Police dispatchers are responsible for communication between those in need and police and emergency services. This is done by taking emergency phone calls, sending out appropriate information for law information and providing accurate contact for information for affected individuals. Dispatchers typically work long hours, such as 12 hour shifts, due to the round-the-clock necessity of emergency services.
Daily tasks for police dispatcher jobs include:
Using a computer-aided dispatch system
Receiving emergency calls from those in need
Determining the nature and location of the incident
Determining the priorities of the situation and contacting police and other emergency services if necessary
Receiving requests from law enforcement officers pertaining to vehicle registration, warrants and criminal history
Operating a variety of communication equipment including phones, computers and radios
Those who are considering a job as a police dispatcher may also consider working as an emergency dispatcher.
Police Dispatcher Job Education Requirements
Only a high school diploma or GED equivalent is necessary to become a police dispatcher, although those with an associate's degree or higher are more likely to obtain a position. Many candidates with a diploma enroll in an emergency services dispatcher certificate program, which is typically offered at most community colleges and trade schools. Employers give extensive on-the-job training to new hires as well. The experience gained from the position may also qualify candidates for other jobs such as police records clerk.
Many states require police dispatchers to be certified through an accredited program. The most widely recognized certification program is through the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch. To become certified, candidates take tests to prove their knowledge of dispatch, law and lifesaving techniques, such as CPR. State governments also offer workshops to help train dispatchers in the field.
Police Dispatcher Job Market
There are currently 98,500 emergency services dispatchers in the country, with about a third of them for police, and and estimated 7,600 positions will become available in coming years. The employment of police dispatchers is expected to grow at a rate of eight percent, which is slightly lower than the average for all other occupations. However, due to the stressful nature of the job, the turnover rate is high, resulting in above average job prospects.
Police Dispatcher Job Salary Information
The average salary for a police dispatcher is $36,300 annually, or $17.45 an hour. Experience enables candidates to become police dispatch supervisors, earning $41,650 a year or $20.02 an hour.