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How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Miami-Dade County, Florida

Home to the first and third-busiest 911 call centers in the southeastern United States, you can expect considerable responsibility when working as an emergency dispatcher in Miami-Dade County. There are seven communications centers located strategically throughout the region’s 2,000-plus square mile area, known as public safety answering points (PSAP). These PSAPs provide coverage to unincorporated areas as well as 27 cities.

The following agencies in Miami-Dade County provide this coverage:

  • Miami-Dade Police Department Communications Bureau, covering unincorporated areas of the county and 24 cities with separate police and fire dispatchers
  • Miami Police Department Communications providing emergency dispatching services for police, fire, and medical units
  • Coral Gables Police Department Communications Section, providing 911 dispatching for police, fire, and medical services
  • Village of Pinecrest Police Department, which provides emergency fire, police, and medical dispatching services
  • Hialeah Public Safety Communications Division with emergency dispatchers handling calls for police, fire, and medical requests

All agencies can set their own hiring requirements but these tend to be similar and must fall within certain boundaries set by the state.

Follow these steps detailing how to become a 911 Dispatcher in Miami-Dade County:

Make Yourself a Qualified Applicant
Apply with the Appropriate Agency
Complete the Certification Process
Advance in Your Career

 


 

Step 1. Make Yourself a Qualified Applicant

911 dispatcher jobs in Miami-Dade County require a competitive application; meeting the minimum requirements in most cases is just not enough. Stated candidate preferences from emergency dispatching agencies within the county include:

  • Bilingual
  • Associate or bachelor degree
  • Related experience
  • Emergency Medical Dispatch Certification
  • Emergency Fire Dispatch Certification

911 dispatcher training is available through a variety of agencies in Miami-Dade County. With around two dozen college campuses in the area, you will have no problems finding a relevant degree program such as:

  • Criminal Justice
    • Police systems and practice
    • Class, race and gender
    • Response to crime

 

  • Homeland Security
    • Police and fire organization
    • Special target hazard planning

 

  • Emergency Management
    • Integrated EM system
    • Technology and preparedness
    • Disaster ops

 

  • Communications
    • Conflict management
    • Intercultural communications
    • Public communications

 


 

Step 2. Apply with the Appropriate Agency

Once you have made yourself into a qualified candidate you will need to choose an agency to apply to. The five main agencies in Miami-Dade County employ 911 dispatchers in the dual function of police and fire/ems operators, except for the Miami-Dade County Police Department, which hires their police dispatchers separately from their fire/ems dispatchers – however it is the same hiring agency for both these positions.

Although many of the emergency dispatch agencies are operated through the local public safety or police department, vacant job postings and applications are in most cases made through the appropriate municipality (although Pinecrest requires a Police Application), and can be done either online, on paper, or both. Vacancies are posted as follows along with job descriptions:

 


 

Step 3. Complete the Certification Process

No matter if you are a fire/emergency medical technician dispatcher, police dispatcher or both, you will need to complete a 232-hour Public Safety Telecommunicator (PST) Certification course approved by both Florida’s Department of Health and Department of Education. This will include:

  • Criminal and civil law
  • Hazardous materials response
  • Fire department response
  • Basic components and principles of emergency medical services
  • Crisis intervention
  • Basic law enforcement principles

Once you have completed the class, your next step will be to pass a state exam. To register for this you will need to fill out an application, schedule your exam, and pay the testing fee of $75.

You will find a study guide for this exam provided by the Department of Health. Passing this test means you have become a Certified PST.

 


 

Step 4. Advance in Your Career

It is always a good idea to be thinking about the next step in your career, but before getting to this it is important to make sure you maintain your required Public Safety Telecommunicator (PST) Certification. To do this you must complete 20 hours of approved PST training every two years before this certification expires, along with submitting a renewal form and a $50 renewal fee to the Florida Department of Health.

While keeping your renewal in mind, you can also obtain additional education and 911 operator training from a variety of local organizations offering related programs in this field. This will keep you sharp as a dispatcher, provide you with more life-saving ideas and techniques, as well as add to your promotional credentials. Some local agencies include:

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