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Updated

Dispatcher

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

  • Avg. Salary $64,762.00
  • Avg. Wage $30.39
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 6,800
  • In Demand Lower
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: Dispatchers (1475.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Dispatchers and Radio Operators (B575) 
  • 2011 NOC: Dispatchers (1525) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

35%
35%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Dispatcher is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Dispatchers
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 Mar 31, 2018

Dispatchers’ duties vary. In general, they:

  • answer telephone calls asking for service
  • 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 dispatchers might work for protective, industrial, medical, fire or police services. They:

  • take phone calls and calls from alarm systems
  • answer questions and give instructions to callers
  • decide what is the most important part of an emergency
  • direct calls to the appropriate emergency service, co-ordinate other agencies and relay information to hospitals
  • contact and keep in touch with field workers
  • make sure workers and callers are safe
  • take part in quality assurance processes
  • understand and work within an Incident Command System.

Emergency service call takers receive emergency calls for help. They pass the caller or the information to a dispatcher at the correct emergency service.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Dispatchers usually work shifts of up to 12 hours. Shift work includes nights, weekends and holidays. Sometimes dispatchers are required to stay longer to complete calls or wait for relief workers. This is a 24/7/365 position.

Dispatchers have to 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. Dispatchers may work in small offices with poor lighting and simple telephone systems. Some may work in large offices with advanced computer systems, vehicle tracking systems, and ergonomically designed workstations.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Dispatchers need to possess:

  • excellent communication skills
  • excellent computer skills and the ability to work with a variety of communication equipment
  • the ability to remain calm in emergencies and work well in a highly demanding and stressful setting
  • good eyesight, hearing, and dexterity
  • the ability to multitask, for example, listening to calls and sending out responders at the same time
  • a good memory for details
  • 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, memory for procedures, and attention to detail.

They should enjoy:

  • taking a step-by-step approach to their work
  • operating communications equipment
  • talking to people.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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 are required to have a high school diploma. It is becoming more common for protective services and alarm companies to ask for schooling beyond high school. They also require related formal or on-the-job training, such as experience working with multi-line telephone systems or working with people in distress. Dispatchers may be experienced police officers or emergency medical services workers.

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation. However, fire rescue services applicants are required to 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 31, 2018

Dispatchers may work for:

  • taxi companies
  • delivery and courier services
  • utility companies
  • protective services
  • 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.

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 [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the B575: Dispatchers and Radio Operators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.4% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 60 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.64 $45.79 $25.85 $24.04
Overall $15.00 $47.74 $30.39 $28.85
Top $15.25 $54.81 $33.67 $32.00

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.

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.


Industry Information
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Public Administration
Wholesale Trade
Construction
ALL INDUSTRIES
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)
Transportation and Warehousing
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Business, Building and Other Support Services
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

37%
37%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

35%
35%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

4%
4%

Vacancy Rate

2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Clerical and Administrative Support
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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 call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. 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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