Most dispatchers work for emergency services and law enforcement agencies. Some dispatchers work for fleet and shipping companies that operate distribution networks. Emergency dispatchers are in charge of taking incoming phone calls and routing the appropriate personnel to locations in need of assistance. Dispatchers in the transportation agency may inform others of the status of shipments and fleet schedules. They may communicate directly with truck drivers and train conductors to obtain location updates and estimated times of arrival.
The expected job growth rate for emergency dispatchers between 2008 and 2018 is 18 percent, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. 117,700 positions should exist by 2018, making the field an attractive prospect for those interested in human services. The expected growth rate is higher than average, which should mean earnings should grow as well, and most dispatchers obtain the skills they need to perform the job through employer training. Some locations may require dispatchers to obtain professional certification.
National Average Salary
Most dispatchers have a high school diploma, with a small percentage possessing a bachelor's degree or some college coursework. Approximately 19 percent complete college courses that do not lead to a degree. According to the BLS, 3 percent of emergency dispatchers earn at least a bachelor's degree. The average national salary for emergency dispatchers is $35,370 as of 2010, according to the BLS. This average includes police, fire and ambulance dispatchers.
Fleet Transportation Dispatchers
Transportation dispatches who work for railroad and fleet companies earn an average salary of $49,7700, according to the BLS. This figure is a national average and reflects typical earnings as of 2010. The projected growth rate for this occupation is expected to be as high as 13 percent by the year 2018, according to the BLS. Dispatchers working for commercial train and rail lines are often in charge of communicating with engineers about when to stop and start trains. Train dispatchers also monitor problems with train tracks and operate track signals.
Dispatchers that work for companies that employ nonemergency field personnel, such as bus drivers and couriers, earn an average salary of $34,560, according to the BLS. Most of these employees have a high school diploma and employment is expected to decline by 3 to 9 percent by 2018. Nonemergency dispatchers may help coordinate the work schedules and routes of bus and shuttle drivers. They also typically communicate with them on a regular basis using two-way radios in order to address customer concerns. In addition, dispatchers will communicate potential traffic hazards to drivers to shorten their travel time.
2016 Salary Information for Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers earned a median annual salary of $38,870 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,830, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $49,570, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 98,600 people were employed in the U.S. as police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers.
- O*Net Online: Summary Report for Dispatchers, Except Police, Fire, and Ambulance
- O*Net Online: Summary Report for Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition -- Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
- O*Net Online: Summary Report for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
- Career Trend: Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images