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Do you have to go to college to be a 911 dispatcher if so what are the best colleges to attend?

I want to be the person to answer the 911 calls, but I'm not sure if I have to attend college in order to do this.

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Jacob’s Answer

Becoming a 911 dispatcher typically doesn't require a traditional college degree, but it does involve specialized training and qualifications. Here's some guidance on pursuing a career as a 911 dispatcher:

1. **Minimum Educational Requirements**: Generally, a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED) is the minimum educational requirement to become a 911 dispatcher.

2. **Specialized Training**: While not a college degree, you will need to complete specialized training to become proficient in emergency call handling and dispatch procedures. This training is typically provided by the agency that employs you or through dedicated dispatcher training programs.

3. **Skills and Qualities**: Successful 911 dispatchers possess essential skills such as effective communication, multitasking, problem-solving, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. Developing and showcasing these skills is crucial.

4. **Certifications**: Many agencies require certification as a dispatcher. Certification programs vary by location, so it's important to check with the specific agency or state requirements where you plan to work.

5. **On-the-Job Training**: Once hired, you will likely undergo on-the-job training to become familiar with the agency's specific protocols, equipment, and software systems.

6. **Continuing Education**: To stay up-to-date with evolving technology and emergency response protocols, consider pursuing ongoing education and training opportunities throughout your career.

As for the best colleges to attend, traditional colleges and universities are generally not the primary route for becoming a 911 dispatcher. Instead, focus on the following steps:

1. **Research Agencies**: Identify 911 dispatch agencies or emergency communication centers in your area or in areas where you'd like to work. Reach out to them to inquire about their specific hiring and training requirements.

2. **Dispatcher Training Programs**: Look for accredited dispatcher training programs or academies. These programs are designed to prepare you for the role and often provide a certificate upon completion.

3. **Apply to Agencies**: Once you've completed your training and obtained any required certifications, start applying for dispatcher positions at local agencies or organizations that match your career goals.

4. **Network and Gain Experience**: Consider volunteering or interning at emergency call centers or related organizations to gain experience and build connections in the field.

5. **Stay Informed**: Stay updated on industry trends and advancements through industry publications and associations, such as the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

Remember that the specific requirements and qualifications for 911 dispatchers can vary by location and agency, so it's essential to research the specific requirements of the agencies where you plan to work. While a college degree is not typically necessary, investing in specialized training and gaining relevant experience will be critical steps in pursuing this important and rewarding career.
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Alexis K.’s Answer

When I researched becoming a 911 dispatcher there is a class you can online individually or with the organization you plan on working for. The website I found was www.smarthorizons.org. They give you the criteria and everything that you have to do to qualify to study the course and then to train and get certified. I think if you are calm in a stressful, trauma situation and can handle pressure situations this position would be a good fit for you. Another way to find out about what the day-to-day 911 dispatcher life is like is to ask your guidance counselor at your school to have someone who works as one to maybe come in and give you some advice on what it is like as well.
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Natalie’s Answer

The 911 operator program is a brief yet dynamic course that spans about 1-3 days of immersive classroom learning and evaluation. The course fee may differ from state to state, and it's conducted by certified professionals. To earn your certification as a 911 dispatch operator, you'll need to successfully pass a final exam at the conclusion of the course. Enrolling in a few additional classes, like medical terminology, could greatly enhance your understanding of the essential jargon in this field. This is a great opportunity to learn and grow in a vital profession!
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Kim’s Answer

Kaia,

College is not a state requirement in Florida, but, departments can have higher standards, so you will need to check with the departments you want to work for. Here is a nice study guide for Florida, although it is 4 years old and may have been updated since. https://www.floridahealth.gov/licensing-and-regulation/911-public-safety-telecommunicator-program/_documents/911-pst-studyguide.pdf

You want to have the skills a department will seek. Top of the list is the ability to stay calm under pressure. A dispatch center goes totally crazy when things start to happen. You will want to be able to talk to people who are highly excited and get the information you need from them very quickly, so you can relay it to responding personnel. You will also likely be required to be available to work any shift, and overtime. You also will need to be able to be assertive on the radio when dealing with officers in the field who sometimes challenge your instructions. All of this develops over time, and with experience, you get better and beter!

Call-takers and dispatchers are sometimes two different positions.

I encourage you to get exposure to police and fire operations. Join the explorer scout programs, attend the citizens police academy, etc. It's very exciting, and rewarding job that does not get noticed nearly enough!
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Emma’s Answer

Becoming a 911 dispatcher doesn't always require a college degree. However, the prerequisites for this job can differ depending on the location and the employer. Therefore, it's crucial to explore the specific requirements in your local area. Usually, a high school diploma or a GED is the basic educational qualification needed for 911 dispatcher positions.

Even though a college degree isn't always necessary, possessing relevant education or training can give you an edge and make you a stronger candidate. Studying fields like criminal justice, emergency management, communications, or public safety can equip you with useful knowledge and skills for the 911 dispatcher role.

If you decide to go to college, look for institutions that provide programs in criminal justice, public safety, or emergency management. Some colleges and universities might also have specialized training or certification programs for 911 dispatchers or emergency communication specialists. The "best" college for you will depend on your location, budget, and career aspirations. Therefore, it's important to investigate and select a college that suits your unique needs and interests. Moreover, gaining hands-on experience through internships, volunteering, or on-the-job training can be equally, if not more, valuable than formal education in this field.
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