Emergency Services Dispatchers


Employment Prospects


Approximately 98,300 emergency services dispatchers are employed in the United States, with about 80 percent working for local government agencies (law enforcement agencies and fire departments), 6 percent working for state agencies, and 14 percent working for other types of employers (including hospitals and private companies that provide emergency services staffing to 911 centers).

Starting Out

Many aspiring dispatchers learn about job openings by visiting the employment sections of fire department, police department, and 911 center Web sites. College students can access job-search resources—and receive help with their resumes and interviewing skills—through their school’s career services office. Job listings are also available at the Web sites of professional associations such as the APCO International.

Advancement Prospects

Experienced dispatchers can advance to become senior dispatchers or supervisors. Others advance to manage the entire emergency communications center, establishing policy and developing training programs. With additional education and certifications, dispatchers can become emergency medical technicians, who respond to emergency calls, and emergency services directors, who work for government agencies to prepare and implement plans to respond to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other emergencies.  

Tips for Entry

Attend the APCO International Annual Conference & Expo (https://www.apcointl.org/events) and NENA Annual Conference & Expo (https://www.nena.org/page/conferences2017) to network and participate in continuing education classes and workshops. 

Visit the following Web sites for job listings:

  • http://apcointl-jobs.careerwebsite.com
  • http://jobs.nena.org
  • https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/emergency-dispatcher-jobs

A strong background in communications and computer science is helpful in this field; take classes in these areas. Additionally, learning a foreign language, especially Spanish, may give you an advantage over other job applicants.