How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Indianapolis, Indiana

The 911 dispatch center in Marion County is run by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Communications Division.  It takes a large number of 911 dispatchers to deal with the level of emergency calls in this area, and 530 such operators worked in the Indianapolis area in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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911 operators are hired through joint efforts of the city of Indianapolis and Marion County.  Here a step-by-step guide on how to become a 911 dispatcher in Indianapolis and Marion County.

Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in Indianapolis
Complete the Application Process
Undergo On-the-Job Training



Step 1.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in Indianapolis

The job description for a dispatcher position in Marion County specifies that 911 dispatchers must be able to type at least 25 words per minute, so applicants must be prepared to have good keyboarding skills.  An ability to handle stress while working with the public are key attributes that the agency looks for in candidates.  A good knowledge of the city’s geography is also a desired attribute.

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Although there are no specific educational requirements to become a 911 dispatcher in Marion County, applicants would be well advised to get formal training in any one of a number of areas.  Many people work towards becoming 911 dispatchers by getting certification or degrees in one of the following areas:

  • Emergency medical training
  • Criminal justice
  • Law enforcement
  • Communications
  • Fire science

Having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in one of these fields from a local school or an online college demonstrates a level of readiness to work as a 911 dispatcher.



Step 2.  Complete the Application Process

To apply to become a 911 dispatcher in Marion County, you must apply then when there is a posting for the position on the joint Indianapolis/Marion County website.

If there are no current jobs available, you should fill out a job interest card at the dispatcher website.  Click on the link to be emailed when jobs become available to submit your job interest card.  You will be notified when it is time to apply.

When Marion County is hiring 911 dispatchers, they will review your application and contact you.  Be prepared that it can take months to go through the application process.  You should be prepared to take a psychological and physical exam to prove that you are physically and mentally fit to be a 911 operator.



Step 3.  Undergo On-the-Job Training

After you have been hired, you will receive thorough training on how to handle 911 calls.  You will be trained to ask a series of questions about the emergency.  These questions are summarized in a flip chart next to the computer you will be using.

The computer system is programmed to determine the emergency vehicle that is closest to the emergency, so they can respond quickly.  In case there are computer issues, the 911 center has a large map of the city, and you would put your knowledge of geography to work.

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Indianapolis has been proactive about making information about 911 calls available to the general public.  As of November 2013, they were one of only ten communities in the country to have a SafeTown website that uses an interactive map to show realtime emergency activity.

In the near future, this information will be available through a cell phone app.  Plans are to include crime data on the website and allow people to report suspicious activity using the SafeTown website.  This is expected to help make Indianapolis a safer city.

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