How Do I Become a 911 Operator?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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If you would like to become a 911 operator, you should first obtain a high school diploma or equivalent. After that, you can study for an examination which will qualify you to do this type of work. You might also consider taking courses in law enforcement or emergency services at a local community college. Obtaining recommendations from two or three solid references is ideal, and if possible one of your references should already be working as a dispatcher.

The only education typically needed to become a 911 operator is a high school diploma. In addition, some knowledge of emergency services can be helpful in landing you a position. Consider enrolling at a local college and taking courses in basic first aid, medical terminology, and basic law enforcement procedures.

Many jurisdictions require 911 operators to pass a licensing examination. You may want to consider taking this test even if it is not required in your area. Passing this test can give you an advantage over other candidates who have not taken it.

You should work on improving your keyboarding skills. Many agencies test candidates before they are hired. Try to reach a speed of at least 60 words per minute with less than five errors in order to ensure you meet the qualifications for the job.


Applying at several different agencies will give you as many opportunities as possible to become a 911 operator. Networking with other professionals who are working in this capacity may also increase your chances of getting hired. These individuals can introduce you to the hiring managers and be able to give you a personal recommendation for the job.

During the interview, you should be prepared to talk to a panel of individuals. They may ask difficult questions and try to place you under a great deal of stress. This is a normal part of the process because the supervisors need to see how you will react when placed under pressure.

You should also be prepared to submit to a polygraph examination, drug screening, and criminal background check before being hired as an emergency services dispatch operator. This process can sometimes be lengthy, so you should ask about timeframes when you first meet with company representatives. Do not be afraid to follow up with a phone call if you have not heard from the manager in a reasonable amount of time. Doing so can make you stand out from other applicants and therefore help you become a 911 operator.


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