How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Tampa, Florida

The Tampa 911 Communications Center is the central hub for all police, fire, and emergency medical service communications in the city. As a dispatcher, officially known as a Communications Technician, you will be trained in both fire/medical dispatching and police dispatching. This way you will be qualified to work in either of the two sections of the Communications Center: Tampa Fire Rescue – which last year dispatched responses to 72,496 fire and medical emergencies – or the police department’s Communications Bureau, which responded to 955,039 calls for service in a recent year.

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To learn more about these emergency operator jobs with an entry-level salary starting at $28,776.40 per year, review these steps on how to become a 911 dispatcher in Tampa:

Become Qualified
Apply with the city of Tampa
Initial Training and Examination
Maintain your Certification



Step 1. Become Qualified

When considering how to become a 911 operator in Tampa, one of the best strategies for distinguishing yourself above your competition is to look at the stated preferences for applicants:

  • Being bilingual in English and Spanish
  • Having previous dispatch experience
  • Having already obtained certification and 911 operator training as a Florida dispatcher

Earning a two or four-year degree can also prove to be useful both in the short and long term. There are at least five college campuses in Tampa and more educational resources online providing opportunities for degrees in:

  • Communications, providing education on effective listening techniques and the principles of public communication
  • Psychology, where you will learn strategies for stress management, the psychology of disaster preparedness, and insight into decision making
  • Law Enforcement, with instruction regarding patrol and criminal procedures plus tactical communications
  • Emergency Management, providing education about preparedness, technology, and emergency management integration.



Step 2. Apply with the City of Tampa

You can apply for 911 dispatcher jobs in Tampa either online, in person on the second floor of City Hall on 315 East Kentucky Boulevard, or through mail by contacting Employment Services on 306 East Jackson Street.

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The application process for emergency dispatchers, officially known as Communication Technicians, is often open and you can check if applications are being accepted online.

Once you have submitted an application you should call Employment Services at (813) 274-8911 to see if it has been accepted for further consideration, and if so you will be scheduled to sit for a computer-based two-part skill assessment test. Once you have passed this basic test your name will be placed on an eligibility list and you will be contacted to determine when you will continue in the hiring process.



Step 3. Initial Training and Examination

Florida law requires you to become a Certified Public Safety Telecommunicator after you are hired. To gain this certification your first step is to complete a state-approved telecommunicator course that is at least 232 hours and includes topics like:

  • Stress management techniques
  • Professional ethics
  • Emergency medical service response
  • Law enforcement response
  • CPR
  • Fire department response
  • Communication and interpersonal skills

Once you have completed your training course the next step will be to apply and schedule a state certification exam for a $75 fee, for which the Florida Department of Health provides a study guide. After passing the state exam you will become a Certified Public Safety Telecommunicator. Although completing this 911 dispatcher training before hire is optional, doing so will help your application gain a preferred status.


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Step 4. Maintain Your Certification

You will need to maintain your Public Safety Communicator Certification, which entails completing 20 hours of approved training by February 1st of odd-numbered years. Besides keeping up with this requirement, it is also a good idea if you keep up with the latest developments in your field through local organizations offering continuing training, such as:

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