How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Missouri

The crime in Missouri is higher than the national average, with the state seeing a higher rate of murders, robberies, and burglaries than the average for the nation. Missouri also experiences a higher than average number of emergency situations caused by natural disasters such as tornados and flood activity. These risk factors combine to cause Missouri’s law enforcement agencies to frequently seek talented and dedicated emergency dispatch professionals.

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Getting the Right Education for a Career in Emergency Dispatch

For those looking to go into the field of 9-1-1 dispatch, a college degree is the absolute best way to prepare for the job and demonstrate a committed attitude toward performing well in such a s high stress position.

For those looking to put themselves in the best position by earning a college degree, there are a number of Missouri area colleges and universities that offer degree programs that are in-line with becoming a 9-1-1 operator. Some of these degree programs include:

  • Bachelors in Psychology
  • Bachelors in Communications
  • Bachelors in Criminal Justice
  • Associates in Crisis Management

Aside from a college degree employers of Missouri 9-1-1 dispatch professionals are looking for candidates with the following qualities:

  • Ability to Multitask.  A 9-1-1 dispatch operator may have to simultaneously talk to a frantic caller, look for directions, and operate a communications system. There are many different aspects to being a 9-1-1 operator, many of which may need to be managed simultaneously
  • Bilingual.  In areas where there is a growing population of people who do not speak English as a first langue, being bilingual is a plus
  • Effective Communicator.  Much of the job of a 9-1-1 dispatch agent involves communication. Those who are effective communicators are best for the job.
  • Good leader.  A 9-1-1 operator is a leader. They are often responsible for leading people out of harrowing situations.
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Largest 9-1-1 Dispatch Employers in Missouri

In order to have the best chance of finding gainful employment in Missouri, applicants should look to the cities and municipalities that do the majority of the hiring. The major cities in Missouri include:

  • Kansas City Police Department –  Kansas City is the most populated city in Missouri with a population of about 460,000 people. Kansas City is also part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 9-1-1 dispatchers in this area are likely to see the most call volume in the state.
  • St. Louis Police Department –  St. Louis is the second largest city in Missouri and the 58th largest in the country with a population of about 320,000
  • Springfield Police Department –  Springfield has the third largest population in Missouri with about 160,000 people calling the city home.

The lack of a statewide 9-1-1 dispatch operator requirements means that applicants may face slightly different requirements in different municipalities. However, these requirements should not show significant variation from one place to the next. As an example the average pay for a 9-1-1 operator in Warrensburg, Missouri is $36,701 – with the low $30,000s being an average starting wage. The requirements for a position (Emergency Communications Operator 1) with the government in Warrensburg include:

  • 18 years of age
  • Available on nights, weekends, and holidays
  • Prior public safety experience is preferred (not required)
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Local and National NENA Organizations

There are communities on the local, national, and international levels which are dedicated to increasing the availability, standardization, and reliability of emergency dial communications. It is a good idea that anyone looking to become a 9-1-1 operator in Missouri becomes familiar with these organizations including:

  • The Missouri NENA has a slogan of “One nation one number.” They work for the standardization of Missouri’s 9-1-1 services so that they are uniform across the state and nation.
  • The National Emergency Number Association works with a bird’s eye view of the emergency dial services of the nation as whole. The NENA’s goal is that all states in the union have uniform 9-1-1 services which extend to all regions of the country.
  • The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch. The international NENA works to being standardization of emergency dial services to countries across the world.

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