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911 Dispatcher Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a 911 Dispatcher Do?

911 dispatchers receive emergency and non-emergency calls, advise callers and dispatch emergency units to specific locations as necessary. A 911 dispatcher is responsible for being familiar with police codes, efficiently operating a police radio dispatch system, and remaining calm during stressful situations. Working at an operations call center, they will spend most of their time sitting at a computer or radio dispatch unit.

A successful 911 dispatcher will listen and communicate effectively as they receive and respond to a wide variety of calls. 911 dispatchers interpret, analyze, and anticipate each caller’s situation to resolve their problems, provide information, and efficiently dispatch emergency services. Dispatchers must be comfortable handling stressful, intense situations since many callers are experiencing a delicate emotional state at the time of their call.

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National Average Salary

911 Dispatcher salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a 911 Dispatcher is:


911 Dispatcher Job Descriptions

It’s important to include the right content in your job description when hiring a 911 dispatcher. The following examples can serve as templates for attracting the best available talent for your team.

Example 1

Feel a sense of pride and fulfillment every day! Are you seeking a challenging, yet rewarding and gratifying career that’s more than just a job? The County of XYZ invites you to begin a career in which your commitment and outstanding contributions will add significant value to public safety every day.

The County of XYZ Public Safety Dispatch is immediately looking to fill several 911 Dispatcher positions.

Rarely will you ever get a chance to meet the hundreds of people who call for help, yet they’ll depend on your voice, your directions, and your knowledge to get through an emergency. No day is ever routine – one call may be a minor traffic accident, while the next is a frantic voice screaming for help. Both will depend on your calm, firm voice and direction until help arrives. Using state-of-the-art equipment and training, you’ll provide the excellent service and security people have come to expect from XYZ County Public Safety Communications.

911 Dispatchers perform more routine duties of radio dispatch for law enforcement, fire and ambulance services. In addition, incumbents are expected to learn the more difficult or responsible duties typically assigned to the position in the next higher class of 911 Dispatcher II. 911 Dispatcher I candidates will demonstrate the proven ability to work in a fast-paced environment while performing multiple crucial tasks simultaneously.

What do I need to have to submit an application?

Successful Dispatchers shall demonstrate excellent verbal, reasoning, memory, and perceptual abilities. As such, at a minimum, Dispatchers require completion of the POST Entry-Level Dispatcher Selection Test Battery (POST Dispatcher Test) with a minimum T-score of 52 within one year of date of application. All applicants are responsible for obtaining and submitting their own test scores at the time of application.

NOTE: The Dispatch Academy certification does NOT satisfy the testing requirement.

Employees in this classification are trained in, and perform the following:

  • Receive business or emergency calls for law enforcement, fire, medical and other public service agencies.
  • Screen information to determine nature of call, performs call classification, determines priority, jurisdiction and documents activity.
  • Screen and prioritize telephone workload.
  • Cognizant of workloads and specific systems status.
  • Provide support and assistance in a team concept during day-to-day operations, critical or large scale incidents.
  • Assist in the coordination of mutual aid incidents.
  • Develop and foster a positive working rapport with direct and in-direct customers, the public and co-workers.
  • Testify in court regarding legal proceeding related to dispatch call(s) received.
  • Prepare and submit various reports such as incident reports.
  • Develop and maintain working knowledge of highways, streets, buildings and major points of interest in the County and adjacent areas.
  • Remain current on procedures for manual dispatch operations and communications Center evacuation.
  • Provide off hours services as required.
  • Perform related duties as assigned.

Knowledge of:

  • English language, spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • Customer service and interpersonal communications principles.
  • Computer operation and use in office and Communications Center environments.
  • Basic principles in communicating by means of face-to-face contact, telephone and/or data terminals.
  • Various resources within the County in order to provide referrals to the public and public safety agencies.

Skill/ability to:

  • Speak, read and write English clearly.
  • Communicate clearly and concisely, in English, both orally and in writing.
  • Comprehend, interpret, relay and document information via telephone, computer software/ data terminals or other related technology.
  • Screen and interpret general data and filter relevant information.
  • Learn and operate Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Systems and other related technology.
  • Read and interpret various mapping devices and relaying pertinent information.
  • Work under pressure, exercising good judgment and common sense while making sound decisions in emergency situations.
  • Perform multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Listen, understand and relay of information via telephone and in person.
  • Remain calm and controlled under stressful periods while projecting a professional demeanor.
  • Establish and maintain positive and courteous working relationships with customers, the community and co-workers.
  • Work with the Communications Center team while maintaining assigned job responsibilities and duties.
  • Anticipate and adapt to fluctuating workloads in the Communications Center.
  • Communicate and receive constructive feedback and opinions to affect change.
  • Access and refer to information using available resources.
  • Read, interpret, understand and follow written and oral instructions and/or information.
  • Remain seated for long periods of time.
  • Read and interpret text/data on electronic screen or computer printouts and variety of maps.
  • Hear in a noisy environment while communicating via telephone or face to face.

