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How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Washington

In 2012, 911 dispatchers in Washington earned an average of $51,000 according to data published by the Employment Security Department of Washington State – a salary considerably higher than the national average for this profession. The generous salaries that Washington’s dedicated 911 dispatchers earn are a reflection of their value to the communities they serve.

In Washington State, 911 dispatchers are more commonly referred to as telecommunicators. As of 2012, some 1,650 professionals served as telecommunicators in Washington, working with some of the state’s largest employers in the field:

    • Pierce County
    • Tacoma
    • Lakewood

911 Dispatcher Training and Education

As candidates learn more about how to become a 911 dispatcher in Washington they will discover that preparatory and in-service training requirements for new employees are established and maintained by the hiring agency.

The following are among the training programs that emergency dispatchers in Washington may be expected to take part in:

  • 911 Recruiting Academy
  • Public Safety Communications Accreditation Program
  • Real-time Crime Center
  • Emergency Medical Dispatch and CPR
  • Technology:
    • Positron Power 911 workstations
    • Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)
    • Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)
    • NG911 (Next Generation 911) providing services such as texting/sms and video

Having a degree as a supporting credential can make a candidate more competitive when being considered for employment. An undergraduate certificate or associate degree in any of these areas of study would develop skills and knowledge useful to a career in emergency communications:

  • Public Health
  • Emergency Management
  • Public Safety
  • Communications
  • Psychology
  • Homeland Security
  • Legal Studies

Emergency Services Throughout Washington State

Most 911 emergency communications centers were built when the telephone landline provided the predominant means of communication. Today, emergency communications systems are being implemented that incorporate advanced technology that includes the latest developments in GPS mapping, wireless communications, and network-based multimedia. As programs like South Sound 911’s Next Generation 911 come online, telecommunicators will augment their skills with the most advanced emergency communication and dispatch technology available to ensure the most efficient and effective call processing.

The number of telecommunicator jobs in Washington State is expected to increase only slightly in the coming years, with a projected statewide job growth rate of .04% in the years leading up to 2021. Projected job growth in the field of emergency communications for Snohomish, King and Spokane counties is as follows:

  • 0.3% in Snohomish County
  • 1.1%% in King County
  • 0.2% in Spokane County

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