How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

As a 911 dispatcher in Minnehaha County you will be working in the Public Safety Building in downtown Sioux Falls on North Minnesota Avenue. As can be expected, the dispatch center is a 24-hour-a-day operation, and is divided into three eight-hour shifts. After being hired you will have approximately 21 weeks of training and be required to obtain a number of different certifications. Once you begin answering calls independently you will be working with police, fire, and emergency medical dispatches.

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Follow this guide to learn how to become a 911 dispatcher in Sioux Falls or elsewhere in Minnehaha County:

Become a Competitive Candidate in Minnehaha County
Apply to the Metro Communications Agency
Complete Training

Within the Metro Communications Department there is a special section of tactical dispatchers who deal with delicate situations such as hostage negotiation, high-risk warrants, and suicidal callers. These experienced dispatchers conduct additional training with law enforcement agencies, and although you will not be starting off with this team you can always keep it in mind if you are interested in advancing to the section once you have gained experience.



Step 1. Becoming a Competitive Candidate in Minnehaha County

Your first order of business will be to make yourself a competitive candidate for 911 dispatcher jobs in Minnehaha County. To start out, if you have previous experience answering phone calls and working with the public this is already a plus. If not that is okay, and you can do other things to make yourself competitive such as:

  • Obtain CPR and AED certification
  • Become certified in Emergency Medical Dispatch through an organization such as the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO)
  • Obtain state certification by attending the two-week Basic 911 Academy in Pierre, South Dakota
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There are at least five colleges in the immediate vicinity of Sioux Falls with degree programs that offer competitive credentials in addition to 911 dispatcher training, as well as other degree resources available online. Some programs to consider are:

  • Communications
  • Psychology
  • Emergency Management
  • Homeland Security
  • Law Enforcement



Step 2. Applying to the Metro Communications Agency

As an emergency dispatcher you will be working in the Minnehaha Metro Communications Agency. Job announcements are posted on the agency’s recruitment webpage and if there are no immediate openings you can fill out a job interest card to be notified when vacancies become available. 911 dispatchers are officially known as Communications Operators.

Before applying make sure you are capable of meeting the requirements as set forth in the 911 dispatcher job description:

  • Able to work weekends, holidays, and a variety of shifts
  • Willing to participate in classroom education and on-the-job training
  • Can adjust to military time, the phonetic alphabet, and 10-codes
  • Can work effectively with a variety of callers in stressful situations

Before you start any 911 operator training you may also consider attending the Metro Communication’s Citizens Academy, a 10-week program for Sioux Falls residents that provides an in-depth experience on what it is like to be a 911 dispatcher.


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Step 3. Completing Training

Once you have been hired you will begin acquiring the necessary training that you do not already possess. This includes:

  • 840 hours of basic 911 operator training rotating between the classroom and dispatch center
  • 80-hour Basic 911 Training Academy in Pierre
  • Emergency Medical Dispatch Certification
    • CPR, AED, bleeding control, childbirth training
  • Continuing Education:
    • Provided on a weekly basis
    • Quarterly in-service training also provided

Upon completion you will be ready to begin independently working in your new 911 dispatcher career.

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