Other requirements of the position:

  • Successfully complete a pre-employment medical examination and be subject to polygraph testing.
  • Follow strict drug use standards and guidelines.
  • Possess good moral character and psychological suitability as determined by a thorough background investigation, including fingerprinting and psychological evaluation.
  • Be willing to work day, swing, graveyard, rotating, holiday, and weekend shifts.
  • Be willing to work 12 to 16 hours per day.
  • Be willing to accept overtime assignments, including last minute spontaneous mandatory assignments.

Example 2

Job summary

Dispatchers receive critical medical transportation requests and relay that information to the medical crew serving the region. The candidates for this position must be able to work under pressure and remain calm. A higher than average attention to detail is required and the individual must be able to maintain sharp focus on all aircraft while in flight. Our Dispatchers are responsible for demonstrating competencies in operating all radios, information systems, and any related equipment associated with the Air Medical Communications Center.


  • NAACS, IAMTCS Certification or industry accepted equivalent
  • Emergency Medical Dispatch certification
  • EMT-B, or Paramedic certification
  • Proficient in any industry accepted dispatch software.
  • Strong customer service skills with a high level of professionalism


  • Minimum 2 years’ experience in an EMS/911/Aviation dispatching work environment or two years of work experience as an EMT or Paramedic in a 911 or hospital environment or minimum 2 years customer service experience or dispatching in a non-911 environment with at least 1 year experience in healthcare, EMS, or public safety.
  • Ability to remain calm during highly stressful situations
  • Ability to adapt and respond appropriately to evolving work demands


  • Detail oriented
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Ability to function in a fast paced, at times high stress, work environment
  • Ability to have situational awareness with numerous units and situations
  • Computer literate

Working conditions

  • Must be able to perform job duties in a fast paced environment
  • Frequently required to sit for long periods of time
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and ability to adjust focus.
  • Hearing: Perceiving the nature sounds at normal speaking levels with or without correction, and having the ability to receive detailed information through oral communication, and making fine discriminations in sound.
  • Reaching: Extending hand(s) and arm(s) in any direction.
  • Talking: Expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word; those activities where detailed or important spoken instructions must be conveyed to other workers accurately, loudly, or quickly.
  • Fingering: Picking, pinching, typing or otherwise working, primarily with fingers rather than whole hand.

Mental requirements

  • Attention divided between issues requiring multi-tasking
  • Able to supervise, train and lead other employees
  • Deal with emergency and time sensitive situation on an ongoing basis
  • Able to perform under circumstances of emotional stress
  • Ability to make quick and accurate critical decisions
  • Copying: transcribing, entering, or posting data.
  • Comparing: judging the readily observable functional, structural, or compositional characteristics of Compiling: gathering, collating, or classifying information about data, people, or things. Reporting and/or carrying out a prescribed action in relation to the evaluation is frequently involved.
  • Analyzing: examining and evaluating data. Presenting alternative actions in relation to the evaluation is frequently involved.
  • Coordinating: determining time, place, and sequence of operations or action to be taken on the basis of analysis of data. May include prioritizing multiple responsibilities and/or accomplishing them simultaneously.

Example 3

We’re hiring Dispatchers that will respond to emergency and non-emergency calls for ambulance and transportation services. This person assigns and routes transportation requests and can provide clear communication in all situations to ensure quality support and care to our customers.


  • Understands and adequately implements the concepts of Emergency Medical Dispatch as published in Principles of Emergency Medical Dispatch (and as customized by AMR) as a minimum standard of care.
  • Allocates EMS resources properly as the need arises by application of appropriate decision-making rules and approved protocols.
  • Responsible and accountable for completeness and accuracy of paperwork related to their position prior to completion of shift.
  • Responsible for accurate and complete data entry for the shift. This will also include State Run Report data entry as assigned.
  • Responsible for generating applicable reports and checking for accuracy.
  • Assists in locating scene of incidents and selecting the safest, fastest route to such scene using all available locator aids.
  • Relays instructions from supervisors, messages and emergency information.
  • Maintains a current working knowledge of all company policies, procedures, rules, regulations, and memorandums.
  • Follows established parameters/formats in receiving requests for service.
  • Responsible for knowledge and use of equipment, including but not limited to the computer, printers, 911 equipment, recording devices, telephones, and other equipment as assigned by superiors.

Minimum required qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Must have minimal medical training or telecommunications experience or at least one year’s experience as an EMS or public safety dispatcher.
  • Skilled in reading and writing English.
  • Ability to communicate clearly on the radio and telephone.
  • Ability to record, transmit, and report information accurately.
  • Ability to efficiently utilize all equipment assigned to him or her.
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Possess good typing skills with speed and accuracy necessary to efficiently process emergency and nonemergency calls.

Sample Interview Questions

  • How well do you work under pressure?
  • Describe a time you’ve been under pressure at work, and how you dealt with it.
  • Describe your professional experience with emergency situations.
  • Give an example of when you’ve had to multitask at work.
  • How would you help a caller who was panicking?
  • Why do you want to be a 911 dispatcher?
  • You receive a call, but the person on the other line doesn’t respond. What do you do?
  • How do you prioritize calls for emergency dispatch?
  • How would you coach someone through a stressful situation over the phone?
  • What type of training and experience do you have taking calls?
  • What skills make a good dispatcher?
  • Why would you be a good 911 dispatcher?

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