As a 911 dispatcher in Atlanta you will have your choice of agencies to work with. There are three tiers of emergency dispatchers who provide coverage to the City of Atlanta:
- Atlanta Police Department Dispatchers, responding to hundreds of thousands of calls for service annually
- Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Dispatchers, who last year responded to 96,890 calls for service
- Grady Emergency Medical Service Dispatchers, who handle 100,000 calls for emergency service annually
- 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
Police dispatchers answer incoming 911 calls in Atlanta and provide dispatch services if the emergency situation requires law enforcement units. If a caller needs medical or firefighting assistance the police dispatcher will transfer the line either to a fire rescue dispatcher – who work together with police dispatchers in the city’s 911 Communication Center – or to a Systems Status Controller with Grady Emergency Medical Service, depending on availability and proximity.
If you are prepared to become a qualified applicant for these agencies, then review the following guide on how to become a 911 operator in Atlanta:
|Explore Advanced Qualifications|
|Apply for a Job with One of the Agencies in Atlanta|
|Pursue Certification and Training|
|Explore your Career Options|
Step 1. Explore Advanced Qualifications
When dispatching agencies have a large volume of applicants one of the ways they distinguish among candidates is to see who has a college degree. This shows you are able to make a long-term commitment and have a demonstrated field of expertise, which can help you on both your initial application and future career expansion. Offered through online institutions and at least a dozen colleges in the Atlanta area, you can find any of the following associate or bachelor degree programs at a location near you:
- Psychology with courses covering stress management and disorders that some of your callers may be experiencing
- Communications, where you will learn about intercultural communications and effective communication strategies
- Emergency Management, providing you with a background in disaster response and command structure
- Law Enforcement, with a curriculum that will familiarize you with the inner-workings of law enforcement agencies
- Criminal Justice, where you will become skilled in the different aspects of the criminal justice system and thereby become especially qualified for law enforcement dispatch
Step 2. Apply for a Job with One of the Agencies in Atlanta
Police and fire rescue 911 dispatcher jobs are available through the City of Atlanta’s website. To begin the process of applying for these jobs you will start by checking if there are any vacancies posted on the city’s jobs webpage. You must apply for these positions online, and you can do this by clicking on the open job announcement and following the instructions for filling out a supplemental questionnaire and submitting your online résumé.
You will also need to register for an online account with the human resources department. If you do not have regular access to a computer you can apply on computers in the human resources office located at 68 Mitchell Street Southwest in room 2120.
Applications for System Status Controller positions with Grady EMS are also completed online. First check if there are vacancies for these dispatcher jobs posted on the agency’s employment webpage. You can apply via a link in the actual job announcement and will need to register for an account with Grady EMS.
Step 3. Certification and Training
City Police and Fire Rescue Dispatchers – As a police or fire rescue dispatcher you will be required to become a Certified Communications Officer through the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council. You can accomplish this by attending a 40-hour Basic 911 Dispatcher Training Program sponsored by the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC). Although you cannot enroll in this specific course until you are hired as a dispatcher, you can obtain 911 operator training that is related to GPSTC coursework:
- Telephone techniques
- Communications with impaired callers
- Medical dispatch
- Fire dispatch
- Law enforcement dispatch
- Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction
- Stress management
Grady Emergency Medical Service Dispatcher – Officially known as a System Status Controller, Grady EMS requires you to be able to type at least 30 words per minute with a 95 percent accuracy rate, and will give your application preference if you can meet any of the following:
- One year of prior emergency medical dispatching experience
- Previous experience with computer aided dispatch systems, especially TriTech and VisiCAD
- Medical Priority Emergency Medical Dispatch Certification from the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch
Step 4. Expore Your Career Options
Congratulations, once you have reached this step you should be settling in to your new career as a 911 dispatcher in Atlanta. Last year in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area there were 1,230 emergency dispatchers employed, earning an average salary of $32,890.
The months and years of experience you gain on the job will be considered together with your additional qualifications to determine your future career path and promotional opportunities.
You may consider obtaining additional 911 dispatcher training locally with agencies such as:
- Georgia Chapter of the National Emergency Numbers Association
- National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) training through GPSTC
- Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency (AFCEMA)
- Catholic Charities of Atlanta Disaster Preparedness and Response Program
- Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Emergency Preparedness and Response