Operator area dispatchers also known as public safety dispatchers or telecommunicators are employed by police and fire departments emergency medical services as well as by taxicab companies trucking and private service companies train stations and public utility companies. If you are interested in learning more about careers in the public sector look here.
Wikipedia describes dispatchers as personnel who are in charge of responding to calls of receiving and transmitting messages accurately and of directing and tracking vehicles and equipment to the proper destination. They keep logs of incoming calls and are usually in charge of a specific geographic area or jurisdiction. They should have clerical skills communication skills and the ability to work quickly when under pressure. They work with telephones radios ACARS computers and video surveillance. They often have irregular hours including nights weekends and holidays.
The job can be stressful because errors can result in harm especially with regard to people calling in for emergencies. There is a positive employment projection for dispatcher jobs of all types. Entry level dispatchers need a high school diploma or the equivalent and much of their training is on-the-job. Most colleges do not offer courses in dispatching but a having a degree from a junior college or college as well as completing safety dispatcher training courses can be helpful in securing employment.
In general there is no licensing requirement but some states do require public safety employees to take training courses and in some cases to become certified. In 2004 annual earnings (except police fire and ambulance dispatchers) ranged between $18820 and $52440. Those employed as police fire and ambulance dispatchers can earn less than $18710 but some earn more than $44520 in addition to receiving the same benefits as other public workers.