911 on DVD is here!
Getting hired as a public safety dispatcher does not occur in the blink of an eye. It takes time but it is a career well worth it. Some people have had to wait as little as three (3) months and others as long as eighteen (18) months to start. This is a good chance to really prepare yourself for this career. Here is a fair question to ask a potential employer: “Realistically, if I test well and pass your background check, how long is the pre-employment process? I’m just trying to gauge how long the process might be.”
First, know where to look for the jobs. Aside from the listings in our Job Announcements, there are positions that may be listed on various city, county, state and federal government web sites. We will attempt to have links to such jobs on the Jobs In 911 site. If you find a link that we don’t have, please e-mail us and we will link it in this web site.
Almost every public safety agency that is tax-payer driven has a dedicated dispatch center. Since we are based in California, we know for a fact, California has over 500 dispatch centers. Here are examples of place to look:
- Police Departments
- Sheriff Departments
- State/Highway Patrol
- College/University Police
- Fire Departments, including the Division of Forestry
- Airport police
- Ambulance companies
- National Park Services
- Military Police
- Department of Homeland Security (DSH)
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Another task you will be faced with is finding out where the dispatch center is located. Find the non-emergency phone number to your police or sheriff’s department. Call them during business hours (though centers are always open, staffing is sometimes better during the day shift or the management team is easier to find during business hours.) Ask to speak with the Communications Supervisor.
Though we focus on public safety agencies, there are also dispatchers within other businesses. Fortune 500 companies and high tech firms often have their own dispatch centers too. Almost anywhere that has a security guard has a dispatcher somewhere:
- Airline companies
- Auto clubs
- Tow truck companies
- Telematics companies (such as OnStar and ATX)
- Amusement Parks (such as Disney, Sea World, Boardwalk, etc.)
- Security companies
- Transport companies (such as private ambulances, trucks, railroad, etc.)
These jobs are sometimes very well paid and others are considered entry level and as such, don’t command a high pay rate.
One challenge is to see how the position is listed. The position might be listed as:
- Public Safety Dispatcher
- Police Dispatcher
- Fire Dispatcher
- Call Taker
- 9-1-1 Call taker
- 9-1-1 Dispatcher
- Telecommunicator or Emergency Telecommunicator
- Communications Dispatcher
- Communications Specialist
- OR as an acronym based names like PSDI (public safety dispatcher 1)
We should probably let you in on a secret. Communications Supervisors are just like dispatchers. Some are fantastic and some get overwhelmed at work and somehow get a little nasty when people call them. We strongly suggest that you have some well thought out questions (see below) before dialing.
I know that, personally, I have had people on the phone so busy tripping over their words that I almost rule them out before they even say their name. Sadly, we make snap judgments on applicants so sound professional and flexible when you call a Supervisor for employment information.