Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, also called public safety telecommunicators, answer emergency and nonemergency calls.
Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers work in emergency communication centers called public safety answering points (PSAPs). Dispatchers must be available around the clock, so they often have to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Overtime and long shifts—sometimes 12 hours—are common. The pressure to respond quickly and calmly in alarming situations can be stressful.
How to Become a Police, Fire, or Ambulance Dispatcher
Most police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers have a high school diploma. Many states require dispatchers to become certified.
Employment of police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers is projected to decline 3 percent from 2014 to 2024. Consolidation of emergency communication centers, enabled by advances in technology, is expected to reduce the employment of dispatchers. Still, job prospects should be good because the stressful nature of the job results in many workers leaving this occupation.
Job Trends for Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
This occupation supported 98,500 jobs in 2012 and 102,000 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 3.6%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 7.8% in 2022 to 106,200 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 100,000, compared with an observed value of 102,000, 2.0% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to decrease by 3.0% in 2024 to 99,000 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 107,700 jobs for 2024, 8.8% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.