How to Become a Dispatcher

Excellent communication is a vital function of a variety of public safety and transportation fields. Trained professionals are required to maintain contact and receive calls for provide assistance, and coordinate activities for many different services such as police, emergency services, and taxis. This is the job of dispatchers.


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What does a dispatcher do?

Dispatchers are responsible for all the communications in a specific area. They schedule and dispatch workers, service vehicles, and equipment to transport passengers or materials. They maintain logs, records, and schedules of received calls and transportation vehicles. Many dispatchers are public safety dispatchers that dispatch police and emergency services units for public assistance. They ask the caller questions to determine the type, location, and seriousness of the problem. Sometimes they provide the caller with first-aid instructions before services arrive to the location. Other dispatchers organize deliveries, service calls, and other tasks for a variety of transportation companies such as trucking companies, public bus companies, trains, taxi companies, and tow-truck services. They organize the movement of vehicles and passengers or cargo between locations. Sometimes dispatchers also act as customer service representatives.

What kind of training does a dispatcher need?

Dispatchers need at least a high school diploma. Many learn their skills through on the job training by working with experienced dispatchers. They learn to monitor calls and operate many different types of communications equipment such as radios, telephones, and wireless devices. In the public safety field employers provide training in family counseling and crisis and stress management. Many states require dispatchers to complete specific types of training or certification. Some states require public safety dispatchers to become certificated to work on a state network such as the Police Information Network.

What are the prospects for a career as a dispatcher?

Employment of dispatchers is expected to grow more slowly than average for all professions, increasing 6% from 2006 to 2016 (1). A growing population and expansion of the economy will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good, especially for dispatchers with computer skills and extensive experience. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace dispatchers that retire, transfer, or leave the occupation for other reasons.

How much do dispatchers make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of dispatchers earn annual salaries between $30,126 and $41,471. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $47,559 (2).

A career as a dispatcher is a great choice for people interested in providing communication assistance for a public safety or transportation. Dispatchers must have excellent communication and be able to speak clearly on a variety of communication equipment. They must be able to work under stress and pressure and deal with a large volume of calls and sudden changes. Good judgment, problem solving, and ability to make quick decisions are essential skills. They must be able to effectively work as part of a team and respond quickly to situations.

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