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Occupational Profile

Dispatcher

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

  • Avg. Salary $60,751.00
  • Avg. Wage $28.48
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook Down
Also Known As

Emergency Services Dispatcher, Taxi Dispatcher, Tow Truck Dispatcher, 911 Operator

NOC & Interest Codes
The Dispatcher is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Dispatchers
NOC code: 1475.1
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

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 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 More

Duties
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Dispatchers' duties and responsibilities vary from one position to another but, in general, they:

  • answer telephone requests for service or receive requests from telephone operators
  • monitor the workloads, locations and safety of field personnel 
  • process and transmit information to field personnel via radio or computer-aided dispatch systems
  • prepare daily work schedules and activities
  • dispatch personnel according to written schedules, work orders, priorities or protocols
  • advise personnel about traffic problems such as construction areas, accidents, congestion, weather conditions or other hazards
  • maintain work records and prepare reports (for example, accident reports, complaint forms)
  • keep records and logs to document calls
  • record information as required by the agency (for example, mileage)
  • co-ordinate services
  • prepare reports and other documentation as required.

Taxi dispatchers send taxi cabs 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, vehicle location and description, and relay the information to tow truck drivers.

Utility company dispatchers receive requests for services related to gas, water, telephone or electricity. They take emergency reports from the public, obtain relevant information and dispatch a work crew (or other appropriate agencies if necessary).

Emergency services dispatchers who work in the communications departments of ambulance, fire or police services:

  • take calls via telephone or alarm systems
  • make decisions regarding the relative priorities of emergencies
  • contact field personnel
  • keep in touch with personnel being dispatched to send further information
  • answer questions and ensure the safety of the unit and caller
  • provide instructions to the callers as required
  • co-ordinate services from other agencies
  • relay information to hospital emergency rooms
  • participate in quality assurance processes.

Emergency service call takers are telephone operators who receive emergency calls for assistance. The information they receive is relayed to dispatchers of appropriate emergency services.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Dispatchers usually work shifts, sometimes 12 hour shifts, that often include nights, holidays and weekends. They sometimes work longer to complete calls or wait for relief workers.

This work requires sitting for long periods of time. It can be stressful when dealing with emergency situations or with routine work punctuated by very busy periods.

Other working conditions vary depending on the type of employer. Dispatchers may work in small offices with simple telephone systems and poor lighting, or large offices with high levels of technology including vehicle tracking, computerized systems and ergonomically designed work stations.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Dispatchers need the following characteristics:

  • excellent communication skills
  • ability to work in a highly demanding and highly stressful environment
  • good eyesight, hearing, manual co-ordination and dexterity
  • the ability to listen to incoming requests for service and dispatch services at the same time (multi-tasking skills)
  • a good memory for details and procedures
  • good judgment and decision making skills
  • the ability to work well in a team environment
  • the flexibility required to deal with the unexpected
  • ability to transition between periods of low activity and periods of intense activity
  • the ability to remain calm during busy periods and emergency situations
  • the ability to adapt to changes in technology and work environment.

They should enjoy taking a methodical approach to their work, operating communications equipment and talking to people.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Taxi, tow truck and utility dispatchers are trained on the job. Employers generally look for job applicants who have related work experience, at least some high school education and a good knowledge of the geographical area in which they work. Some employers consider dispatcher a supervisory position and require applicants to have previous dispatch or driving experience. A high school diploma and computer and keyboarding skills are definite assets.

Police, fire and emergency medical dispatchers are required to have a high school diploma plus related formal or on-the-job training (for example, experience working with multi-line telephone systems or working with people in distress). They may be experienced police officers or emergency medical services personnel. Fire rescue services applicants are required to have the Emergency Fire Dispatch Certificate Course offered through the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED).

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Dispatchers may be employed by:

  • taxi companies
  • delivery and courier services
  • utility companies
  • trucking companies
  • police, fire or health departments
  • emergency service agencies.

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

Dispatchers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 1475: Dispatchers and radio operators. In Alberta, 77% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 4,300 Albertans are employed in the Dispatchers and radio operators occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.4% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 60 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As dispatchers form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for dispatchers.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

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

Dispatchers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 1525: Dispatchers.

 

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Dispatchers occupational group earned on average from $24.78 to $32.16 an hour. The overall average wage was $28.48 an hour. For more information, see the Dispatchers wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Languages (other than English)
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Logistics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Clerical and Administrative Support
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Careers in Transportation website: www.transpocity.ca

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

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 14, 2014. 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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