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How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Tennessee

911 dispatcher jobs in Tennessee can be stressful, challenging, demanding and rewarding. Emergency dispatch is considered an essential service, so dispatchers must be willing to work at any time and in any condition or disaster. Employees across the state are highly trained call takers with varying specializations ranging from medical training to psychological profiling.

The 911 dispatcher job description in Tennessee can include working with all the emergency services in a county, to being employed with a single metro police department. Statewide some of the largest concentrations of 911 dispatchers can be found with the following agencies:

  • Shelby County 911 Emergency Communications serving Memphis with over 1 million calls for service annually
  • Nashville Emergency Communications Center, answering 1.5 million calls for service last year
  • Knoxville Emergency Communications District
  • Hamilton County 911 Unified Emergency Communications District, serving Chattanooga and answering between 2,000 and 2,500 calls for service daily
  • Clarksville-Montgomery County 911 Center
  • Rutherford County Emergency Communications District serving Murfreesboro

Preparing for a Career as a 911 Dispatcher in Tennessee

Each agency in Tennessee has its own requirements for how to become a 911 dispatcher, common throughout all being an extensive training component. 911 dispatcher training takes place over the course of dozens of months if not a year, and includes instruction regarding:

  • Geography
  • Police, medical, and fire codes
  • Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) procedures and functions
  • Public safety lingo
  • Local, county, state, and federal resources

Some of the larger emergency call centers require 911 operator training to include certification in the following:

  • Emergency Medical Dispatch and Emergency Fire Dispatch with the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch
  • CPR
  • National Incident Management Systems and Incident Command Systems with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
  • National Crime Information Center (NCIC)
  • Basic Telecommunicator with the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials

Going into a job interview with demonstrable skills in any of these areas can be a huge plus. In today’s competitive job market, and especially among candidates who are considering career mobility, it is worth considering studying for a degree in any of the following:

  • Psychology
  • Communication
  • Homeland Security
  • Public Health – Disaster and Emergency Management
  • Criminal Justice
  • Health Sciences

Working as a 911 Dispatcher in Tennessee

Last year Tennessee counted 2,860 professional dispatchers responding to the residents and guests of the state who were reporting trouble. Over the next five years the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development projects an increase of 430 jobs in the 911 dispatching field, to a workforce that will number 3,290 professionally-trained individuals in total. As the market expands, those with the highest qualifications, most experience, and best track record will be chosen to fill the higher-echelon dispatching positions. 

Whether because of the satisfaction gained from saving a life, leading police to a criminal, or averting property destruction, those holding 911 dispatch jobs in Tennessee will continue their work as behind-the-scenes first responders who often make the difference between life and death.

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