How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Pennington County

The Pennington County 911 Center is located on Kansas City Street in Rapid City, and is responsible for police, fire and emergency medical dispatch for 44 agencies throughout the county. As a dispatcher you will be responsible for making life-and-death decisions in many of the 368,000 phone calls the Emergency Services Communications Center receives annually.

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Last year 911 operators handled the following calls from Rapid City residents alone:

  • 425 violent crimes
  • 3,555 property crimes
  • 4 murder/manslaughter calls
  • 590 burglaries

If you are interested in learning how to become a 911 dispatcher in Pennington County consider the following steps:

Become Competitively Qualified for Employment in Pennington County
Apply for a 911 Dispatcher Position in Pennington County
Work Towards Career Advancement

Unlike most disclaimers that caution a particular job is not actually like how it appears on television, Pennington County 911 specifically states that being an emergency operator is action-packed just as it appears on shows like COPS, Trauma, and Rescue 911.



Step 1. Becoming Competitively Qualified for 911 Dispatcher Jobs in
Pennington County

Becoming an emergency dispatcher involves a very competitive application process, followed by an extensive 911 operator training regimen. Besides having experience directly related to the field, there are a few things you can do to improve your employment merits before you apply for a job. One is to obtain relevant 911 dispatcher training and certification.

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The Pennington County 911 Center maintains associations with two agencies offering certification courses:

    • National Emergency Number Association (NENA)
      • Emergency Number Professional Certification
      • Cloud Services in Public Safety
      • Network Security in Next Generation 911


  • Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO)
    • APCO Institute Leadership Certificate
    • Public Safety Communicator Certification
    • First Service Communications Certification

Another way to strengthen your job application credentials is to obtain an associate or bachelor degree that demonstrates acquired skills which are common with the 911 dispatcher job description. There are at least two colleges located in Pennington County offering the following relevant degree programs, in addition to opportunities available through online schools:

  • Communications
  • Homeland Security
  • Emergency Management
  • Psychology
  • Law Enforcement
  • Public Safety
  • Criminal Justice



Step 2. Applying for a 911 Dispatcher Position in Pennington County

Once you have a competitive résumé you will be ready to apply. Employment applications for 911 dispatcher jobs in Pennington County can be filed online through the human resources department. Officially the job title is 9-1-1 Public Safety Communicator. If there are no current openings you will need to check back with the website regularly, and it is also a good idea to monitor the local classifieds and radio stations. Keep in mind that you may be asked about the following:

  • Background information
  • Willingness to work all shifts including weekends and holidays
  • Any previous drug use or times you have been fired
  • Any family circumstances that would interfere with you being on-call and available for work

Remember that as an emergency operator in Pennington County you will be considered an employee providing an essential service. That means you will need to make your job your number one priority in an emergency or disaster situation.



Step 3. Working Towards Career Advancement

As you become accustomed to working as an emergency operator you will find a constant need to keep up with the latest developments in your field, especially technological developments. Doing this will ensure you maintain your value as an employee and also contribute to saving lives.

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In addition to continuing educational training provided by the Pennington County 911 Center you can also consider obtaining a college degree in any of the previously mentioned fields. This will add an important credential for promotional opportunities and lengthen your career path’s ladder. As you gain education and experience you may consider applying for dispatcher jobs with:

  • Larger cities
  • South Dakota Highway Patrol
  • Federal agencies
  • Specialized units.

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