How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee dispatchers provide a vital link between those calling for emergency help in the city and Milwaukee’s first responders. Last year there were 340 emergency operators working in the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis area earning an average salary of $43,500 annually. As a 911 dispatcher you will have your choice of working with the police department where you will field calls from people needing law enforcement assistance or with the fire department where you will dispatch the appropriate fire and medical response units. Whichever path you choose, you will need to be prepared for a competitive application process where you will be up against other well qualified candidates for the same positions.

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Preparing to make a competitive bid is just the first step you will need to take in learning how to become a 911 operator in Milwaukee:

Become a Qualified Candidate
Apply with the City of Milwaukee
Expand Your Career Options



Step 1. Becoming a Qualified Candidate

The minimum requirements to become either a police or fire dispatcher in Milwaukee are as follows:

  • Police Dispatcher:
    • Ability to type 30 words per minute
    • Milwaukee residency within six months of hire
    • Either six months of experience working as an emergency dispatcher/protective service telecommunicator or two years of customer service/telephone work involving multitasking that includes computer data entry


  • Fire Dispatcher:
    • Either six months of experience as an emergency services dispatcher or two years of experience working with customers and on the phone that involves multitasking
    • Gain Milwaukee residence within six months of hire

You can improve your qualifications for police and fire emergency operator positions by obtaining experience or 911 dispatcher training in the following, with medical training being especially valuable if you are interested in fire dispatch:

  • Knowledge of map reading and the city of Milwaukee
  • Emergency Medical Dispatch Certification
  • Bilingual in Spanish or other common languages
  • Computer-Aided Dispatching and radio dispatching
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There are also at least 15 colleges located in Milwaukee and more online where you can pursue a degree in a 911 dispatching-related subject. These are especially important if you are considering your long-term career mobility, and include:

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



Step 2. Apply with the City of Milwaukee

Whether you choose police or fire dispatching, in either case you will make an application with the city. Your first step in this process is to check the city’s vacant job posting website. You will need to wait until there are advertised vacancies before you apply, and if there are currently none you can sign up to be notified when jobs with the city become available. The job announcements will provide you with instructions on obtaining and filling out your application, which needs to be returned to the City of Milwaukee Police and Fire Commission on 200 East Wells Street in room 706 by the closing date specified in the job announcement.

As a Police Dispatcher you will be working as part of the police department’s Technical Communications Division and be based out of the Data Communications Building located at 2333 North 49th Street.

As a fire dispatcher – officially known as Fire Equipment Dispatcher – you will be posted at the Fire Department Emergency Communications Center at 2323 North 49th Street.

Once your application is determined to be acceptable, for both positions you will be required to take an entrance examination. This will evaluate you on the essential skills needed to be a successful emergency dispatcher such as:

  • Basic English aptitude
  • Ability to multitask
  • Memory

Based on points awarded for the merits of your employment history, previous 911 operator training, relevant experience, and entrance examination you will be ranked on an eligibility list and notified when you may continue in the application process, to include:

  • Oral interview
  • Background investigation
  • Drug test


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Step 3. Expand Your Career Options

As the months go by and you demonstrate you are a capable 911 dispatcher, you will begin to be considered for promotional opportunities. Besides your on-the-job experience, your superiors will also consider the continuing education and training you have obtained on your own since hire. Not only will having this improve your career prospects- you can also potentially save more lives. Having a college degree in an appropriate subject can also raise the ceiling on your advancement possibilities. Some organizations that offer valuable training and education opportunities include:

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