According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, 911 operator jobs should increase slightly faster than the national rate over the decade between 2016 and 2026, with a job growth rate of about 8.9 percent. That translates into 160 openings per year, a combination of both new positions being created and turnover in existing jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, as of 2018, the median salary for those dispatchers is just under $15.00 per hour, coming out at $31,090 a year. At the high end, the top ten percent make $48,600, or $23.37/hr.
It’s been more than a decade since dispatchers across the state had to hear and respond, often without effect, to the mass of horrifying 911 calls that came with the onslaught of Katrina. But the institutional memory remains, and emergency services across the state have learned to place more emphasis on coordination and incident command systems in which dispatchers will play a vital role in future emergencies.
Salaries at the Agencies Employing 911 Dispatchers in Louisiana
Louisiana is organized around parishes rather than counties, but the same basic principle of consolidation that is found in other states is also a factor here—sheriff’s offices are often taking up the reins of centralized 911 services for all emergency responders in the parish in a single, unified communication center.
Baton Rouge – Includes:
- East Baton Rouge Parish Communications District
- West Baton Rouge Parish
- Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office
- Plaquemine Police Department
- Plaquemine Fire Department
- 10th percentile: $9.89/hr / $20,580
- Median: $14.45/hr / $30,050
- 90th percentile: $25.15/hr / $52,310
The city of Baton Rouge falls into the East Baton Rouge Parish Communications district, which handles all fire, police, and EMS services for most jurisdictions in the parish.
New Orleans-Metairie – Includes:
- Orleans Parish Communication District
- Plaquemines Parish Communications District
- St John Parish Sheriff’s Office
- Tangipahoa Communications District#1
- St Bernard Parish Sheriff And Communications
- Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office
- 10th percentile: $12.13/hr / $25,220
- Median: $15.66/hr / $32,570
- 90th percentile: $22.03/hr / $45,830
Among New Orleans area 911 operations, OPCD has broken new ground in offering PTSD counseling services to dispatchers affected by the stress of traumatic incidents occurring during their shifts taking fire, police, and EMS calls for New Orleans.
Lafayette – Includes:
- Lafayette Parish Communication District
- Acadian Ambulance And Air Med
Acadian Ambulance service is a private EMS provider that has also taken on 911 dispatch services in areas of Louisiana and Texas, boosting the number of dispatcher positions working out of Lafayette. Unfortunately, salary data for this area is not currently available.
Southwest Louisiana nonmetropolitan area – Includes:
- Vermilion Parish Communications District
- Acadia Parish Communication District
- 10th percentile: $10.06/hr / $20,930
- Median: $14.05/hr / $29,210
- 90th percentile: $19.81/hr / $41,210
Like most of Louisiana’s rural areas, services in Southwest Louisiana parishes tend to be combined at the parish level under the sheriff’s office for all police, fire, and EMS dispatch services, which is part of why this region leads the country in concentration of jobs for dispatchers among all rural regions.
A Full Breakdown of 911 Dispatcher Salaries Across Louisiana
Louisiana is somewhat atypical in that median salaries for dispatchers do not vary greatly between urban and rural areas, which means operators don’t have to choose between quality of life and a paycheck as they do in some other states. On the other hand, in the top ten percent, working in Hammond or Shreveport can give senior dispatchers a $5,000 to $10,000 boost over other areas.
Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of employment for emergency services dispatchers https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_la.htm#43-5031. BLS salary data represents state and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Job growth projections sourced from the Louisiana Workforce Commission and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm.
All salary and job growth data accessed in June 2019.