Dispatcher Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: April 21, 2022

A Dispatcher, or Communications Dispatcher, answers and responds to any emergency or non-emergency calls to provide assistance or important information. Their main duties include logging each call, providing answers to questions by retrieving information from the necessary departments and supervising the field units’ routes to prioritize and organize their schedules.

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Dispatcher Duties and Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of a Dispatcher depend on what type of Dispatcher a person is, a service or emergency services Dispatcher. Some general Dispatcher duties and responsibilities are:

  • Scheduling and dispatching drivers, work crews, vehicles or equipment to appropriate locations according to predetermined schedules, customer requests or immediate needs
  • Relaying information such as work orders or other messages to and from work crews, field inspectors, supervisors or emergency personnel
  • Using telephones, two-way radios or text messages to contact employees or emergency personnel
  • Speaking with supervisors or customers to resolve problems, requests for services or equipment
  • Preparing daily work such as schedules
  • Preparing work orders for crew or receiving work orders from work crews
  • Being in charge of communications within company assigned territories
  • Keeping and organizing work requests, customer requests, completed work requests, charges for work performed, expenses for services performed, inventory records and other information
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What does a Dispatcher do?

Dispatchers work in shipping or emergency service industries providing guidance and important information to callers. They often act as the first point of contact for any emergency or non-emergency calls and are responsible for directing the caller to a different department or uncovering the information that best assists the caller and solves their problems. Dispatchers usually manage a multi-line control system and must know how to quickly use it in a high-pressure or emergency situation. 

They use a wide variety of communication systems to answer and respond to customer questions, including phones, computers and radios. Dispatchers are typically in charge of supervising the drivers’ routes and the field units’ status to ensure the drivers’ schedule is efficient and productive.

Dispatcher skills and qualifications

The qualifications and skills a Dispatcher must have are:

  • Excellent communication skills to collaborate with others under any type of condition
  • Excellent clerical and organizational skills to keep track of schedules, routes and personnel
  • Knowledge of computers for scheduling and other dispatching duties
  • Ability to multitask with different, and sometimes conflicting, events happening at the same time
  • Ability to work under stress and remain calm and to calm other people during rapidly changing circumstances 
  • Ability to relay information in a fast-paced environment

Dispatcher Salary Expectations

A Dispatcher makes an average of $14.81 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Dispatcher Education and Training Requirements

Dispatcher education and training requirements vary by what type of dispatcher a person chooses to be for their career. Usually, a high school diploma or GED in all that is necessary with on the job training. Certification requirements for a Dispatcher position vary by state. Emergency personnel dispatching may require a bachelor’s degree with a focus on criminal justice or communication. 

Some community colleges may offer certificate programs for emergency Dispatchers covering criminal justice, emergency telecommunications, stress management and transcription skills. 

Dispatcher Experience Requirements

Dispatchers should have experience with working with people under stressful conditions. This usually involves two to three years of experience of progressively being able to take on harder challenges that involve remaining calm and being able to calm others while sorting out problems that arise. They should be accustomed to working in a fast-paced environment with others while multitasking several schedules and priorities at once.

Dispatcher Samples for Similar Positions

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Frequently asked questions about Dispatchers

 

What are the different types of Dispatchers?

Dispatchers usually fall into two typical work categories: emergency and non-emergency. Most Emergency Dispatchers are also known as Police Dispatchers. When someone calls in for police backup or support, the Dispatcher answers the call and provides guidance, assistance and important information to the caller. They’ll then report the instance to the field units, designate certain officers or emergency care workers to that job and provide them with the best route to get them to the scene quickly. 

Non-emergency Dispatchers often work for companies helping drivers ship certain products to customers efficiently. If customers have questions or concerns about the shipping and delivery of their products, they’ll call the Dispatcher, who will answer these questions and work to resolve the issue.  

 

What makes a good Dispatcher?

A good Dispatcher should have impressive communication and interpersonal skills, as they must be patient and effective at listening to and resolving the callers’ problems. This also requires them to have effective problem solving and critical thinking abilities, as they must develop logical solutions to any problems that arise. 

Since they’re regularly responding to unexpected and immediate issues, Dispatchers must be skilled at handling high-pressure and emergency situations. They should also act as a calming and relaxing presence for nervous callers on the other line.

 

What settings do Dispatchers typically work in?

Dispatchers usually work in office or communication center settings, answering calls from their desks and using computers to log and enter communication updates. Some may work for specific companies and must have extensive knowledge of the product their organization is selling and shipping to more effectively answer customers’ questions. 

Others work inside of police stations and must have extensive knowledge of where officers are at all times and which units they should dispatch to certain areas. Some Dispatchers work in school settings, acting as a Security Dispatcher for college campuses, where they designate certain Security Guards to handle different situations occurring at the institution. 

 

Who does a Dispatcher report to?

The person a Dispatcher reports to often depends on their industry and work setting. If they work in an organization with several Dispatchers on staff, they often report to a Dispatch Coordinator or Dispatch Manager, who supervises Dispatchers and determines their shift schedules. Dispatchers who work for police stations or health care facilities may report directly to the Police Chief or EMT Manager on staff for any questions or concerns about handling certain health care or emergency situations.

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