How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Boston, Massachusetts

In Boston, the Fire and Police Departments share a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system with the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Dispatch Operations.  Call takers from the Police Department answer most of the 911 calls that come into the department’s Emergency 9-1-1 Center.  They enter the information into the CAD and route the information to the appropriate 911 dispatcher.

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Here is a step-by-step guide on how to become a 911 dispatcher in Boston.

Meet Boston’s Requirements
Go Through Boston’s Hiring Process
Obtain Training



Step 1.  Meet Boston’s Requirements

Police Dispatcher – The department prefers to hire applicants that have previous experience answering 911 calls.  It also strongly prefers that you have a good working knowledge of Boston’s intersections and main streets.  You must meet the following requirements to become a communications equipment operator III for the city of Boston:

  • Having two years of experience working in a customer service position doing the following:
    • Working at a switchboard triaging incoming calls
    • Recording information
    • Being able to type 35 words a minute
    • Being fluent in English
    • Having MS Windows experience
    • Have Boston residency

EMS Dispatcher – To become an EMS dispatcher, you must have had EMT training from the city of Boston.

Obtaining formal training in emergency medicine treatment will help you in the application process to become an EMS dispatcher.  No formal education is specified to become a police call taker, but many prospective 911 dispatchers choose to get a degree in law enforcement or criminal justice to increase their chances of obtaining these jobs.

You can obtain this type of training from numerous schools within Massachusetts or from one of many online institutions.



Step 2.  Go Through Boston’s Hiring Process

Police Dispatcher – Once you have applied and been chosen as a prospective call taker, your hearing and vision will be tested.  The department will also perform a criminal background check on you.

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EMS Dispatcher – You will have to undergo several tests before you are able to work as a dispatcher.  You will have to take a written and practical exam.  The application process also includes the following steps:

  • Medical examination
  • Drug screening
  • Background check



Step 3.  Complete Training

Police Dispatch – Before you start taking 911 calls, you will be trained in the following systems:

  • Computer Aided Dispatch
  • Centrex telephone system console and switchboard
  • Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS)

EMS Dispatcher – You will take part in 19 weeks of training, starting with four weeks in an academy.  Part of this training will involve certification by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).  You will also receive the following types of training:

  • EMD
  • Call taker
  • CAD system
  • Dispatcher
  • Managing the Metro Boston CMED (Central Medical Emergency Direction)

Once you have completed your work in the classroom, you will be trained on the job under the direction of a training officer.  This officer will be rotated every three weeks to ensure fairness.

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