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How do I Become a Police Dispatcher?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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To become a police dispatcher, a person should contact his or her local police or sheriff’s office to find out about openings as an operator or dispatcher. This will allow the applicant to learn of potential positions available as well as request the necessary papers and forms to begin the application process. While a college degree is not necessary to become a police dispatcher, a high school degree is almost always mandatory, and a having an associate’s degree in an area such as criminal law or police science would certainly be beneficial for an applicant. Actual skills and experience are usually more important for 911 dispatchers than any particular educational background.

Someone looking to become a police dispatcher should also consider parallel careers such as being a fire department or ambulance dispatcher. These other careers would give someone real-world experience quite similar to being a police dispatcher, and give him or her an edge against other applicants, which could be especially useful in areas with more competition for dispatcher jobs. Since some smaller areas may only need one or two dispatchers for police, this can also allow someone to begin working in a related field while he or she awaits an opening as a police dispatcher. Larger metropolitan areas will usually have more openings as more dispatchers are required to answer the greater number of incoming calls, and moving to such a place may be something anyone wanting to become a police dispatcher should consider.

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The application process to become a police dispatcher can be rather lengthy and any applicant looking into the field should consider that fact. While the specific process will vary with location, there is typically a long written application as well as psychiatric evaluation of any applicant. Background checks are typically mandatory as well, and anyone wanting to become a police dispatcher should consider what might be found in such a background check. Previous experience in a call center will also usually be a benefit for any applicant.

Police dispatching is a high-stress job that requires the ability to multitask and coordinate the needs of different people simultaneously. Being a 911 operator can also include some fairly brutal emotional moments as well. Anyone looking to become a police dispatcher should be sure that he or she can handle the reality of hearing people on the phone who may be panicking, injured, witnessing a crime, or the victims of violent crime. While this should not dissuade someone with the mental and emotional fortitude needed to perform such a job, the reality of the work should be recognized by any potential candidates.

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Drentel
Post 3

@Laotionne - You should be aware that while a person in a 911 dispatcher position will not face the same dangers as police officers and firefighters, the pressure and the stress can be just as intense and overwhelming. When someone calls a police dispatcher, the dispatcher plays a key role in making sure the caller gets the help he or she needs.

Also, you work long shifts and you handle a lot calls, some of them coming in a the same time, and you have to handle them quickly and precisely, or else you could be putting someone's life in greater danger. Many dispatchers burn out from the pressure after a few years.

Sporkasia
Post 2

One of my former coworkers at one of the newspaper companies I worked for became a police dispatcher. He fell into the job by accident. He was shuffling from job to job before he landed the job at the newspaper, and he was not happy there.

A friend told him about an opening for a dispatcher in his department. With the recommendation from his friend, the guy filled out an application and took the 911 dispatcher test.

He was notified in a few weeks that he had passed the test and all of his paperwork checked out. At this point he was offered a job and he accepted. He did not have any formal training or work experience that specifically prepared him for the position.

Laotionne
Post 1

I am fascinated by police work, and I believe police officers provide one of the most important services there is for the towns, cities and counties where they work.

In my fantasy world, I would love to be a police officer and help fight crime. In the real world, I would rather become a police dispatcher. This way I can help people and experience the exhilaration of police work without putting myself in more danger than I am prepared to handle.

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