18 Pros and Cons of Being a 911 Dispatcher

What’s your reason for contemplating a 911 dispatch job?

Some people, just want to stop feeling bored.

Otherwise, they want to help people or make more money. 

Pros of Being a 911 Dispatcher 

1. Steady income 

The job growth rate for becoming a 911 dispatcher is about as fast as the average until 2031.

If you do get hired, you will have a steady income and most likely will have full-time hours. 

However, you may possibly start out part-time if you’re still in school.

In this case, you perhaps want to use the dispatch job to get acquainted with EMS work. 

2. Health, life, and other benefits 

Depending on your jurisdiction, you could find a 911 dispatch position that pays for health, life, pet, and other insurance.

This gives you the opportunity to provide yourself and your family with a better quality of life.

It will help because dispatching is not usually easy.

Some departments may also provide their own perks, such as free meals or unlimited complimentary coffee. 

3. On-the-job training

Unlike some careers, you can start out pretty fast as a 911 dispatcher.

You’ll have the chance to learn in an actual call center environment and get hired as soon as possible.

Some training programs only take about 40 hours.

If you do decide to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, however, you can prepare yourself for higher-paid positions.

Still, an entry-level dispatch position may pay $17,000-$24,000 per year.

That’s not bad for not even requiring any education after you graduate high school. 

4. Steppingstone for other careers

Once you spend time as a 911 dispatcher, it helps prepare you to become a police officer.

Otherwise, you perhaps want to train to become an ambulance driver or a firefighter.

Your time on dispatch can help you decide if you’re cut out for high-stress situations. 

5. Never boring 

It’s unfortunate but also inevitable that accidents do happen.

Not to capitalize on other people’s tragedies, but there’s hardly ever a dull moment when working as a 911 dispatcher.

You aren’t likely to be bored in this job, and you’re likely to feel good about helping people. 

6. Short work week 

You probably will work an average of 40 hours.

However, a typical 911 dispatcher schedule may include three 12-hour shifts and one 8-hour shift.

Then, you have three days off. 

Other positions might allow you to work seven days on and seven days off.

This gives you time to recuperate from the stress of it all. 

7. Paid time off

For some of the days off you have, you can have them paid for.

Find out from your potential employer whether they offer paid holiday, sick, personal, or vacation days.

Many of them do. 

8. Sense of fulfillment

If you truly love the idea of saving lives, being a 911 dispatcher may be the right job for you.

You can feel a sense of fulfillment when you help people out of tough situations.

For instance, maybe someone’s mom just fell down the steps or a young adult is trying to escape abuse. 

Whatever the situation is, you can make a difference.

That can be a reason for you to get out of bed every day to go to work. 

9. Possible relaxed dress code 

Not all locations have the same dress code.

Some may require a button-down suit and/or tie as police officers wear. 

Others may just ask you to wear a polo shirt and jeans.

If you’re in one of the locations where you can wear casual clothes, that may be a benefit to you if you don’t like to dress up.

In any case, you probably don’t have to spend as much time styling your hair as a receptionist would. 

As long as you wear the top you’re supposed to and the right colors, you sometimes get to wear whatever you want.

Of course, that’s within reason.

However, it’s often more relaxed than if out in the world around people other than your coworkers. 

Cons of Being a 911 Dispatcher 

1. High burnout rate

People in the public sector have a tendency to become burnt out quickly.

That’s why 911 dispatcher positions result in a high turnover rate.

Of course, you don’t have to be a person who breaks down mentally or emotionally if you learn to manage stress in this position. 

You can set boundaries and live your life in a way that preserves your well-being.

Besides, the place you work may provide you with mental health support. 

On the other hand, you might dread working as a 911 dispatcher if your department doesn’t have the time or resources for needed support.

In this case, you’ll be forced to seek out and pay for the help you need to stay “sane” on your own. 

2. Have to work unusual hours 

Your work as a dispatcher may include evenings, weekends, or holidays.

You may not have a choice in the matter once hired.

They might, however, at least allow you a day off for spiritual or religious reasons, but that’s about it. 

3. Could be hard on the family

If you pick up extra shifts, it might be hard on you and your family.

You might go days without seeing your children or spouse, for instance.

If you do have paid days off left, I suggest you use the accumulated paid time no matter what.

Sometimes, you have to take care of yourself and your family first. 

4. Body aches from sitting too long 

It’s not easy to sit in a chair for hours at a time every day.

You’d need good ergonomic back support if you take on this job.

Not only that, but you could require expensive treatment if you get carpal tunnel syndrome from typing too much. 

5. Not enough exercise 

911 work is a sit-down job, so you may need to find ways to burn off calories and stress off the job.

Some centers, however, may possibly have a workout center onsite.

That would help you maintain your “cool” after spending many hours dealing with stressed-out and angry callers. 

6. Stuck indoors most of the time 

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to get stuck indoors all the time, don’t become a dispatcher.

It’s an exciting position as far as being able to help people.

However, it will do no one good if all you can think about doing is walking out the door every time you’re there. 

7. Potential for depression, and feeling disturbed

The unfortunate reality for 911 dispatch workers is that they can’t save everyone.

You might also hear gunshots, screaming, and other horrible sounds while on the phone with people.

It could depress you and disturb you. 

Sometimes, you might also feel guilty if you can’t save someone

Moreover, it may be hard to forgive yourself if someone dies on your shift. 

8. Desensitization may occur

You may need to desensitize yourself when working as a dispatcher.

This could cause you some issues in your personal life, such as if a person close to you has an accident. 

Maybe you’re calm in a crisis, but you can come across loved ones as insensitive.

That’s not your fault though.

They might misread your desensitized state as not caring. 

You get to the point of not having compassion or empathy like you used to, however.

If that happens, it could require some mental health treatment. 

9. Could trigger you 

Some situations you encounter could trigger you.

Maybe you felt violated sexually by someone, for instance.

Otherwise, maybe someone once pointed a knife or gun at you when you were younger. 

Part of you wants to help others by being a 911 dispatcher.

However, some calls could trigger a trauma reaction in you if you haven’t healed past emotional wounds.

If this happens, seek help as soon as possible. 

Pros and Cons of Being a 911 Dispatcher – Summary Table

Pros of Being a 911 Dispatcher Cons of Being a 911 Dispatcher 
1. Steady income 1. High burnout rate
2. Health, life, and other benefits 2. Have to work unusual hours 
3. On-the-job training3. Could be hard on the family
4. Steppingstone for other careers4. Body aches from sitting too long 
5. Never boring 5. Not enough exercise 
6. Short work week 6. Stuck indoors most of the time 
7. Paid time off7. Potential for depression, and feeling disturbed
8. Sense of fulfillment8. Desensitization may occur
9. Possible relaxed dress code 9. Could trigger you 

Should You Become a 911 Dispatcher? 

It’s your call, literally. Before you decide to become a 911 dispatcher, think about what you’ll be doing during your shift. 

It’s stressful talking on the phone all day in customer service, let alone when handling emergency cases.

Can you handle this?

If you feel like you’re good in a crisis, then go ahead and become a 911 dispatcher. 

If you want to help people but maybe in a lower-stress environment, maybe you should consider a profession that doesn’t require you to constantly handle life-or-death situations.

For instance, counselors may deal with crises, but it isn’t always because someone is dying. 

If you would rather be outside all day, then you may instead become a police officer.

There are other ways to gain experience in law enforcement instead of becoming a 911 dispatcher. 

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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