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Police Dispatcher: Job & Career Info

Learn what police dispatchers do. See what the education and training requirements are for this job. Get career prospects and earning potential to see if this job is a good fit for you.

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Career Definition

Police dispatchers are communication professionals who receive and respond to emergency phone calls from the public. Police dispatchers calmly question their callers to determine the nature of an emergency and then send appropriate emergency services to the scene. In some cases, police dispatchers administer medical advice to their callers.

Become a Police Dispatcher

Education Requirements

A career as a police dispatcher requires a high school diploma. Newly hired police dispatchers also complete several months of on-the-job training. Training commonly includes eight weeks of classroom instruction, followed by a period monitoring calls and learning about equipment at a dispatch center.

Certification Requirements

Certification requirements for police dispatchers vary by state. Police dispatchers may also earn voluntary professional certifications that affirm dispatchers' specialized skills or abilities.

Required Skills

Police dispatchers must have good clerical and communication skills. They also must be able to work fast and stay calm in high-pressure situations. Police dispatchers should be prepared to work late nights and holidays since call centers are open all the time.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, police, fire, and ambulance dispatcher jobs are expected to increase by 8% from 2012-2022, which is close to average. Opportunities should be greatest for workers with technical and communication skills. The median annual wage for police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers was $36,300 in 2012, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Emergency Medical Technician

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are high school graduates who hold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and have completed a 1-2 year training program. They have also passed a national certification exam and in some states, met licensing requirements. EMTs respond to 911 calls that require emergency medical assistance, such as for people experiencing severe illness or injury like breathing trouble or blunt force trauma. They also transport patients to the hospital, although additional training may be required to drive an ambulance. The BLS reports that jobs for EMTs are expected to increase 23% from 2012-2022; the agency also reported that EMTs earned median pay of $31,020 in 2012.

Customer Service Representative

A customer service representative provides assistance to people through a variety of outlets, such as in person or by phone, email or online chat. People reach out to customer service representatives for help with placing or changing product or service orders, making changes to their accounts, and resolving errors and complaints. Customer service representatives also answer general information queries. Customer service representatives are usually high school graduates who have completed on-the-job training to learn their employers' guidelines for standards of communication and problem solving. Customer service representatives who work in the insurance industry may be subject to state licensing requirements. According to the BLS, jobs in this field are predicted to grow 13% from 2012-2022, and these jobs paid median wages of $30,580 in 2012.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics