The job of a 911 operator, also called emergency service dispatcher, is a highly stressful one. If you want to become a 911 operator, remember that every minute of your job will be dedicated to solving and responding to people’s emergencies. Although you don’t see the exact scene, the voice of the caller and the background noise can already ignite the adrenaline rush. It is true that the job is taxing, but the fact that you are part of saving lives is already rewarding. If this is indeed the career you want to pursue, here are the things you should do.
- Complete the academic and professional requirements. The minimum educational requirement for 911 operators is a high school diploma. But those who have an undergraduate degree in law enforcement and similar degree programs are said to be more employable. The educational requirements usually vary from state to state and from agencies to agencies, so find out what the current requirements are in your locality. A previous job that is somewhat related to emergency service dispatching can also increase your chances of getting hired. For example, if your previous job involves map reading, as in the case of pizza delivery, you earn additional points.
- Improve your typing speed. A typing speed of a minimum of 35 words per minute is usually required of a potential 911 operator. So it is wise to increase your speed by enrolling in a training program or by using typing speed computer software. By the end of your training, you must be able to accurately type more than 35 words to make you more attractive to employers. You must also learn to type words while conversing, as your typical day at work involves taking calls while encoding information into the computer.
- Train yourself to communicate under intense pressure. What’s unique about the job is that you talk to people facing serious emergencies. And because they are distressed and in panic, it so easy to feel panicked, too. But that doesn’t help. If you yourself are in panic, you might not come up with an appropriate resolution and might delay the dispatching of a rescue team. So whatever situation your caller is in, try to relax him and yourself and talk to him in a calm and effective manner. You must be able to think fast, totally abandoning whatever sense of fright you are feeling during the phone conversation.
- Pass the application. If you think you are indeed fit to become a 911 operator, send a resume to the local enforcement agency. They will call you in for an initial examination if they see you qualified for the job. The exam usually involves typing and multi-tasking. Then, you will have to undergo an interview, a background check, and a psychological exam. If you successfully completed the application process, you will be hired by the law enforcement agency.
Your employer will put you under training as soon as you are hired. This will introduce you further to the job demands and work environment. After your training, you are expected to be completely equipped for the job.