Dispatcher Job Description

WHAT DO DISPATCHERS DO?

Calling all cars! Calling all cars! We have a career in progress! Dispatchers answer calls and communicate with mobile units to send the appropriate response. Dispatchers are used in the semi-truck shipping industry, taking orders for trucking companies and sending truckers to pick up and drop off materials. Dispatchers are also used in the emergency services field, dispatching police, fire and ambulances when someone dials 9-1-1 or non-emergency numbers.

Dispatchers are calm, clear and in control, especially in emergency situations. They know the appropriate responses, no matter the situation, whether it's how many trucks to send to pick up materials, or how many fire engines need to respond to a fire. They track and monitor situations by phone and radio, and respond to any situations reported by those in the field.

HOW MUCH DO DISPATCHERS MAKE?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), emergency service dispatchers made a median hourly income of $17.00 in 2010, or $35,370 annually. Non-emergency dispatchers made a median hourly wage of $16.92 or $35,200 annually in 2011, according to the BLS.

WHAT ARE THE EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS?

You need at least a high school diploma or GED to become a dispatcher, and much of your experience will be gained on the job. You might need to pass a written exam or a typing test before getting the job. For many jobs, especially emergency jobs, you will need to pass a drug test a background check and possibly hearing and vision tests. Certification may be required in some states.

Emergency dispatchers also might be required to take additional training every year, but this depends on which state you live in.

JOB SKILLS AND REQUIREMENTS

  • Communication Skills: You will be listening and speaking to people by radio and phone, often in some state of distress. Your ability to listen, speak plainly and communicate effectively will be necessary.
  • Ability to Multitask: Dispatchers often are moving a lot of people around at the same time, tracking their movements and keeping tabs on what they need.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: You will need to be able to prioritize the most important situations, and think quickly on your feet.

In addition, emergency dispatchers will need empathy and compassion, and the ability to keep calm in distressing situations.

CAREER PATHS FOR DISPATCHERS

Senior Dispatcher
Supervisor