Salaries for 911 Operators in District of Columbia

Despite having a huge presence on the world stage, Washington is a small town. Although it has unique demands for dispatchers, they are fairly static—the District Department of Employment Services doesn’t foresee any change in employment numbers between now and 2026, and estimates that only around 10 job openings per year will be available.

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The good news is that relatively high pay rates await those lucky few; the annual median of $49,100 ($23.61/hr) is almost $10,000 higher than the national median, while dispatchers in the top ten percent make $63,490 ($30.52/hr).

Although working as a 911 operator is never easy, the workload has improved for District dispatchers as the once famously high violent crime rate has fallen over the past decade. Although still above the national average, it’s no longer the murder capital of the U.S., a fact for which both citizens and dispatchers can be grateful.

Salaries at the Agencies Employing 911 Dispatchers in Washington D.C.

Although it’s a tiny city compared to most, Washington has five different PSAPs registered with the FCC… four of them belonging to the U.S. Navy. For every other emergency service in the District, calls run through the Washington D.C. Office of Unified Communications:

  • Washington D.C. Office of Unified Communications
  • Washington Navy Yard
  • Joint-Base Anacostia Bolling

Salaries and hourly wages paid to emergency dispatchers at these locations fall within these ranges:

    • 10th percentile: $17.26/hr / $35,900
    • Median: $23.61/hr / $49,100
    • 90th percentile: $30.53/hr / $63,490

Although Naval District Washington has many civilian dispatch positions in the District currently, a nationwide effort to consolidate into only five regional centers may see many of those positions moving to Norfolk in the future.

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A Full Breakdown of Dispatcher Salaries Across Washington D.C. and Surrounding Metro Areas

Driven by the cost of living and strong federal pay rates, Washington D.C. dispatchers command relatively strong salaries at every level.

Area name
Annual mean wage
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

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 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 Washington D.C. Department of Employment Services and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database –

All salary and job growth data accessed in June 2019.