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What it takes to be a 911 Dispatcher

Majors Overview November 13, 2012

In life-or-death situations or violent domestic dispute, you can immediately call 911 to receive assistance. In fiery conflagrations, heinous crimes, force majeure or any other emergency situation brought by either nature or man, you know that help is just a call away. During the critical time and accompanied adrenaline rush, it is difficult to focus on anything other than getting firemen, law enforcement officers, or paramedics on the location, but aside from these real-life lifesavers, there is a group of unsung heroes that we overlook most of the time – the 911 dispatchers.

When you are a 911 dispatcher, you are called upon to think clearly and remain calm amidst the nervousness and high pressure that characterize most 911 calls. The job demands  extreme control, concentration, and productivity among other competencies that can help you extract the most relevant information that is integral in the provision of the appropriate assistance. If you want to be one of these epitomes of grace, quick thinker, and work well under pressure, here are some of the qualifications you need to have to become a 911 dispatcher.

 Academic Qualifications

Due to the great pressure and stress involved in the day-to-day job of a 911 dispatcher, an applicant should have competencies, not only in the technical aspect, but in the emotional and psychological fronts. Although a degree is not an absolute qualification, an applicant with an associate or bachelor degree is preferred most of the time. To ensure you have a solid grasp of the situation, the dynamics involved, the skills required, and support needed; applicants with a degree in criminal justice, computer science, or communication are given priority in the selection process. Depending on the state you live in, certain certifications may be required.

Key Skills

Callers who find themselves in life-threatening situations are usually agitated, stressed out, confused and even inaudible at times. Their judgment may be clouded and their communication skills may be impaired. As a 911 dispatcher, it is your responsibility to interpret the word salad and shift through the information provided to obtain the relevant details that you’ll need in coordinating with the other departments and the actual responders to the scene. Some of the key skills required from an application for this position include excellent listening skills, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, and communication skills. You should have the experience to multi-task because you have to type quick notes, fiddle with the dispatch software, understand the issue, and set the gears moving to address the situation appropriately and adequately, all simultaneously. Most of all, you should sympathize with the callers who are caught in these emergency situations.

Miscellaneous requisites

Aside from the abundance of skills and qualifications cited above, an applicant should be a U.S. citizen with a spotless criminal record. You should pass the lie detector test, drug test, and certain physical examinations, especially focused on your vision and hearing.

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