How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Columbia, South Carolina

The joint Columbia-Richland 9-1-1 Communications Center serves both the city of Columbia and Richland County.  It uses both call takers who answer the calls to determine the nature of the emergency, and telecommunicators who dispatch the appropriate fire, police, and/or emergency medical services.

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Follow this step-by-step guide on how to join these highly trained 911 dispatchers and serve the residents of Richland County:

Obtain a Relevant Education
Complete the Richland County Application Process
Undergo Training and Obtain Certifications



Step 1.  Obtain a Relevant Education

911 dispatcher telecommunicator jobs in Richland County specify the need to have a year’s experience working with 911 calls and operating computer terminals for a fire, law enforcement, or emergency medical services agency.  You also need to be able to type and use personal computer equipment, preferably Microsoft Office.

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To help gain this experience, many potential 911 operators improve their skill set by getting formal education in a field related to emergency dispatching.  Such areas as communications, criminal justice, and emergency medical training can help you to stand out when you apply for entry level 911 positions.  You can obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a number of schools in South Carolina or from online institutions that offer advanced training in these fields.



Step 2.  Complete the Richland County Application Process

To apply for a position as a telecommunicator in Richland County, you need to download an application from the city of Columbia’s website.  You have a choice of downloading a Microsoft Word document or an Adobe PDF.  You will have fill out the application with the title of the position on it and submit it to the city’s Human Resources Department.  If you need additional information, you can call the department at 803-545-3010.

When you are selected to go through the application process, you will be given a typing test.  After being selected for employment, you will have to undergo the following processes:

  • Alcohol and drug screening
  • Background check by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED)
  • Driver’s license check



Step 3.  Undergo Training and Obtain Certifications

Once you have been hired, you will undergo several phases of training.  First is an eight week program that will teach you communications skills and the mission and goals of the department.  After you have finished this phase of training, you will undergo on the job training with a Shift Training Officer who will integrate you into the Center.

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You will have to obtain NCIC (National Crime Information Center) training within six months of being hired or promoted.  In addition, you will have to obtain the following certifications within a year of having been hired:

  • First Responder
  • South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy 911
    • Mandated by the state for all telecommunications officers

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