Summary Report for:
43-5031.00 - Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
Operate radio, telephone, or computer equipment at emergency response centers. Receive reports from the public of crimes, disturbances, fires, and medical or police emergencies. Relay information to law enforcement and emergency response personnel. May maintain contact with caller until responders arrive.
Sample of reported job titles: 911 Dispatcher, Communications Officer, Communications Operator, Communications Specialist, Communications Supervisor, Dispatcher, Emergency Communications Dispatcher, Police Dispatcher, Public Safety Dispatcher, Telecommunicator
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Question callers to determine their locations, and the nature of their problems to determine type of response needed.
- Receive incoming telephone or alarm system calls regarding emergency and non-emergency police and fire service, emergency ambulance service, information, and after-hours calls for departments within a city.
- Determine response requirements and relative priorities of situations, and dispatch units in accordance with established procedures.
- Record details of calls, dispatches, and messages.
- Enter, update, and retrieve information from teletype networks and computerized data systems regarding such things as wanted persons, stolen property, vehicle registration, and stolen vehicles.
- Maintain access to, and security of, highly sensitive materials.
- Relay information and messages to and from emergency sites, to law enforcement agencies, and to all other individuals or groups requiring notification.
- Scan status charts and computer screens, and contact emergency response field units to determine emergency units available for dispatch.
- Observe alarm registers and scan maps to determine whether a specific emergency is in the dispatch service area.
- Maintain files of information relating to emergency calls such as personnel rosters, and emergency call-out and pager files.
- Monitor various radio frequencies such as those used by public works departments, school security, and civil defense to keep apprised of developing situations.
- Learn material and pass required tests for certification.
- Read and effectively interpret small-scale maps and information from a computer screen to determine locations and provide directions.
- Answer routine inquiries, and refer calls not requiring dispatches to appropriate departments and agencies.
- Test and adjust communication and alarm systems, and report malfunctions to maintenance units.
- Provide emergency medical instructions to callers.
- Monitor alarm systems to detect emergencies such as fires and illegal entry into establishments.
- Operate and maintain mobile dispatch vehicles and equipment.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Automatic call distributor ACD — Automatic call distributing ACD consoles
- Conversation recording units — Digital recording equipment
- Desktop computers
- Intercom systems
- Mainframe computers
- Mainframe console or dumb terminals — Mainframe terminals
- Notebook computers — Mobile data computers
- Personal computers
- Premise branch exchange PBX systems — Switchboards
- Radio frequency scanners — Radio scanners
- Special purpose telephones — Multi-line telephone systems
- Telecommunication devices TDD or teletypewriters TTY for the physically challenged — Telecommunication devices TDD
- Teletype input devices — Teletype terminals
- Two way radios — Base station radios
Technology used in this occupation:
- Data base user interface and query software — 911 system information databases; Law enforcement information databases; National Crime Information Center NCIC database; National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System NLETS
- Helpdesk or call center software — Computer aided dispatch CAD software; Spillman Technologies Spillman Computer-Aided Dispatch CAD
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Word processing software — Corel WordPerfect software; Microsoft Word
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Clerical — Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
- Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Communications and Media — Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
- Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Geography — Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
- Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
- Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Detailed Work Activities
- Enter information into databases or software programs.
- Answer telephones to direct calls or provide information.
- Discuss goods or services information with customers or patrons.
- Operate communications equipment or systems.
- Coordinate operational activities.
- Maintain security.
- Maintain call records.
- Operate vehicles or material-moving equipment.
- Monitor equipment operation to ensure proper functioning.
- Search files, databases or reference materials to obtain needed information.
- Report maintenance or equipment problems to appropriate personnel.
- Confer with coworkers to coordinate work activities.
- Monitor alarm systems.
- Relay information between personnel.
- Refer customers to appropriate personnel.
- Maintain current knowledge related to work activities.
- Adjust office equipment to ensure proper operation.
- Telephone — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 94% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Deal With External Customers — 90% responded “Extremely important.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 89% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 94% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 90% responded “Every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 86% responded “Very important results.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 83% responded “Extremely important.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 78% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 84% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 76% responded “Extremely important.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 88% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 76% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Consequence of Error — 85% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 71% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 65% responded “Every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 45% responded “Extremely important.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 69% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 48% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 44% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 46% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 65% responded “40 hours.”
- Time Pressure — 61% responded “Every day.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 48% responded “Every day.”
- Letters and Memos — 34% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Physical Proximity — 40% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 44% responded “Every day.”
- Electronic Mail — 47% responded “Every day.”
- Deal With Physically Aggressive People — 30% responded “Every day.”
|Title||Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed|
|Education||These occupations usually require a high school diploma.|
|Related Experience||Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include sheet metal workers, forest fire fighters, customer service representatives, physical therapist aides, salespersons (retail), and tellers.|
|SVP Range||(4.0 to < 6.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|76||High school diploma or equivalent|
|12||Some college, no degree|
Interest code: CRE
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2014)||$17.99 hourly, $37,410 annual|
|Employment (2014)||102,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Decline (-2% or lower)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||25,500|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.