Public Safety Dispatcher: Job & Testing Resources
The profession of public safety dispatching is exciting, challenging and rewarding. However, it can also be frustrating, stressful and emotional. These seemingly contradictory facets of dispatching make it one of the toughest jobs to master. But for those who do, it's a particularly good way to earn a living and serve your community.
The requirements for public safety dispatching jobs vary greatly by agency and area of the country. But we have summarized the most common requirements in the following sections. We have also included several sample job descriptions, screening methods and applicant procedures from actual agencies to provide a more comprehensive view of today's public safety dispatcher.
Not all police, fire or EMS agencies employ civilian dispatchers. Many agencies still place sworn officers or deputies, firefighters or EMS personnel in the comm center. There is a growing trend towards civilianization, both in recognition of the increased professionalism that the job requires, and as a way of decreasing costs. However, at many agencies, the parent police or fire department continues to maintain their supervisory and management level personnel to administer the communications center.
As with any job, there are state and federal laws that govern the process. You should know what questions a potential employer can ask and those which are forbidden to ask. You should understand your rights at each step of the process and how you stand at each step.
The following resources are intended for those who are looking for a job, and for those recruiting and hiring dispatchers.
Current job listings submitted by agencies in all 50 states
How to prepare as an applicant for dispatcher
Material from the California standard POST agency on dispatcher standards and requirements
An explanation of the calltaking process for the position of dispatcher
Statistics and outlook from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics on dispatcher jobs
What's it like to the night shift?
Sample job descriptions to get the recruiting process started
Sample screening processes for the position of dispatcher
Sample qualifications for the position
Personal History Questionnaire for dispatcher position (pdf)
Profile Evaluations Inc., employee selection & consulting / CritiCall selection/testing software
Select Advantage, recruit assessments
U.S. Employment and Testing Administration - resources for employers and employees
2008 KPNW radio station recruiting interview with Eugene (Ore.) PD dispatcher Marie Denny (mp3)