According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the minimum educational requirement for a police dispatcher is a high school diploma, but there are certificate and associate's degree programs that can help prepare students for state licensure.
Schools with Police Dispatcher Programs
Here are some schools that offer relevant educational opportunities for future police dispatchers:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Programs offered||Tuition (2015-2016)*|
|Oakland Community College||Bloomfield Hills, MI||2-year, Public||911 Dispatch Certification||$2,745 (in-district), $5,235 (in-state)|
|Arapahoe Community College||Littleton, CO||2-year, Public||911 Dispatch Certification||$3,334 (in-state)|
|Salt Lake Community College||Salt Lake City, UT||2-year, Public||AAS Homeland Security Emergency Management, AS & AAS Criminal Justice||$3,569 (in-state)|
|Portland Community College||Portland, OR||2-year, Public||Emergency Telecommunicator/911 Dispatcher Certificate||$3,766 (in-state)|
|Mesa Community College||Mesa, AZ||2-year, Public||AAS Administration of Justice Studies||$2,046 (in-state)|
|Eastern Florida State College||Cocoa, FL||4-year, Public||911 Dispatch Certification||$2,496 (in-state)|
|South Texas College||McAllen, TX||2-year, Public||AAS Law Enforcement||$3,486 (in-district), $3,770 (in-state)|
|Central Piedmont Community College||Charlotte, NC||2-year, Public||AAS Criminal Justice Technology||$2,664 (in-state)|
|Glendale Community College||Glendale, AZ||2-year, Public||Law Enforcement Certificate||$2,046 (in-state)|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
The following are important considerations for aspiring police dispatchers who are considering different educational options :
- It is important for students to consider their long-term career goals; while a certificate program may be sufficient for students who just want to become dispatchers, while associate's degree programs may provide additional training for more advanced jobs in the future.
- Students may want to find out if the school offers internships or real-world training opportunities, and whether the amount of hands-on training time fulfills the prerequisites for state certification.
- Students can get an idea of a program's quality by considering the instructors, who are often listed on a prospective school's website. Local law enforcement professionals and community leaders dealing with criminology are involved in day-to-day work in public service, and many also teach police dispatcher or public safety courses.
- When looking at different associate-level options, students may want to find a program that allows them to major in a specific topic of interest, such as homeland security or criminal justice.
Undergraduate certificate programs can provide focused training for dispatcher certification. In addition to theoretical courses in relevant topics like policing systems and stress management, students get hands-on training with dispatch technology. Some schools offer these programs in part-time or online formats in order to accommodate the needs of working professionals. Depending on the schedule, these programs can take one to six months to complete.
Associate's Degree Programs
There are no associate's degree programs designed specifically for police dispatchers, but many two-year schools provide programs that include relevant courses. For instance, students may earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in law enforcement, criminal justice, homeland security or emergency management. In addition to public safety-related classes, students also fulfill general education requirements, which may be helpful if they plan to pursue higher level careers or a bachelor's degree in the future.
Training programs that can help prepare aspiring police dispatchers are available at the undergraduate certificate and associate's degree levels. They are most commonly available at community colleges and technical schools.