911 operator jobs are very important. Not everyone can be a 911 operator; to be good at it, you need to have a particular set of personality traits and skills. But the happiness you’ll feel from helping needy people is hard to measure.
With a median salary of $43,290, or $20.82 per hour! Being a 911 operator is a great idea because the field is expected to grow by 8% by 2030.
Some states need EMD, ENP, and RPL certifications or licenses.
Every day, thousands of people across the country depend on their local 911 operators (also called 911 dispatchers) to help them quickly when needed. We can’t imagine the world without 911 dispatchers, even though most people don’t know who they are and don’t recognize their vital work.
This job is hard, but when you think about all the good that comes from it, it’s worth it. In this article, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about dispatching 911 calls and how to get started in the field. Before we get into the specifics, let’s discuss what a 911 operator does.
What Does A 911 Operator Do?
A 911 operator is a dispatcher who works for police, fire, or ambulance services and answers calls from the public through the emergency dispatch system. All 911 calls are sent to emergency call centers based on where the caller is in the area where the service is available.
Every day, 911 dispatchers work hard to:
- Talk to people who need medical or police help immediately, give them basic information, and figure out what kind of help they need.
- Take good notes and type up reports of the call or incident as it happens.
- Professionally protect the privacy of the victims and witnesses.
- Try to calm a caller who is panicking, drunk, or hysterical.
- Persuade callers not to commit suicide.
- Even though you get calls daily that could be life or death, stay calm.
- Maybe you want something that has more to do with the medical field.
How To Become A 911 Operator
If you want to work as a 911 operator, you should know that hiring can take a long time. Sometimes, getting hired after applying can take more than a year.
Some basic rules must be followed, and each state may have its own rules. Here are some of the most common things forms ask people to do.
STEP 1: Minimum Requirements
- must be 18 years old or older
- You should be able to type at least 30 words per minute with no more than two mistakes.
- GED or high school diploma
- Having the ability to pass a background check
- Pass a medical exam, a mental health evaluation, and a drug test.
Even though you don’t need a college degree, taking classes or getting an associate’s degree in criminal justice can help you get a job and give you more chances to move up in your career.
STEP 2: Apprenticeship Or Internship (Optional)
Employers will always want to hire people with experience in customer service, call center work, or dispatch, even if it’s not required. Try to find an internship or apprenticeship in the field to set yourself apart from other applicants.
Many people who want to be 911 dispatchers also benefit from doing internships like:
- Internships for police: You can learn about different parts of police work and get hands-on experience by working in a 911 dispatch center for a law enforcement agency.
- Internships for firefighters: When you intern as a firefighter, you can learn about different parts of the emergency services field and try other possible careers.
- Internships in the emergency medical service: You can learn about the ambulance system, how 911 works, what happens when someone calls for help, and more through these programs.
- Internships in emergency management: Emergency management agencies can teach you everything from basic first aid to advanced search and rescue techniques through hands-on training.
Like an internship, volunteering can also be helpful. Many programs look for people willing to help during emergencies and natural disasters. This is an excellent way to get experience and show potential employers how responsible and helpful you are.
STEP 3: Needed Education and Training
Different states and cities have different rules about how much schooling you need. If you want to be a dispatcher and you get the job, in most states, you will have to go through a training program, and you may also get training on the job.
You can also choose online training through the Emergency Communications Accreditation Council if you want to stand out from other applicants (ECAC). Approved trainers made the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program to cover all needed skills and topics.
STEP 4: Getting tested or certified
Testing to be a 911 operator is a very competitive process that includes several screening tests to test your skills.
These are some of the most common ways 911 call centers test their equipment:
- Typing test: Typing speed is a big part of the hiring process because all 911 dispatchers have to type their notes while they talk to callers. Before they interview you or ask you to take a formal typing test at the dispatch center, many recruiters also use online typing tests to check your speed.
- Oral exams: You will have to solve several case studies and scenarios in an oral exam. They will test your common sense, how well you can use the information given, how well you can think critically, and how well you can solve problems.
- Simulations: Most of the time, a simulation test will be an audio recording that you must listen to, understand, and respond to by transferring or dispatching the right call.
- Written tests: Most 911 call centers use written tests with multiple choice or true/false questions to see how well you can solve problems, think critically, understand different types of calls, and what you know in general.
How to be a 911 operator and what skills you need to do the job
Before you apply to be a 911 operator, you should make sure you know everything there is to know about the job. This information should be on the PSAP’s website or a local job posting.
Most of the time, a 911 operator or dispatcher is responsible for the following:
- Taking calls from people who need police, fire, and other emergency medical services
- figuring out the best ways to respond and putting situations in order of importance
- Asking callers questions to find out where they are and what kind of emergency it is
- Getting data from automated data systems and teletype networks and putting it in
- Calling emergency response units to find out if they are ready to be sent out.
- Keeping a record of all calls, messages, and dispatches
Also, the details of the position often have the primary skill sets and knowledge needed for the job.
