and have a good influence during emergencies. ⤵️

Research the role

Spend some time learning about and comprehending the duties of a 911 dispatcher. Look at the particular responsibilities related to managing dispatching systems, working with first responders, and handling emergency calls.

You may use this information to decide whether or not this career path fits your hobbies and skills.

Meet the qualifications

Examine the criteria and specifications established by your local authority or agency. Age limitations, educational requirements, background checks, and certain qualifications are a few examples. 

Before applying for a dispatcher position, be sure you satisfy all the requirements. Additionally, certain organizations could need extra credentials or specialized training.

You are required to meet specific minimum criteria, which generally include being a minimum of 18 years old and holding a high school diploma or GED. 

Pursue relevant education

While a college education may not be required, earning a degree in a related discipline, such as emergency management or criminal justice, might provide you with a solid grounding in the subject. 

To further improve your knowledge of emergency response systems and practices, think about earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Develop strong communication skills

A 911 dispatcher’s ability to communicate effectively is essential. To guarantee you comprehend callers’ demands and obtain required information, engage in active listening.

Practice talking clearly and simply and keeping a professional demeanor. Learn how to deal with various caller types and use proper phone manners.

Obtain necessary certifications

Find out whether your region has any particular credentials that are necessary or advisable for 911 dispatchers.

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), first aid, emergency medical dispatch, and instruction in certain dispatch computer programs are common credentials. These certificates prove your dedication to the industry and advance your knowledge.

Here are the top 5 certifications as per Zippia- 

Rank911 Emergency Dispatcher certificationOrganization
1Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)NREMT
2Emergency Medical Dispatcher Certification (EMD)IAED
3Emergency Medical DispatcherAPCO
4Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)NHA
5Commercial Driver License (CDL)FMCSA

These certifications can help you land a job and also, get you a better pay range. 

Gain relevant experience

In professions that require addressing emergency circumstances or performing duties under high-stress conditions, look for chances to gain expertise.

Your chances of landing a dispatcher employment might be increased by volunteering as a dispatcher or taking on customer service roles that demand problem-solving and strong interpersonal abilities. 

You might have to subject yourself to the CritiCall Dispatcher Test as well. As per my experience, this test varies from one State or Country to another. 

Develop multitasking and critical thinking abilities

Dispatchers frequently have to manage numerous jobs concurrently while making important judgments. Engage in tasks that call you to juggle many obligations to practice multitasking.

By practicing problem-solving techniques, keeping up with current affairs, and learning emergency protocols, you may improve your critical thinking abilities.

Familiarize yourself with emergency protocols

Learn about the emergency protocols and processes used by your local authority or organization.

Learn the exact codes, lingo, and processes that are applied during emergency dispatching. You’ll be able to adjust to the process more quickly and be better equipped to deal with emergencies thanks to this expertise. 

Stay calm under pressure

Let me tell you, being a 911 dispatcher is not an easy job- you are going to handle all kinds of calls. 

But, a 911 dispatcher must learn how to maintain composure and concentration under duress. Find healthy coping strategies to handle stress, such as mindfulness training, frequent physical activity, or talking to friends and family for support.

Think about enrolling in classes or attending seminars on endurance and handling stress.

Network and seek mentorship

Make contact with experts that are already employed in the emergency dispatching industry. Attend business conferences, sign up for websites or discussion boards, and take part in networking activities to broaden your circle of connections. 

Seek mentoring relationships with seasoned dispatchers who can give advice, impart their knowledge, and offer assistance throughout your professional path.

You could also know how a 911 dispatcher manger their day by watching this video from South Metro Fire Rescue Centennial, Colorado. This will help you understand what the critical day of 911 dispatcher looks like. 

Where to find job opportunities online?

Knowing where to look for suitable job openings online is crucial as you start your quest to land a position as a 911 dispatcher.

Join me as we examine the internet channels that can link you to the career prospects you’ve been looking for, regardless of if you are just beginning your path or looking for new chances in the industry. Let’s get started and learn where to look for online employment possibilities for 911 dispatchers. ⤵️

Government job portals

Visit the respective websites of the regional, state, and federal organizations in charge of providing emergency assistance. They frequently offer specialized employment sites or advertisements just for careers in public safety or as 911 dispatchers. 

Examples include the web pages of state and local governments as well as USAJOBS (for opportunities with the U.S. federal government).

Job search engines

Make use of well-known job-search tools like Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. You may use these sites to look for dispatcher jobs by using various criteria, including region and keywords.

Postings from a variety of organizations, such as governmental bodies, for-profit crisis dispatching centers, and public safety groups, are frequently included.

Law enforcement agency websites

Visit the websites of the local police departments. Numerous police agencies and sheriff’s departments run their crisis dispatch facilities and frequently list employment vacancies on their websites.

For dispatcher openings, keep a watch on their professional website or job pages.

Emergency communication center websites

Visit the web pages of the urgent call or contact centers in your area. There may be individual recruiting pages for these centers where they post job openings for dispatchers.

Look for facilities connected to emergency response teams, fire departments, or police departments.

Professional associations

Join groups and organizations for professionals who work in emergency dispatching, such as the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) or the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).

These organizations frequently provide services for members to locate career possibilities in the industry, such as job boards.

Networking Platforms

Networking sites may be useful tools for 911 dispatchers looking for employment prospects. Use professional social media networks like LinkedIn to make connections with people in the 911 dispatching industry.

Join appropriate forums and organizations, take part in conversations, and keep up with job posts published by colleagues.

Local job boards

Observe regional or local employment boards that are particular to your location. Websites for the local community, local media, and online job boards are a few examples. For dispatcher vacancies in law enforcement departments or organizations, check often. 

You may take advantage of employment possibilities that are local to your area and raise your chances of landing a suitable job as a 911 dispatcher in your neighborhood by utilizing local job boards.

Key Takeaways

It takes guts and kindness to be a 911 dispatcher, and I am ever so proud of you. 

A 911 dispatcher is a job that takes a strong mind and a calm soul. You can go about becoming a 911 dispatcher by proving your abilities as an individual, working hard, and getting the necessary certifications. Finding jobs in this field can be tricky but worry not; I believe in you! ?

If this post has helped and inspired you, I would love to know! Also, if you are stuck anywhere or need a better explanation of anything mentioned in my post- drop a comment, and my team will get back to you. 

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