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The Various Types of Dispatcher Jobs and How to Get Them
Dispatchers use the phone or other devices to dispatch the police, emergency personnel, or commercial vehicles like cargo trucks. There are many kinds of dispatchers, and those seeking these jobs can get training to increase the odds of employment.
There is no general requirement to get a college education for dispatchers. Although most dispatchers learn their tasks through on-the-job training, there are ways to get training that may improve the chances of getting hired.
Although no formal education is required, dispatchers tend to have certain personality traits that will be helpful for getting a job and performing dispatch duties in an effective manner. Dispatchers need to be able to enunciate well for good communication. They also need to have good hearing. Many dispatchers are responding to emergency calls, so dispatchers need to have composure in high-stress situations. Patience is also important, as some callers do not listen to instructions very well, especially in emergency situations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 180,000 dispatcher jobs in May of 2020 that were not police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers. They were earning a median salary of $34,560 at that time. Even dispatch jobs that are not for emergency dispatchers are somewhat in line with the population of the states where these jobs exist. Not surprisingly, then, the top three employment states for dispatchers are California, Texas, and New York.
The types of non-emergency dispatcher jobs include those in the freight trucking business, transportation companies, various companies that send out work crews, and businesses like tow truck companies that send out workers or vehicles to the community.
The police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers are typically hired by local police agencies as 911 operators. There were about 97,000 of these jobs in May of 2020. At about $35,000, they had a median salary slightly higher but virtually the same as their non-emergency dispatch counterparts. There are also some ambulatory health-care companies that hire their own dispatchers. Colleges and hospitals also hire a few thousand of these emergency dispatchers.
On the non-emergency dispatch side, freight trucking companies hire the most dispatchers. Taxi and limousine services are also major providers of dispatcher jobs, and local government departments hire some dispatchers. An example is the highway department. Building equipment contractors are the other major category of employer that hires for dispatch work. There are also some airline dispatchers that direct aircraft traffic on the ground.
Normally, you would just apply directly with the police agencies or other organizations to get dispatcher jobs. There are also some sites like Dispatcher Jobs that will list job openings when available (see link below). These are not exhaustive listings. You should contact as many places as possible and provide a resume to put on file.
There a few dispatcher training programs. You should first inquire with specific employers about job qualifications and see if you need training. In many cases, you will actually receive free training after getting a job. Airline dispatchers, though, often have specific training requirements. You would attend a dispatcher course and then seek employment with one of the airline companies. See the Institute of Flight Operations and Dispatch website for an example.
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Information on Non-Emergency Dispatcher Jobs and Salary
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Information on Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatch Jobs and Salary