How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Houston, Texas

911 dispatchers serving Houston answer emergency calls and are responsible for dispatching the appropriate police, fire, or medical units in one of the most technologically advanced facilities of its kind in the country: the Houston Emergency Center. This new $50 million headquarters processes 9,000 emergency calls each day, a number that can easily double depending on large public events or disasters. A recent $12 million systems upgrade has additionally secured the center’s national reputation as one of the best.

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In the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area there are approximately 980 emergency dispatchers earning an average annual salary of $36,270.

Consider the following guide on how to become a 911 dispatcher in Houston:

Prepare to Meet Qualifications and be Ready for Training
Apply with the City of Houston
Maintain Your Expertise



Step 1. Prepare to Meet Qualifications and be Ready for Training

As you begin researching how to become a 911 operator in Houston, your first objective should be to make yourself a qualified job candidate. A good way of going about this is to come to your job interview demonstrating that you already possess the skills the Houston Emergency Center is looking for, namely:

  • Operational knowledge in technology such as:


    • Plant Vesta Telephone Operating System
    • Meridian Telephone Systems
    • Windows NT Computer System
    • MapStar GPS


  • CPR and First Aid Certification
  • Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education (TCLEOSE)-approved telecommunications training program
  • Experience in a public safety field such as police, fire, or emergency medical services
  • Bilingual language skills

There are numerous 911 dispatcher training and certification programs available at the city, county, state, and federal levels of government, all conducted within the city limits of Houston. Degree programs in the following subjects are a good idea if you are a long-term-career-minded candidate, and will demonstrate your commitment and expertise in a field through your investment in education.

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There are over a dozen state, public, private, and online colleges based in Houston alone, offering relevant degrees in:

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



Step 2. Applying with the City of Houston

911 dispatcher jobs in Houston are obtained by filling out an application with the City of Houston, and vacancies for these positions are posted on the city’s employment webpage. The 911 dispatcher job description is also available online, and to apply for this position you will first need to create a job seeker online account.

When you apply with the city you will need to also complete the following:

  • Typing test
  • Drug test
  • Demonstrate one or more years of experience in at least one of the following:


    • High-volume telephone service
    • High-volume customer service
    • High-stress environment



Step 3. Maintain your Expertise

Keeping up with training and advancements in your field will make you a better lifesaver and a more attractive candidate for promotion. Organizations such as the Texas Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association (Texas NENA) will keep you informed about the latest training opportunities and conferences in the area of Houston.

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Recently 911 operator training in Houston has been put to the test during the following high-call-volume events:

  • NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Final Four Tournament in April, 2011
  • Hurricane Ike in September, 2008
  • NBA All Star Game in February, 2006
  • Major League Baseball 2005 World Series in October, 2005
  • Hurricane Rita in September, 2005
  • Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005
  • Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July, 2004
  • Super Bowl 38 in January, 2004

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