How Do I Become a Dispatcher?
The following questions and answers pertain specifically to becoming a California Public Safety Dispatcher.
1. What should be considered in my decision to apply for a California Public Safety Dispatcher position?
Individuals applying for a public safety dispatcher position in California are required to meet several statewide minimum standards for employment. These standards include:
- fingerprint and DMV records checks
- background investigation
- medical examination
- oral communication skills evaluation (employment interview)
- verbal, reasoning, memory, and perceptual abilities assessment
2. The department's job flyer has higher and/or additional selection requirements over those stated above. Why aren't they the same?
Local law enforcement departments or communication centers may set higher standards than the statewide minimum standards. Where there are no statewide minimum standards, the local hiring authority may set a standard, e.g. psychological screening. This is why some standards vary from department to department.
3. Is the Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course the minimum training requirement for all public safety dispatchers employed by agencies in the POST program?
The Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course is the entry-level training requirement for dispatchers employed by agencies participating in POST's public safety dispatcher program, as specified in Commission Regulation 1018. Information on presenters of the POST-certified Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course can be found in the Catalog of POST Certified Courses.
4. Is an individual required to complete a Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course prior to applying for a public safety dispatcher position?
This varies with every agency. Some agencies will only hire individuals after they have successfully completed a Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course, while others will hire individuals and send them through the course. Some agencies require that an individual attend the agency's Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course regardless of previous completion of another Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course. However, Public Safety Dispatchers must complete the Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course before or within 12 months of the date of appointment [Commission Regulation 1018(c)(1)].
5. I have been a dispatcher in another state; can I transfer my experience to California?
California POST does not have a waiver process for dispatchers. All applicants must meet the California public safety dispatcher minimum selection and training standards as outlined under Public Safety Dispatcher Candidate Selection Standards.
6. Can anyone enroll in a POST-certified Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course?
Yes. However, applicants may want to check with the course presenter to determine specific enrollment requirements (i.e. application process, fees).
7. How do I enroll in a POST-certified Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course?
Most Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Courses are offered through community colleges. Listings can be found in the POST Course Catalog. Search key word "dispatcher" and look for the course titled "Dispatcher, Public Safety (Basic). Contact the presenter of the course in which you wish to enroll for additional information.
8. Where can I find out about job opportunities?
Current law enforcement (including dispatcher) job opportunities are available online, free of charge. A complete list of law enforcement agencies is also available; however, not all POST participating agencies are in the POST Public Safety Dispatcher program. The California Law Enforcement Employment Statistics (pdf) contains current employment information on full-time sworn, reserve peace officers and public safety dispatchers throughout California.
9. Some job flyers state that a POST Public Safety Dispatcher certificate is required. What does this mean?
Individuals successfully completing a POST-certified Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course will receive a certificate of completion at the end of training, issued by the training institution. This is not to be confused with the POST Public Safety Dispatcher Certificate which is a professional certificate awarded by POST, to individuals who have completed a POST-certified Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course and who have completed a probation period of at least 12 months. Some agencies require that an individual already possess the POST Public Safety Dispatcher Certificate in order to apply for a position. This would mean that the agency is looking for someone who has been previously employed and completed probation with another agency. Some agencies do not require the POST Public Safety Dispatcher Certificate, but instead are requiring a certificate of completion for the POST-certified Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course training. If the job flyer is not clear, an applicant should get clarification on this point.
10. How long must I serve on probation once I am employed?
Law enforcement agencies is also available; however, not all POST participating agencies are in the POST Public Safety Dispatcher program. The Commission Regulation 1018 (d) states that a public safety dispatcher must complete a minimum probationary period of 12 months.
11. How do I obtain a POST Public Safety Dispatcher Certificate?
The Public Safety Dispatcher Certificate is awarded, as defined in Commission Regulation 1011 to currently employed full-time dispatcher employees of an agency that participates in the POST Public Safety Dispatcher program. Applicants must have been selected in accordance with the POST selection requirements, and have satisfactorily completed the Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course and the agency's probationary period. Certificate requests are submitted by the dispatcher's employing agency.
12. I have additional questions; does POST have an email address?
Yes, you may direct questions to WebRequest@post.ca.gov.
13. I have been a dispatcher for a long time. Can I be grandfathered into the POST program and not be required to take the BDC?
The only time a dispatcher can be grandfathered into the POST program as a Public Safety Dispatcher is if employed by the agency at the time the agency joins the POST Dispatcher Program.
14. How do I prepare to become a dispatcher?
There are several things you can do to prepare yourself for becoming a public safety dispatcher. We strongly encourage you download and read Becoming an Exemplary Public Safety Dispatcher (pdf). There are other books and articles written than can be found on the Internet. Find an agency that permits civilian "sit-alongs" and complete one at both a large agency and a small agency.
15. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to work as a dispatcher?
Check with the agency you are applying for or review the job announcement closely. Most agencies will require you either be a U.S. citizen or be able to demonstrate you have the legal right to work in the U.S.
16. What would disqualify me to become a dispatcher?
Agencies will differ in what disqualifies a candidate, it is best if you contact the agency you wish to work for to make that determination.
17. What is the POST Dispatcher Selection Test Battery?
The POST Dispatcher Selection Test Battery is a test developed by POST as an entry-level exam. An examinee guide (pdf) can also be utilized as a reference.