911 dispatchers should show the following traits:
- A strong command of the English language in both written and spoken forms
- Show that you know about state laws, agency rules, government regulations, and legal codes.
- Show that you understand how computer programs, hardware, and software work.
- Show that you are familiar with the area where you will be working.
- Knowledge of both administrative and clerical procedures, such as word processing, stenography, and transcription
- Ability to identify complicated situations, evaluate them, come up with workable solutions, and put those solutions into action promptly
- Must be able to communicate well and use logic and reasoning when necessary.
Take part in preliminary testing and training for a job.
Most of the time, you have to go through a long process to become a 911 operator or dispatcher. It can have these things:
- Interview with one person
- research into the past
- skills test
- panel interview
- full medical exam
- A psychological checkup
Once you get the job, most agencies require you to finish a 911 dispatcher/operator training program. This program includes both ongoing classes and training on the job. Each agency will set its training standards, but most will stick to the state’s standards. Most courses in the program for training dispatchers and operators will usually cover the following:
- How to Talk on the Phone
- Advanced First Aid, CPR, and AED
- Critical Incident Stress
- Dangerous things
- Suicide Intervention
- Medical Help in an Emergency
- Domestic Violence
- Training for TTY
Most states will require about 40 hours of training at the start, plus a certain number of continuing education and training hours. In addition to state training, many states use training programs offered by industry groups to do things like:
- Association of Communications Officials in Public Safety (APCO)
- Organization for the National Emergency Number (NENA)
- Emergency Dispatch National Academies (NAED)
Pros & Cons Of Being A 911 Operator
Every job has its pros and cons. Here are some details about what it’s like to work at 911:
- Get fair pay and work in a pleasant place where your bosses and coworkers will help you out.
- It can be enriching to be able to help people when they are in trouble.
- You can find a good balance between work and your personal life if you work part-time.
- You can work anywhere in the world if you have a stable internet connection and the right tools.
- Most training programs for 911 operators are short and can be done on your own time.
- Public service employees enjoy excellent benefits packages.
- You need to stay professional even if the person on the other end of the line is rude or violent.
- Even for the most experienced operators, the job can be hard on the body and the mind.
- Even if the caller is yelling or hard to understand, you must pay close attention to the details.
- You might have to work long hours at odd times, like in the middle of the night or on the weekend.
How Much Do 911 Operators Make?
In 2020, the Labor Department of the United States said that the average salary for all 911 operators was $43,290 per year. That means that half of all dispatchers will make more than that amount, and the other half will make less.
Your salary will depend on where you live, your experience, and whether you work full-time. If you want to raise your rates, you can become a certified emergency police dispatcher (EPD), emergency fire dispatcher (EFD), or emergency medical dispatcher (EMD) (EMD). It’s the best way to show that you have the skills and experience needed for this job.
Job Prospects for 911 Operators
In the United States, there are about 95,400 people who work as 911 operators. Even though there is a lot of competition, it shouldn’t be hard to find work in this field because there are many turnovers.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also says that between 2020 and 2030, the number of jobs for emergency dispatchers is likely to grow by 8%.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
You can find out the best pay jobs in basic industries in the United States and here are some of the people’s most common questions about this job. If you have any other questions that aren’t answered here, send us an email or leave a comment, and we’ll add them.
How Long Does It Take To Become A 911 Operator?
Most places take about 18 months to train someone to be a 911 operator.
Is Being A 911 Operator A Hard Job?
Yes, working for 911 is a hard job. Dealing with emergencies and the stress of the job can be hard on a person’s mental health.
Do 911 Operators Have To Go To College?
No, you don’t have to go to college to become a 911 operator. However, having a degree can help you get a promotion or move up in the company.
Is working as a 911 dispatcher hard?
As a 911 dispatcher, your job is fast-paced, busy, and, most of all, rewarding. As part of a chain of people who help when someone calls 911, dispatchers are the first people who see or hear what’s going on. It takes a particular person to be a good dispatcher; not everyone is cut out for the job.
How stressful is a 911 operator job?
In addition to the demands of the job, dispatchers can get traumatic calls that hurt their emotional health. Nearly one-third of 911 calls cause the dispatchers to feel peritraumatic distress. The stress was linked to post-traumatic stress disorder in a study by the Journal of Traumatic Stress (PTSD).
How are 911 operator jobs and dispatcher jobs different?
A dispatcher may be the person who takes the first call and sends the right workers or units to the scene. On the other hand, the operator coordinates any other work that needs to be done after the first call. As this person, it’s your job to ensure that units can talk to each other.
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2 thoughts on “911 Operator Jobs Guide | What Qualifications Do I Need to Be A 911 Operator”
My name is Desistu Negasa Gemeda,Recently I graduated from accounting & finance department with total CGPA 2.84;on August 2022 at wellega university which located in western Ethiopia,I need to be your employee from my heart if you have job opportunity from my country ethiopia.
I’m interested and I’m friendly reliable helpful hardworking self-motivated and I believe in team work and also can work well individually