The Montana Department of Labor and Industry foresees around 50 dispatcher jobs opening up annually between 2016 and 2026, the result of natural attrition in the field and an 8.5 percent growth rate.
The median salary for those positions, according to 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, is an even $39,000 annually, or $18.75 per hour. Those in the top ten percent make $50,350, or $24.21 per hour.
Salaries at the Agencies that Employ 911 Operators in Montana
Montana is so big, and so sparsely populated, that not even every county needs an independent 911 center. In central Montana, for example, the Lewiston Police Department operates the Central Montana 911 Center to cover all or part of five different counties encompassing a 10,500 square mile radius… and does it all with only 5 full-time and 4 part-time dispatchers.
East-Central Montana nonmetropolitan area – Includes:
- Missoula County 9-1-1 Center
- Granite County Sheriff’s Office
- Powell County Sheriff
- Lewis & Clark County
- 10th percentile: $13.18/hr / $27,400
- Median: $16.74/hr / $34,830
- 90th percentile: $22.81/hr / $47,440
Encompassing all the major population centers in the state, this region has the highest overall employment level for dispatchers in Montana. The Missoula County 911 Center is typical for the region, taking all fire, police, and EMS calls for the 12 local fire departments, 2 law enforcement agencies, and 6 ambulance services (including an air ambulance service.
Billings – Includes:
- Yellowstone County 9-1-1 Center
- 10th percentile: $17.56/hr / $36,530
- Median: $23.68/hr / $49,240
- 90th percentile: $30.05/hr / $62,500
Although a more localized region, the Billings area is also served by a single 911 Center as a cooperative venture between the city and Yellowstone County and dispatching 15 rural fire departments, city police and fire, an international airport crash/rescue team, and various state and federal agencies that operate in the area.
A Full Breakdown of 911 Dispatcher Salaries Across Montana
Although Billings is the highest paying region in the state, the East-Central nonmetropolitan area ranks fourth in the country for the highest concentration of dispatching jobs for any rural area, and is the highest overall employment region in the state for the profession.
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_mt.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 Montana Department of Labor and Industry 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.