How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in New York

The New York State 911 Board is charged with assisting local government, service suppliers, wireless telephone suppliers, and appropriate state agencies by:

  • Facilitating the routing of wireless 911 emergency calls
  • Developing minimum standards for public safety answering points
  • Promoting the exchange of information and the use of best practices among the public safety answering point community
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The New York State 911 Board’s minimum standard regarding the dispatch of emergency services involves Direct Dispatch, which means that the State’s Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) alert the responding agencies – from Buffalo and Rochester to Syracuse and Yonkers – without the need to relay or reroute the calls. It also requires that all PSAPs transfer all wireless 911 calls originating outside its jurisdiction to the appropriate agencies.

The PSAPs are divided primarily among the State’s 62 counties, although New York City has an extensive 911 system that covers its five boroughs. There are more than 1,500 dispatchers within New York City’s emergency call system:

  • Brooklyn
  • Queens
  • Manhattan
  • Staten Island
  • The Bronx

The other largest 911 PSAPs within New York State include:

Each county in New York State has its own Legislative Body, which is responsible for establishing a County Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). The goal of county PSAPs is to provide call-taking and dispatching services to all emergency service providers in the county.

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All emergency services are publicly supported, maintained, and operated by public funding. The PSAP Communications Center within a county must be under the direct control and supervision of a 911 supervisor, who must report to the county sheriff, county executive, or other supervisory official.

Requirements to Become a 911 Dispatcher in New York

911 dispatcher jobs in New York come with a specific set of requirements set by specific hiring agencies. Also referred to as Police Communications Technicians and 911 radio dispatchers, these professionals are assigned as 911 emergency call takers.

Requirements include being a United States citizen, possessing a four-year high-school diploma or its equivalent, and attaining residency within 90 days of appointment.

Further, individuals must possess one of the following:

  • One year of full-time paid experience in the act of obtaining information or performing clerical duties
  • 30 college credits
  • Two years of active military duty with honorable discharge

Due to the demands of a job as a 911 operator, and the skills required to successfully perform in this profession, many individuals pursuing 911 dispatcher jobs in New York choose to complete a two- or four-year program in a field such as communications or public safety, as both of these fields provide a solid framework in one or more of the following areas:

  • Interpersonal Communications
  • Public Safety Leadership
  • Planning and Execution of Disaster Response
  • Psychology
  • Strategic Communications Skills

It is also common for individuals to pursue degrees in:

  • Psychology
  • Homeland Security
  • Emergency Management
  • Criminal Justice
  • Computer Science


Emergency Services Dispatch Training Evaluation Program (ESDTEP)

The New York State Public Service Commission oversees basic training standards for 911 dispatchers in New York, which includes an Emergency Services Dispatch Training Evaluation Program (ESDTEP).

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The ESDTEP consists of at least 200 hours of training, which includes daily written evaluations and specific performance criteria. All 911 dispatchers must complete these training requirements within 18 months from the initial date of appointment if they are employed more than 20 hours per week or within 24 months of initial appointment if they are employed less than 20 hours per week.

911 dispatchers in the ESDTEP must complete the following:

  • At least 40 hours of classroom instruction in:
    • Roles and Responsibilities
    • Legal Aspects
    • Interpersonal Communications
    • Technologies
    • Telephone Techniques
    • Call Classification
    • Radio Communications
    • Stress Management
    • Incident Command System

All 911 dispatchers must complete their classroom training within 12 months of the initial date of appointment.

911 operators in New York may find a wealth of information and networking opportunities by joining the New York State 9-1-1 Coordinators Association, which represents New York’s 62 counties. The Association meets bi-annually to discuss issues that are important to the occupation.

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