How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Shelby County, Tennessee

911 dispatchers in Shelby County provide emergency response to around one million residents, fielding hundreds of thousands of calls for help every year. As a dispatcher you will work closely with the Shelby County Emergency Communications District Office located on Lenox Park Boulevard in Memphis. However 911 dispatcher jobs in Shelby County are obtained through the city or county department that will be your employer: either Shelby County or a municipal authority.

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Last year there were 600 emergency operators working in the Memphis metropolitan area earning an average annual salary of $36,260.

If you would like to know more about the process of how to become a 911 dispatcher in Shelby County consider the following steps:

Become Qualified to Work in Shelby County
Apply to an Emergency Services Agency
Expand your Career Options



Step 1. Becoming Competitively Qualified to Work in Shelby County

Meeting the capabilities described in the 911 dispatcher job description is just the beginning of being hired as a dispatcher. Since these positions are very competitive and emergency agencies receive a far greater number of applicants than there are available positions, if you want to have a good shot at landing the job it will be beneficial to have proven skills. These start with some form of certification and 911 dispatcher training.

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The Tennessee Emergency Number Association (TENA), a statewide organization devoted to being a valuable resource for emergency dispatchers, maintains links with several professional organizations which offer 911 operator training and certification:

In the long term it can be helpful to have a degree in any of the following 911-dispatch-related subjects, which will expand the limits of your career when combined with a good record of experience, are available at over a dozen Memphis-based colleges with additional opportunities online, and can also prove to be beneficial during your initial hiring process:

  • Psychology
  • Emergency Management
  • Communications
  • Public Safety
  • Law Enforcement
  • Homeland Security
  • Nursing



Step 2. Applying to an Emergency Agency

Emergency agencies in Shelby County independently hire their own dispatchers and provide customized orientation and training that cover common basic principles. 911 dispatcher job vacancies are advertised in local media as well as through the websites of municipal and county emergency agencies:



Step 3. Expanding your Career Options

Depending on your hiring agency, you may be required to maintain an annual amount of continuing education. Mandatory or not, it is always a good idea to keep up with the latest developments in your field, as staying on top of these will make you more attractive for promotions and favorable transfers, not to mention being more effective in offering life-saving emergency medical instructions.

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As with initial training, the Tennessee Emergency Number Association (TENA) is a good starting point for resources and developments in the emergency dispatch field.

Although working as a 911 dispatcher in Shelby County can be rewarding, it is by no means easy. Last year emergency operators dealt with the following crimes just in the Memphis area alone:

  • 133 murders/homicides
  • 12,575 burglaries
  • 7,572 assaults
  • 420 rapes
  • 2,969 vehicle thefts

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