How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Billings, Montana

The city of Billings has a policy of continuous open-applications for 911 operators in case there is ever a vacancy that needs to be filled quickly. Emergency dispatchers and call takers in Montana’s largest metro area play a key role in keeping residents safe. The Billings Police Department 2018 Annual Report shows:

  • More than 660 violent crimes, including robbery and homicide
  • Nearly 6,000 property crimes, including larceny and auto theft
  • More than 12,000 serious reportable crimes and another 16,000 lesser offenses

Additionally, the very harsh winters and sub-zero temperatures Billings is known for increases the likelihood of auto accidents and other weather related emergencies.

The steps to becoming a 911 dispatcher in Billings, Montana include:

Meet Education Requirements and Job Qualifications
Apply for a Position and Complete the Necessary Testing
Begin On-the-Job Training And Skills Development
Consider Additional Certifications

 


 

Step 1. Meet Education Requirements and Job Qualifications

Though a high school diploma or GED meets the minimum requirement for emergency services operator jobs with the Billings 9-1-1 Communication Center, post-secondary education in the form of an associate’s or higher degree can better qualify you for the work the job entails. Not only will it help prepare you to perform the functions of the job, but being able to show that you have formal, relevant training at the college level will make you a more competitive job candidate.


Areas of study that will help you prepare include:

  • Communications.  Working as a 911 dispatcher involves operating state-of-the-art communications systems. Also, effective communications with other departments and distressed callers is essential. A degree in communications will help you prepare for this critical aspect of the position.
  • Criminal Justice.  Having some formal education in criminal justice will make you more effective in understanding the terminology and processes involved at every stage of the criminal justice system, from law enforcement response to the policies put in place to combat crime.
  • Pre-Medicine.  People calling emergency dispatch centers are sometimes in the midst of life or death situations unfolding in realtime. Taking pre-medical courses will put you in a position to better assist the caller in the event that you need to walk someone through treating an injured person and improving their chances of survival.

 


 

Step 2. Apply for a Position and Complete the Necessary Testing

In order to apply for a 911 dispatcher job in Billings, you will need to meet certain basic requirements:

  • Be 18 years of age
  • Ability to type 40 WPM error-free
  • Capable of demonstrating accurate data entry at 97 keystrokes per minute (alpha numeric)
  • Ability to pass pre-employment drug screen
  • Ability to pass pre-employment background screen

Other requirements of the job include:

  • Ability to work any shift, including nights, overnight, weekends, and holidays
  • Have a clear speaking voice
  • Ability to think clearly in emergency and other high-pressure situations
  • Must have a home phone
  • Must be able to sit for long periods of time

Applications must be submitted along with a resume and cover letter, and the results of a Typing-Form Fill & Contact Data Entry Test. Contact the Montana Job Service at 406-655-6082 for information on taking the data entry test.

You can apply online or download an application to submit by fax, mail or in-person. Those applying online will submit all required documents to  hr@billingsmt.gov, while those downloading applications can fax them to 406-657-8390, or either send or deliver them in-person to:

City of Billings, Human Resources
210 N. 27th Street
Billings, MT 59101

Qualified applicants will then go on to the pre-employment testing phase.

 


 

Step 3. On-the-Job Training And Skills Development

911 dispatchers in Billings begin in the training program and then are graduated to a permanent position. You’ll be paid $14.44 per hour plus benefits during the 16-week training course.

In training you will learn:

  • How to take and process emergency calls
  • How to prioritize emergency calls
  • How to work with the Criminal Justice Information Network
  • How to work with the National Crime Information Center
  • Proper radio procedures
  • How to prepare reports in the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system

If you are selected for the emergency dispatcher and call taker position you will be given a pay increase to $17.06. The position tops out at $27.10.


 

Step 4.  Consider Additional Certifications

There are a number of ways to continue to develop your skills as a 911 dispatcher and improve your job performance. One of the best ways to do this is to continue to seek additional training and certifications. Some of the best certifications for a 911 dispatcher to hold are:

  • The Emergency Telecommunicator Certification (ETC) program is a 40 hour course that will help you to become proficient in managing job stress, while giving you stronger interpersonal skills, and a basic foundation of knowledge in legal issues.
  • The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) certification will ensure you are proficient in using the FBI’s criminal justice database where criminal records are held. This training could be very valuable since most 911 departments use a form of this system.

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