Dispatch Officer Job Description
Dispatch officers are responsible for bringing necessary assistance or materials to people in need. Sometimes they help transport passengers to their destinations.They are strong communicators who perform well under pressure and are naturals at multitasking. They work in many different fields, including healthcare, law enforcement, emergency response, utilities,and aviation.Since emergencies can happen at any time, evening, holiday, and weekend shifts may be required.
Dispatch Officer Duties and Responsibilities
A dispatch officer’s responsibilities will vary depending on what field they work in, but here are a few core duties based on analysis across industries:
Operate Phone Lines
Dispatch officers are an important link between people in need and their help, whether that means medical workers and patients, police officers and the public, or materials and their destination. To perform their intermediary role effectively, dispatch officers use precise telephone communication skills, often asking a series of detailed questions, especially when dealing with medical emergencies.
Communication with and coordination of support services is another important responsibility. Dispatch officers send crews out to do their job, providing them with locations and relevant details.
When dispatch officers send out people or materials, they also need a method of transportation. In a hospital, it might be an ambulance. In a police station, it may be police cars. Whichever kind of dispatch tasks are performed, arrangement of transportation is key.
Create and Maintain Records
Dispatch officers are responsible for writing up reports and inputting important information into the computer system after an emergency incident, when logging materials transported, and in other contexts.
Read Incoming Messages
Dispatch officers must read incoming messages on the computer-aided dispatch system. Sometimes these messages will appear on multiple screens.
Dispatch Officer Skills and Qualifications
Dispatch officers have strong communication skills. They are adept at customer service and multitasking. Education requirements vary by state, but a high school diploma or equivalent is generally needed. Employers prefer candidates with the following abilities:
- Computer competency – dispatch officers write reports and perform data entry. They must be proficient in basic computer programs, such as Excel and Word, and possess the hand dexterity to type up data
- Dispatch systems knowledge – to send out a crew, dispatch officers must have working knowledge of or the ability to learn dispatch system technology
- Multitasking – since they sometimes receive calls, record information, and perform other duties simultaneously, dispatch officers need to multitask effectively
- Customer service – a key task of the dispatch officer is to respond to client and worker questions and concerns. They must resolve problems and communicate in a friendly and efficient manner
- Adaptability – dispatch officers work in fast-paced environments where they must react and learn quickly
Tools of the Trade
Dispatch officers often use the following tools:
- Multifrequency radio equipment
- Computer terminal and associated data recording equipment
- Computer-aided dispatch software
Dispatch Officer Education and Training
The minimum requirement to become a dispatch officer is a high school diploma or equivalent. Dispatch officers may be required to have at least one year of experience in either customer service or their specific industry, such as police enforcement or emergency services. In some cases, an associate’s degree is needed. Some employers require completion of a telecommunication course or specific certification for the job. On-the-job training is often provided.
Dispatch Officer Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), police, fire, and ambulance dispatch officers earn a median annual wage of about $39,000. Among these workers, the lowest 10 percent earn less than $25,000, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $62,000.People with higher salaries usually work in state government positions. Industry employment for dispatch officers in these fields is expected to grow 8 percent through 2026.
Dispatch officers in more specialized fields like utilities may earn a higher salary. For example, the BLS reports power plant dispatch officers have median annual earnings of $80,000. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $49,000, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $108,000.However, employment in this specific field is expected to decline by about 1 percent.
Does a career as a dispatch officer sound intriguing? Here are some great resources to start your journey:
Public Safety Dispatcher/911 Operator Exam – this educational manual is a great place to jumpstart your career. It gives you comprehensive information about different work options for public safety dispatchers as well as professional tips for passing each section of the public safety dispatcher/911 operator exam
“National Dispatch Standard Operating Guide for Contracted Resources” – check out this government resource for dispatch officers who work with materials and transportation, especially in wildlife and forest areas
Truck Dispatch Manual 2018 – author J.W. Lessing details how to best perform truck dispatch practices and increase profitability
Dispatcher Stress: 50 Lessons on Beating the Burnout – long shifts and irregular hours can cause burnout, but by reading up on the tips in this book, you can learn how to avoid stress before even starting a dispatch officer career
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