Police Officer Preparation & Law Enforcement Resource - Archive
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Hello all. I'm new to the board. I happened upon this site while looking for info on becoming a dispatcher. I currently work for a large company in a warehouse. The only things that are good about the job is the job security, pay is pretty good, and I work weekends so my wife and I don't have to have daycare for our 6 month old daughter (first child :D ). I want to go back to school and get some type of degree, I'm just not sure in what field. My main question is what classes should I take and/or area to major in that would be beneficial to getting into dispatching. Also I'm a volunteer firefighter/EMT with a local fire department, so I'm used to talking on the radio and have been in lots of high stress situations. I may look into getting a part time job with the local county sheriff's dispatch office, but that may be a while. Thanks for any advice. I really like the site.
04-27-07, 04:18 PM
I currently work for a large company in a warehouse. The only things that are good about the job is the job security, pay is pretty good, and I work weekends so my wife and I don't have to have daycare for our 6 month old daughter (first child :D ).
I can't speak for all dispatchers, but in my area the disatchers are topping out at $10.00 an hour, and job security is not a word we use frequently.
I want to go back to school and get some type of degree, I'm just not sure in what field. My main question is what classes should I take and/or area to major in that would be beneficial to getting into dispatching.
What area are you in? In some states dispatchers need to go through an academy of sorts. Typing classes to get your speed up would help. Depending on where you get hired, office skills would help there is a lot of filing and record keeping done by dispatch.
Also I'm a volunteer firefighter/EMT with a local fire department, so I'm used to talking on the radio and have been in lots of high stress situations.
I was a volunteer FF/EMT and that has helped me a lot in knowing what to ask callers and what the field units want to hear. The fire depts. we dispatch for like it when Iím on shift because they know they are getting good information.
I may look into getting a part time job with the local county sheriff's dispatch office, but that may be a while. Thanks for any advice. I really like the site.
Good luck and I hope this helps you out.
Where I live dispatchers start at 17 an hour. I think there is always job security as a dispatcher if you can handle it. We are always understaffed because it is hard to find people who can take the stress, the shift work etc.
As far as training goes just make sure that you can type, learn your 10 codes and be computer literate. I also went on ride alongs before I ever applied. It helps to know what you're getting yourself into and to see what happens on the other side of the radio.
Your medical knowledge will also be a plus. Good Luck!
04-27-07, 11:00 PM
Wife is a dispatch supervisor with only a high school degree. Making 34K a year.........not great money but the benefits are very good. Nationwide shortage for dispatchers in most urban areas..........good luck with it.
04-28-07, 12:04 AM
Everyone's given very good advice. Here's my couple of cents. If you want to make a career out of emergency communications (and it is possible), it may be worth considering some sort of management, administration, or emergency management degree. Different agencies have different requirements and emphasis.
Of course, a lot if it depends on whether you want to stay behind the radio, be a shift supervisor, or a center/agency supervisor. If you want to stay behind the radio for your entire career, and you can get hired with just a high school diploma (and in many places you can), then a degree may not be necessary. If you want to progress up the food chain, then a degree may be beneficial, or even required, depending on how far up you go.
Let me just skim through a few director/chief positions... Okay. Here's one that requires:
Bachelor's Degree in business management, law enforcement, fire science, public administration, computer science, industrial engineering, or related field AND Ten (10) years of progressively responsible experience in 9-1-1 public safety communications, dispatch, radio communications, with at least Five (5) years managerial and supervisory experience in a combined police fire and EMS, 9-1-1 communications center. Applicants also must have experience in progressive methods for planning, budgeting, administration, management of an emergency communications organization and its personnel, and have computer expertise with an emphasis in Word, Excel, Outlook, Visio, and Microsoft Project. Demonstrated abilities to handle large numbers of staff, to work with internal and external customers, and to manage contracts and negotiate costs also are required. An equivalent combination of education and experience may be substituted.
