How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Illinois

Illinois employs more than 3,460 emergency dispatchers statewide, who last year earned an average salary of $45,590- a relatively high wage for the position’s initial level of required training which reflects the high level accompanying responsibility. 911 dispatcher jobs in Illinois are projected to increase through the year 2020, according to a recent report released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, and applicants for these positions should be ready for a competitive evaluation.

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As candidates review what it takes to become a 911 dispatcher in Illinois, they should keep an eye towards improving their credentials for these highly-sought-after positions.

Some of the main employers for emergency operators in the state include:

  • Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, which was newly renovated as of October 30th, 2013
  • Aurora 911 Dispatch Center with a new $14 million digital radio system
  • Rockford 911 Division
  • Joliet 911 Communications Center
  • Naperville Support Services Division
  • Sagamon County’s E911 Department serving Springfield
  • Peoria Emergency Communications Center


Preparing for a Successful Emergency Dispatch Career in Illinois

Before considering the training opportunities for this field, candidates should be confident they are able to handle the stress that comes with being an emergency operator, as hinted at in the 911 dispatcher job description: Shifts can normally be up to 12 hours, and much longer in the event of an emergency situation. Operators will pick up the phone to hear panicking callers who find themselves in emergency situations that involve gruesome accidents and crimes, especially in light of recent news reports naming Chicago the murder capital of the country, with 500 homicides in 2012. These factors can be overwhelming for many dispatchers, and that is why careful attention is given to 911 operator training in Illinois.

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To be able to succeed in such tasks, emergency operators will undergo months of 911 dispatcher training before they begin working independently. This instruction will cover all the necessary bases for becoming a successful 911 operator, and job candidates who already possess any of the following will be one step ahead of their competition:

  • GPS Mapping
  • National Incident Management System (NIMS)
  • Medical Assisting
  • Fire Dispatching
  • Police Dispatching
  • Emergency Medical Technician/B
  • Command Point Computer Aided Dispatching
  • Emergency Medical Dispatcher
  • Enhanced 911 (E911)
  • 911 Telecommunicator

Candidates who additionally possess a college degree will prepare themselves for a potentially more rapid career advancement with a higher ceiling for growth. There are over 70 private and public colleges located throughout the state with additional resources online offering relevant degree programs for 911 dispatchers, including:

  • Communication
  • Psychology
  • Law Enforcement
  • Emergency Management
  • Public Safety
  • Criminal Justice
  • Homeland Security
  • Philosophy and Logic
  • Fire Science
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911 Dispatchers Help Kids across Illinois

There is a brighter side to being a 911 dispatcher in Illinois; after providing instructions and help for callers who find themselves in emergency situations, emergency operators sometimes receive credit for the good work they do:

  • When a five-year-old Pekin resident called 911 because his grandmother was having trouble breathing the operator was able to assist him with step-by-step instructions that ended up saving the elderly woman’s life
  • A 911 dispatcher responded to a Chicago four-year-old’s call that her mother would not wake up by dispatching paramedics and instructing the young girl to unlock the door when units arrived
  • An emergency operator was able to talk with a six-year-old Calumet City boy to ascertain that his mother had collapsed, was unconscious, and not breathing, dispatching emergency units to the address which was at first uncertain because the boy was calling on a cell phone
  • A dispatcher alerted police after receiving a call from a 14-year-old hiding under his bed, reporting a burglary in progress while he was home alone

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