911 Operator Advancement Opportunities

Jun 14, 2018

911 operators work at call centers to provide immediate assistance in emergency settings. These professionals may wish to seek career growth in other emergency or prevention positions.

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Career Growth Opportunities for 911 Operators

911 operators, also known as dispatchers, play a crucial role in providing emergency services to the public. This position, requiring a high school diploma, requires individuals to answer calls from the public and choose a response that will meet the safety needs of the community. 911 operators must develop the ability to remain calm under pressure and provide excellent services. After working in this position, dispatchers may wish to consider other positions in the public safety field. Some opportunities are presented below.

Job Title Median Salary* (2017) Job Growth* (2016-2026) Education
Firefighters $49,080 7% Fire academy
Police Officer $61,050 7% Police academy
Emergency Management Director $72,760 8% Bachelor's degree
Air Traffic Controller $124,540 3% Associate's degree

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information


911 operators need to ensure a quick response to public emergencies. This ability to respond quickly is also a pertinent skill for firefighters. Firefighters respond to calls by driving fire trucks or other emergency vehicles, and then extinguishing fires using appropriate tools. Firefighters may rescue fire victims and treat injuries until medical help is available. They may provide fire safety education, as well. Firefighters typically must hold a high school diploma and then attend a fire academy, pass an exam, and are often also certified as emergency medical technicians. They must also possess a driver's license, and may be required to be a resident of the municipality where they work.

Police Officer

Dispatchers have experience in responding professionally in challenging situations. A career as a police officer might be a great next step. Police officers conduct patrols in a specific area. While on patrol, police officers are on the lookout for any suspected criminal activity and may respond to emergency calls. Police officers may conduct arrests if a suspect may have engaged in a crime. They might have to give testimony in court regarding such arrests. Police officers are required to have a high school diploma and have graduated from a training academy. An associate's or bachelor's degree in criminal justice is preferred.

Emergency Management Director

Those working in 911 call centers have been exposed to a wide range of emergencies and offered a range of responses. With further education, this could translate to a career as an emergency management director. Emergency management directors are fluent in the best ways to address a wide range of emergencies that could occur in a community, and have developed plans to meet these types of emergencies. They have relationships with others in similar positions to coordinate resources should a disaster occur. Emergency management directors are knowledgeable about federal guidelines for funding for emergencies. To become an emergency management director, a candidate must have a bachelor's degree and experience in the emergency management field. Becoming a Certified Emergency Manager or possessing a similar certificate is typically preferred.

Air Traffic Controller

Emergency dispatchers must be comfortable with directing the movement of a range of emergency services. Those who enjoy this aspect of their position may consider becoming an air traffic controller. Air traffic controllers are the directors of air traffic at airports and are responsible for ensuring that airplanes and other vehicles maintain appropriate, safe distances between them. Air traffic controllers communicate with pilots and emergency personnel in emergency situations. To become an air traffic controller, a candidate must complete an associate's degree through an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program.

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