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Dispatcher

Dispatchers receive requests for service, non-emergency, or emergency assistance and relay instructions and information to field personnel and callers.

Also Known As

911 Operator, Emergency Communications Officer, Emergency Services Dispatcher, Public Safety Communicator, Taxi Dispatcher, Tow Truck Dispatcher

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 1475.1: Dispatchers

2006 NOC-S

  • B575: Dispatchers and Radio Operators

2011 NOC

  • 1525: Dispatchers

2016 NOC

  • 1525: Dispatchers

2021 NOC

  • 14404: Dispatchers

2023 OaSIS

  • 14404.00: Dispatchers
Duties
Updated Mar 21, 2023

Dispatchers’ duties vary. In general, they:

  • Answer calls asking for service
  • Operate and manage a telephone, radio, and computer-aided dispatch system
  • Obtain and input information into a computer system
  • Prioritize calls for service and coordinate responses to calls
  • Use scripted questions to evaluate calls for service and provide related instructions or directions
  • Dispatch workers according to written schedules, work orders, priorities, or protocols
  • Monitor cameras, radios, and alarms
  • Keep track of field workers’ workloads, locations, and safety
  • Process and send out information by radio or computer to field workers
  • Prepare daily work schedules and activities
  • Prepare documents such as accident reports and complaint forms
  • Tell workers about traffic problems, weather conditions, and other hazards
  • Keep records and logs about calls, and record other information, such as mileage

Taxi dispatchers send taxicabs in response to calls for service. They take requests for cabs, inform drivers by radio or telephone, and log the calls and addresses given to each driver.

Tow truck dispatchers take calls from vehicle owners for emergency service. They record information such as the name of the caller, type of problem, where the vehicle is, and what it looks like. They give the information to tow truck drivers.

Utility company dispatchers take calls for gas, water, telephone, or electric services. They take emergency reports from the public and send workers to resolve problems.

Emergency services call-takers / dispatchers might work for protective, industrial, medical, fire, or police services. They:

  • Take emergency and non-emergency calls and calls from alarm systems
  • Ask and answer questions, and give instructions to callers
  • Direct calls to the correct emergency service, coordinate other agencies, and relay information to hospitals
  • Contact and keep in touch with field workers
  • Ensure workers and callers are safe
  • Take part in quality assurance processes
  • Understand and work within policies, procedures, and protocols
  • Work in a collaborative team setting with multiple agencies on shared events
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 21, 2023
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Dispatchers usually work shifts of up to 12 hours. This includes nights, weekends, and holidays. Sometimes dispatchers must stay longer to complete calls or wait for relief workers. Dispatchers may need to work at any hour of the day or night, every day of the year.

Dispatchers sit for long periods of time. Emergency situations can be stressful. Work hours can include sudden busy and demanding times as well as periods of low activity. It is critical to remain alert.

Other working conditions vary depending on the employer. Some dispatchers work in small offices with poor lighting and simple telephone systems. Others work in large offices with advanced computer systems, vehicle tracking systems, and ergonomically designed workstations.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Dispatchers

2006 NOC: 1475.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to maintain operator work records using computerized or manual methods; and in monitoring personnel workloads and locations

DIRECTIVE

Interest in operating computer-aided communications and dispatching equipment to process and transmit information and instructions to co-ordinate the activities of vehicle operators, crews and equipment; and in dispatching personnel according to written schedules, work orders and as required by emergency situations

SOCIAL

Interest in speaking with vehicle operators to advise on route and traffic problems such as construction, accidents, congestion, weather conditions and weight and size restrictions

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 21, 2023

Dispatchers need:

  • Communication skills
  • Computer skills and the ability to work with various types of communications equipment (such as radios and phones)
  • The ability to remain calm in emergencies and work well in a demanding and stressful setting
  • Good eyesight, hearing, and dexterity
  • The ability to multitask, such as by listening to callers, directing responders, and providing information all at the same time
  • Good judgment and decision-making skills
  • The ability to work well on a team
  • The ability to transition between periods of low and high activity
  • The ability to adapt to changes in technology and work setting
  • Strong organizational skills, a good memory for procedures, and attention to detail

They should enjoy:

  • Following a defined step-by-step approach to their work
  • Operating computers and communications equipment
  • Talking to people
  • Working in teams
  • Having a varied work schedule

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Dispatchers

2016 NOC: 1525

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 126 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Apr 29, 2024 and May 27, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Dispatch personnel according to schedules and work orders
Tasks: Schedule assignments and co-ordinate activities of vehicle operators, crews and equipment
Tasks: Maintain vehicle operator work records
Tasks: Record mileage, fuel use, repairs and other expenses
Tasks: Keep track of shipments
Tasks: Maintain work records and logs
Tasks: Follow-up on issues with work orders
Experience: Will train
Tasks: Operate computer-aided communications and dispatching equipment
Tasks: Advise vehicle operators of traffic and other problems
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 21, 2023
  • Minimum Education Varies

Taxi, tow truck, and utility dispatchers are trained on the job. Employers generally look for people with related work experience.

Dispatchers need to know the geography of the area in which they work and be good at reading maps.

Some employers consider dispatching a supervisory position and require applicants to have dispatch or driving experience. A high school diploma and computer and keyboarding skills are definite assets.

Police, fire, and emergency medical dispatchers must have a high school diploma. It is becoming more common for police, fire, emergency medical services, and alarm companies to ask for education beyond high school.

They also need related formal or on-the-job training. For example, they may need experience using computers and multiline telephone systems, or working with people in distress. Dispatchers may formerly have worked as police officers or emergency medical services workers.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Grant MacEwan University
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 21, 2023
  • Certification Not Regulated

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation. However, fire rescue services applicants must have the Emergency Fire Dispatcher certificate course offered through the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch. Some cities also require Emergency Medical Dispatcher certification plus Emergency Medical Responder, rescue, hazmat, and fire certifications.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 21, 2023

Dispatchers may work for:

  • Taxi companies
  • Delivery and courier services
  • Utility companies
  • Protective services (such as sheriffs)
  • Trucking companies
  • Health departments
  • Emergency service agencies, like police, fire, and medical
  • Alarm companies
  • Industrial sites

Experienced dispatchers in larger organizations may advance to supervisory positions. However, in general, advancement opportunities are limited.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 1525: Dispatchers occupational group, 77.1% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 1525: Dispatchers occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.3% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 180 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 21, 2023

Salaries for dispatchers vary widely depending on the type of work and the employer.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Dispatchers

2016 NOC: 1525
Average Wage
$31.74
Per Hour
Average Salary
$67,159.00
Per Year
Average Hours
40.9
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 1525 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $47.33 $27.66 $26.75
Overall $17.00 $50.48 $31.74 $29.56
Top $19.00 $57.69 $34.83 $33.18

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Oil & Gas Extraction
Construction
Transportation and Warehousing
Business, Building and Other Support Services
Educational Services
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
33%
33%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
31%
31%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
2%
2%
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Clerical and Administrative Support
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 21, 2023

International Academies of Emergency Dispatch website: www.emergencydispatch.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 21, 2023. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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