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What Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers Do

Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, also called public safety telecommunicators, answer emergency and nonemergency calls.

Work Environment

Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers work in emergency communication centers called public safety answering points (PSAPs). Dispatchers must be available around the clock, so they often have to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Overtime and long shifts—sometimes 12 hours—are common. The pressure to respond quickly and calmly in alarming situations can be stressful.

How to Become a Police, Fire, or Ambulance Dispatcher

Most police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers have a high school diploma. Many states require dispatchers to become certified.


The median annual wage for police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers was $39,640 in May 2017.

Job Outlook

Employment of police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers is projected to grow 8 percent by 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be good because the stressful nature of the job results in many workers leaving this occupation.

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