California is the big-time for 911 operators and dispatchers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks it first in the nation for pay for dispatchers, with an annual median of $65,120 ($31.31/hr) that can rise as high as $94,830 ($45.59) among the top ten percent. In fact, 8 out of the 10 top paying metro areas in the country for 911 dispatchers are located in California.
The state’s Employment Development Department expects job growth in the field to hit 7.5 percent from 2016 to 2026, resulting in 670 openings a year.
- Grand Canyon University - B.S. in Justice Studies, and M.S. in Criminal Justice
- SNHU - A.S. in Criminal Justice, B.S. in Criminal Justice - Police Administrations & Operations, and M.S. in Criminal Justice
- Strayer University - Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
- Michigan State University - Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Rasmussen College - Justice Studies Programs offering a wide range of industry-relevant programs
- Utica College - Online Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice
Salaries at the Agencies Employing 911 Dispatchers in California
Although the patchwork of jurisdictions in heavily populated California are legendarily complex, they are also among the most highly integrated and well-coordinated in the nation. Led by the state Public Safety Communications 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Branch, the system offers state funding and technical support for local PSAPs in even the smallest regions. CALFIRE, the state rural/structural fire authority, also has dispatch centers covering unincorporated and contracted areas in most regions.
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim – Includes
- CHP Los Angeles Communications Center
- LAPD Communications Division
- LA Metropolitan Fire Communications
- Orange County Metro Cities Fire Authority
- 10th percentile: $17.32/hr / $36,020
- Median: $32.32/hr / $67,230
- 90th percentile: $42.60/hr / $88,600
Los Angeles County alone has nearly 80 PSAPs, and the area overall employs nearly 1,500 dispatchers… the 10th highest employment level in the U.S. That’s despite heavy investment in workflow automation… LAPD adopted CAD in the early 1980s and has been at the cutting edge ever since.
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward – Includes
- San Francisco Department of Emergency Management
- Alameda County Sheriff
- Fremont Fire Department
- Berkeley Police/Fire Communications Center
- Alameda County Regional Fire
- Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department
- 10th percentile: $25.90/hr / $53,860
- Median: $41.74/hr / $86,820
- 90th percentile: $52.89/hr / $110,010
One of only two regions in the state where top earners can bring in a six-figure salary, the city and county of San Francisco have a big consolidated communication center, but most other regional agencies remain independent.
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara – Includes
- San Jose Police/Fire Communications
- Mountain View Police/Fire Department
- Santa Cruz Regional 911 Center
- San Mateo County Public Safety Communications
- 10th percentile: $32.73/hr / $68,070
- Median: $46.52/hr / $96,770
- 90th percentile: $61.77/hr / $128,490
The San Jose/San Mateo area is the other top spot for big earners in California dispatching, with even the median salary approaching $100,000 annually.
Salaries for Dispatchers in All Cities and Non-Metro Areas Tracked by The US Department of Labor
A full breakdown of salaries for dispatchers throughout the state can be found here:
Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment for emergency services dispatchers https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ca.htm#43-5031. BLS salary data represents state and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Job growth projections sourced from the California Employment Development Department and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm.
All salary and job growth data accessed in June 2019.