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How to Become a 911 Operator

Indrajit Deshmukh
911 operators are the first point of contact for victims. During an emergency, they act as a bridge between the victims, police, and fire departments. This write-up will shed some light on the ways in which one can make a career in this field.
You might have seen on many TV shows that a 911 operator plays a key role during an emergency. The operator is a conduit between the person seeking assistance and services like police, ambulance, and the fire department.
They play a crucial role of acquiring necessary information and then accurately relaying it to the concerned authorities.
911 is a common emergency number, which people can dial, if they are in need of emergency assistance. The number is a common emergency contact for police department, fire brigade, and ambulance services.
So the operator has to be good at assessing the caller's situation and then dispatching the necessary assistance. For example, if there is a call requesting a police backup and the person is hurt, the 911 operator needs to send over the police, as well as the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).


One of the first things that you are required to do is fill out an application and submit it along with your typed resume to the nearest emergency response office.
Also keep a lookout for civil services exams which are held once or twice in a year, if you are planning a career as a 911 operator. After applying, you will be given a self-assessment questionnaire, which you will be required to fill and provide accurate information.
Many areas will require the applicants to have at least a high school diploma or GED to qualify for the post.
Some of the other skills required for the job are good communication skills, as you will be expected to interact with callers and the emergency services, day in and day out. An applicant will also need to have good typing skills and will be administered a typing test before the final personal interview.
As the job requires the applicant to deal with people who are under stress, individuals who are calm and composed under stressful situations will be preferred for the job. A stress assessment test will also be given to the applicants to check their mental abilities.
People with multitasking skills will be given preference because one of the basic duties of an operator is to speak to the callers and type the information at the same time.
Thorough criminal background checks will be done to check for any criminal charges or illegal drug use charges. After clearing these preliminary tests and conditions, the applicant has to go through a personal interview conducted by a panel. In the interview the applicant's ability to deal with stress related to work will be checked.
After passing all these levels, the applicants who successfully clear will have to go through a paid 3-6 months training program to be certified as a 911 operator. The training program consists basics of emergency preparedness, handling calls, on-job training under experienced operators, and attending the dispatch academy.

Job Outlook and Salary

The job outlook for this profession is great. According to several agencies, career opportunities will be good because of the expected increased spending on emergency services. The aging population warrants increase in the requirements of qualified emergency operators for assistance.
With modern technology playing a major role in most industries, individuals with computer knowledge have good prospects in the emergency assistance services.
The salary range is between USD 29,000 to USD 59,000 with people having backgrounds in medical or law enforcement getting higher salaries. Metropolitan areas generally pay more than rural settings.
You need to enhance some of your secondary qualities like listening skills and empathy to become successful in this job profile. Work on your multitasking and intercultural communication skills. If possible, learn a secondary language like Spanish. It will look good on your resume.