Public Safety Telecommunicators
Operate telephone, radio, or other communication systems to receive and communicate requests for emergency assistance at 9-1-1 public safety answering points and emergency operations centers. Take information from the public and other sources regarding crimes, threats, disturbances, acts of terrorism, fires, medical emergencies, and other public safety matters. May coordinate and provide information to law enforcement and emergency response personnel. May access sensitive databases and other information sources as needed. May provide additional instructions to callers based on knowledge of and certification in law enforcement, fire, or emergency medical procedures.
Sample of reported job titles: 911 Dispatcher, Communications Officer, Communications Operator, Communications Specialist, Dispatcher, Emergency Communications Operator (ECO), Police Dispatcher, Public Safety Dispatcher, Telecommunicator
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Question callers to determine their locations and the nature of their problems to determine type of response needed.
- Determine response requirements and relative priorities of situations, and dispatch units in accordance with established procedures.
- Record details of calls, dispatches, and messages.
- Scan status charts and computer screens, and contact emergency response field units to determine emergency units available for dispatch.
- Receive incoming telephone or alarm system calls regarding emergency and non-emergency police and fire service, emergency ambulance service, information, and after-hours calls for departments within a city.
- Enter, update, and retrieve information from teletype networks and computerized data systems regarding such things as wanted persons, stolen property, vehicle registration, and stolen vehicles.
- Relay information and messages to and from emergency sites, to law enforcement agencies, and to all other individuals or groups requiring notification.
- Observe alarm registers and scan maps to determine whether a specific emergency is in the dispatch service area.
- Maintain access to, and security of, highly sensitive materials.
- Monitor various radio frequencies, such as those used by public works departments, school security, and civil defense, to stay apprised of developing situations.
- Read and effectively interpret small-scale maps and information from a computer screen to determine locations and provide directions.
- Maintain files of information relating to emergency calls, such as personnel rosters and emergency call-out and pager files.
- Learn material and pass required tests for certification.
- Answer routine inquiries, and refer calls not requiring dispatches to appropriate departments and agencies.
- Provide emergency medical instructions to callers.
- Operate and maintain mobile dispatch vehicles and equipment.
- Monitor alarm systems to detect emergencies, such as fires and illegal entry into establishments.
- Test and adjust communication and alarm systems, and report malfunctions to maintenance units.
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- Data base user interface and query software — 911 system information databases; Law enforcement information databases; National Crime Information Center NCIC database; National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System NLETS
- Helpdesk or call center software — Computer aided dispatch software; Spillman Technologies Spillman Computer-Aided Dispatch
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Mobile messaging service software — Intrado SchoolMessenger
- Office suite software — Corel WordPerfect Office Suite; Microsoft Office
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
- Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Geography — Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
- Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Communications and Media — Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
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- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
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- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
- Memorization — The ability to remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
- Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
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- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Coordinate operational activities.
- Discuss goods or services information with customers or patrons.
- Maintain call records.
- Provide basic health care services.
- Answer telephones to direct calls or provide information.
- Operate communications equipment or systems.
- Confer with coworkers to coordinate work activities.
- Enter information into databases or software programs.
- Relay information between personnel.
- Search files, databases or reference materials to obtain needed information.
- Monitor alarm systems.
- Maintain security.
- Interpret blueprints, specifications, or diagrams to inform installation, development or operation activities.
- Operate vehicles or material-moving equipment.
- Maintain current knowledge related to work activities.
- Refer customers to appropriate personnel.
- Adjust office equipment to ensure proper operation.
- Monitor equipment operation to ensure proper functioning.
- Report maintenance or equipment problems to appropriate personnel.
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- Telephone — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 95% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Deal With External Customers — 91% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 89% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 89% responded “Extremely important.”
- Electronic Mail — 81% responded “Every day.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 70% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 67% responded “Extremely important.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 89% responded “Every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 78% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 68% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 77% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 73% responded “Every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 64% responded “Very important results.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 61% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 54% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 44% responded “Extremely important.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 37% responded “Some freedom.”
- Letters and Memos — 35% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 43% responded “Some freedom.”
- Consequence of Error — 48% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Physical Proximity — 49% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
- Time Pressure — 32% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 27% responded “Limited responsibility.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 34% responded “Every day.”
- Deal With Physically Aggressive People — 30% responded “Never.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 78% responded “40 hours.”
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|Title||Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed|
|Education||These occupations usually require a high school diploma.|
|Related Experience||Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, counter and rental clerks, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, and tellers.|
|SVP Range||(4.0 to < 6.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|75||High school diploma or equivalent
|9||Some college, no degree|
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Interest code: CRE Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
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- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
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- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$20.82 hourly, $43,290 annual|
|Employment (2020)||95,400 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Average (5% to 10%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||9,800|
|Top industries (2020)||
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO
- APCO International
- Fraternal Order of Police
- IAFF FireFighters
- International Academies of Emergency Dispatch
- International Municipal Signal Association
- NENA: The 9-1-1 Association
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers
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