Here's another one requiring:
Possession of a Bachelorís degree and five years of professional work experience that includes emergency or public safety communications for law enforcement, fire and EMS agencies, emergency management, emergency response management, or a closely related field; or an equivalent combination of training and experience. At least three years of the required experience must have been in a managerial capacity.
A Bachelors Degree in communications, public administration, or related field is required. A minimum of five years experience in telecommunications, emergency dispatch, police and or fire administration is desirable.
These were all top-level positions that pay between $60K-$75K per year. Of course, these positions aren't as common as rank-and-file dispatcher positions, they open up less frequently, and if you want to move up to a chief/director position, relocation is almost certainly guaranteed.
But like I said, it all depends on what you want to do. My purpose here was just to give you some examples from recently posted "top of the food chain" positions. A little bit of perspective, that's all. Good luck! :D
04-28-07, 09:57 AM
The pay completely depends on where you are going to work and the cost of living in that area. You can make $10 per hour or $27 per hour as a front line Telecommunicator.
I normally tell people if they are going to get into dispatching, don't "prepare" in the traditional sense. Just start applying. The agency that hires you will pay for and provide all the training you will need. If your interested in going to school, check to see what kind of tuition reimbursement the agency offers and let them pay for that as well.
Thanks for the info. I'm in east central Kansas. The area that I'm looking at is one of the neighboring counties with several large cities that are growing like crazy. Cost of living is high, but there are no residency requirements so we could stay where we are. At my current job I make a little over $18 an hour, but I've been there for seven years, so I'm pretty much topped out (with the exception of annual warehouse raises). A few of the departments were hiring here a while back and they start out right around what I make now, or more DOQ. I was thinking of going for something like a communications or business degree. I'll probably take some computer classes at one of the local community colleges just to get started. Thanks again for the help.
Something else I thought of. A lot of the job ads that I've found say the job requires shift work, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. What exactly are they talking about when they say shift work? Sorry if that sounds like a dumb question. :o
05-03-07, 06:17 PM
Emergency services, including communications, are a 24/7/365 operation. Different agencies run different shifts. Regardless of how they break down the shifts (and there are many ways), there needs to be constant coverage.
You may be assigned to rotating or permanant shifts, reporting to work at various times to ensure that coverage. For example, we worked permanent shifts, either 7AM-3PM, 3PM-11PM, or 11PM-7AM. Our days off rotated every month. If we were scheduled to work on a holiday when regular government was closed, we still reported to work. That means, yes, you may be working Thanksgiving, Christmas, Independence Day, etc.
So basically, Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM probably ain't gonna happen. :D This can be problematic if you're trying to go to school, and your days off switch, or you switch from daywork to mids. It can also raise childcare issues, etc. You may be able to request a certain shift once you get seniority, but don't expect to be assigned to your preferred shift right out of the gate. You also face the possibility of being reassigned to a different shift if staffing needs dictate it.
I just wasn't sure if shifts were worked 8 hours, 12 hours, etc. Working holidays and weekends will be no problem in the future, which is why I'm looking at doing this a few years down the road. That's why I'm staying where I'm at right now, since we only have to get someone to watch our daughter one day a week (which my mother-in-law does). When she's a few years old it won't be that big of a deal. Thanks for the info.
05-03-07, 08:42 PM
I just wasn't sure if shifts were worked 8 hours, 12 hours, etc.
Yep. That'll vary from agency to agency. I've seen five 8-hour days, four 10-hour days, three 12's, four 12's, 2-2-4 (two 12-hour days, two 12-hour nights, four off), etc.
Sometimes there are some really convoluted schemes involving OT, comp time, etc. It's enough to make your brain bleed. :D
05-04-07, 12:23 AM
There are plenty of agencies with good pay and good benefits.
Where you really win in any public-safety career is in the long-term and the back-end.
There are Dispatchers where I work with 25ish years on the job and they are pulling in $70,000 a year.
CMPD hires at $14ish an hour
West Palm Beach hires at $17 an hour
San Francisco hires at something like $25 an hour.
Mostly you have to go to larger agencies to have anywhere to move within the ranks and to get decent pay.